Thursday, May 19, 2005


Most homes will have an occasional mouse that seeks refuge from the cold winter. The Dutch Colonial I grew up in was no different. I had the largest of the three bedrooms upstairs, a teenage girl in the 70's dream - big yellow flowered wallpaper and a canopy bed. My parents took the bedroom with the largest closet and closest to the bathroom, points not truly appreciated until adulthood. My brother had the smallest bedroom, considered the size of a closet by today's standards but, it had walk up stairs to the attic in the closet. A very cool selling point to a seven year olds imagination.

Dad tried to hide the mousetraps discreetly in the basement and around the house so his two young children would not be traumatized at the sight of a dead mouse. I was around 13 at the time and my brother was 7.

Not all the mice were dumb enough to fall for the peanut butter filled traps though. Some mice can be rather intelligent. Take for instance the mouse that plagued my parents last year in their current residence: Dad found evidence of the little bugger by the holes it was digging in the soil of one of Mom's large houseplants. Dad placed a peanut butter laden trap directly in the planter the mouse frequented. At each check of the trap, a hole would be dug under the trap and the bait would be licked clean. Smart mouse. It took a while before it became careless enough to spring the trap.

What is a parent to do when an adorable, furry, big eared, beady eyed rodent appears in the midst of his two excitable young children? Can't kill it - imagine the therapy bills. The only logical thing to do is to try and catch it and let it go outside. (Of course it will probably return to the house; carrying disease, contaminating the pantry or damaging the woodwork) Thoughts not in the realm of children. The things our parents do because they love us!

I saw an example of this love firsthand.

I don't recall who actually first saw the mouse. What I do remember is the four of us trying to corner it and catch it. It was nighttime, my brother was in pajamas and I was in a nightgown. We were jumping around and pointing "There it is!" Squealing in excitement. Dad was trying to find something to trap it with - a bucket,a cup, a blanket, anything to cover it with. Mom had the broom, trying to corral it. This petrified little field mouse was evading capture as best he could. It really was a comic scene: Mom wielding the broom, Dad looking for anything to contain it, and two overexcited children running, jumping and squealing at a frightened field mouse dodging to and fro.

The mouse, afraid for it's life, took a desperate path right up the grasscloth covered wall. It paused 5 feet up and calculated it's options: crazy lady with a broom on the left, 7 year old in perpetual motion on the right, man with a blanket in the rear, and a 13 year old girl wearing lots of concealing material directly in front. The choice was made and in a death defying leap it hit the floor and bounced right up my nightgown.

I did a jig that would make any Irishman proud. I think I probably hit high C too, but things are a little fuzzy for me. I remember hopping from side to side frantically flapping the hem of my nightgown, all modesty forgotten. I do know that I eventually flushed it out - much to everyone else's amusement. I think they were all rolling on the floor and laughing too hard at that point to even worry about catching the sucker. It probably died of fright anyway.

So...Given the choice of seeing a dead mouse in a trap or having a live one run up your nightgown...What would you choose?



KFarmer said...

I had one that kept peeking at me from under a recliner with them beady ball eyes. One night after a few beers, I got out the Daisy. IT finally peeked out and pop. When it flew up in the air so did I. While it seemed like a good idea at the time, it wasn’t. The bb went flying too. I got a cat after that. Live and learn.

Magazine Man said...

OMG. Haven't laughed this hard since I heard a Garrison Keillor monologue about something very similar happening to one of his Lake Wobegon characters.

Glad I've never had a mouse run up MY nightgown...

izchan said...

Plenty of stories about rats and stuff ... that would of course be due to the reason that my back yard is a bloody ritz for them.

I remember once that my mom actually succeeded in killing one with a broom. Mom was never into the subtle with children thing.

Found you via MM. :)