Well, Halloween has come and gone, but we at Casa Ridenhour are not done with facing fears. Today, it was all about me.
We live in the country a bit, and every year at this time the field mice get cold out there in the North Dakota elements, and they decide to relocate into our warm, comfy house. It is an annual dance, and each team wins individual turns in the ongoing game. Over the years, we’ve developed quite the arsenal of traps; our preference is the black trap that catches the little boogers and keeps them alive; we then drive about a mile away before we release them. Peanut butter is the best bait. They’ve won several battles too of course, chewing up expensive wiring in our cars (it’s going back in the shop tomorrow), leaving mouse dropping on the silverware, and freaking me out from time to time as they run across the floor.
Which brings me to today. Let me set the scene: I am upstairs working with Ian on a math portion of the SAT practice test. Eva is downstairs working happily on her Lego robotics kit. We had already emptied one trap that morning at the end of the road, so mice are on our minds. But as the mice are nocturnal, it’s not usually an issue we worry about during the school day.
This day is not a normal school day, however. And Eva’s voice cuts through my math elucidation: “THERE’S A MOUSE! THERE’S A MOUSE! COME HERE!” Not really what I want to hear. I think they’re adorable, really, it’s just that I don’t like them in my home. They’re too fast, and I know in my heart that one of them one day is going to run up my pant leg before I can do anything about it, just like in the movies. This certainty gives me the tendency to scream just a little when mice make their way into my life. The kids think my behavior is hilarious and annoying in turns.
Anyway, Ian and I sprint downstairs, just in time to see a little gray back end scoot under the computer desk. What the heck am I going to do now? I can’t just leave it there, because he’s clearly not going to stay there all day. I run for two of our live traps and set them up on either side of the computer desk, knowing full well that there is no way that plan is going to work. And of course it doesn’t. After a minute or two, the mouse zips neatly around a trap and jumps into the patio door track. Then it sits back on his little haunches, picks up some invisible piece of food, and starts eating. We’re all yelling and jumping up and down and stuff, and he’s just eating, twitching his cute little whiskers as he nibbles.
He’s so calm that we all get very close to watch him. We can’t catch him – he’s safely down in the door track – but he’s right there, just eating away, and occasionally looking up at us with his big dark eyes. I should clarify that I am perched up on three stacked stools. But I am still very close. It is a sweet moment, and I admit once again that they really are adorable, and there is nothing to be afraid of.
Of course it is not to last. Eventually, he finishes his snack, and humans or no, decides it is time to mosey. And when I say mosey, I mean he leaps out of the track with amazing power and sprints between us and across the room with blinding speed. The yelling and jumping recommence. By this time I have retrieved a large glass mixing bowl. I run (at a safe distance) behind the mouse, hollering at it for some reason. I have no idea what I am saying. It dashes behind the sewing machine and nestles into some scrap fabric. I make my 11 year old son flush it out (I get the Mom of the Year Award, I know). The mouse zooms out again, and as I am ridiculously far from it, I again dash along behind.
And then I do it. I pounce. I become an actual mouser. I think that everything actually slows down (again, like the movies), and I fly through the air in a glorious arch. My hair is certainly flowing. And then I come down, bowl in hands, and catch it. I don’t even hurt it! The little guy is about an inch from the heater room door, where it would have found safety. But I did it! I acted! And now I have a mouse under a glass bowl. Great.
The kids and I are giggling so hard by now, we’re in tears. I fish around and find a piece of flat plastic that I slide under the bowl. But I don’t trust the bowl and plastic to remain as one while we drive it to Mouse Drop-Off Point. I need Tupperware. The only thing I can find big enough to accommodate our trap is a tub 3 feet long, 2 feet deep, and 2 feet wide. It’s huge. But it works. I place the trap gingerly inside (Mousie is upset now, leaping up and bumping his little head against his ceiling), and then I carry the ginormous contraption to the car.
And then I think (and this is where you will laugh at me), “but there is a snowstorm predicted for this weekend, and what is this poor little mouse going to do for food, since its larder is obviously in my home?” So I do what any sane person would do and grab a jar of birdseed. We all 4 take off for the end of the road. We carefully pile the birdseed next to Mouse Drop-Off Point, and then open up the plastic box. He is still fine. Ian takes the bowl (I suddenly find something I have to take care of in the car – remember, this is the point where the mouse will run up my pant leg if I’m not careful), and Eva tips Mousie out of the box. He burrows down in the grass. I get back out of the car now that the coast is clear, and make a trail of birdseed from the pile to the hidden mouse. I’m that sweet.
And that was school today. It took about an hour. We called it Biology.
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