Two weeks ago, one of our cats brought me a mouse. A mouse who was still very much alive, and who scurried behind the bathroom door, and then under the refrigerator and refused (then) to come out. Not that I would have come out, either.
Our cats are both pampered, sheltered, indoor-only creatures, which meant (Oh, woe!) that the mouse came from indoors, too. I told N about the mouse, expecting that we’d set some traps and get rid of the creature.
And here’s where one of the real differences between N and me comes into play. I look like I’d be tender-hearted, and in many ways I am. I cry at Hallmark commercials, some children’s books, and have a soft spot for waifs and strays. I will carefully take daddy-long-legs (daddy-long-legses?) outdoors and do the same for ladybugs, and even spiders, though I now relocate spiders to the shed out back because I now know that house spiders usually need a house-like environment in which to survive. Having said all that, I will automatically squish any creepy crawly that I find in the bathroom or too close to the bed.
I hate trapping mice and think that mice are rather adorable creatures, really. But I’m a farm girl by upbringing, and a bit too familiar with mouse hygiene and habits (don’t ask) and also very skeptical that, once you see one, you are ever dealing with just one mouse. And house mice, like house spiders, won’t go off to live in a field somewhere. They infinitely prefer human-built structures, temperature control, and a steady food supply. Well, who wouldn’t?
And, while Robert Burns is dear to my heart and I’ve recited To a Mouse more than once to my daughter, I will point out in defense of my callousness that the mouse in Burns’s poem was a field mouse, not a house mouse, and that Burns probably didn’t worry much about hantavirus.
N, on the other hand, doesn’t look terribly tender-hearted on the outside. He’s a philosopher, and teaches the problem of evil at least a couple of times every year. He is fully capable of looking life in the face and saying, sometimes you just suck. He is also fully capable of facing down distraught students who want their grades changed, for instance, and some of them can be pretty pathetic and weepy. He doesn’t bother to relocate spiders. But he also really, really, really didn’t want to be responsible for the death of our small furry house-crasher.
So we didn’t get any traps. We tried a makeshift trap made out of a cardboard box, a cunning little ramp made from chopsticks, and peanut butter (You want to catch a mouse? Use peanut butter. Much more effective than cheese). It at least got the mouse to come out from behind the fridge once or twice, but our wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie refused to be captured.
… … …
Then my parents visited for the weekend and we tried to pretend the mouse didn’t exist. (Note that I’m still pretending there is/was only one mouse, a fiction I will cling to until I’m proven wrong). Which worked pretty well. No sightings were had for almost a week. At least, I’m pretty sure Dad would have said something. I really hope there weren’t any sightings, anyway. Oh, glory. Please tell me my parents didn’t see a mouse while they were staying with us.
… … …
This week, N sighted the mouse (Beastie) a few times in the kitchen. While I’d been hoping the creature had gone away, at least it seemed to be sticking to the confines of a single room, and a room with easily washable floors, at that. We decided to try to catch it again, and brought a few cardboard boxes up from the basement to use in our endeavors.
All of this is leading up to the events of last night, but to give you the best possible picture of what happened, I really need to set the stage:
1. We had promised Dot to take her swimming at the local indoor pool, and the pool’s open hours are 7-9:00 pm so we knew we had to suit up right after dinner so we could get home in time to have a reasonable bedtime. Dot, by the way, takes her promises of swimming very seriously.
2. I am trying to cut out the after-school nursing session Dot is accustomed to. We’re making progress, but I admit to having used videos, chocolate milk, fruit snacks, computer games, and even ice cream as distractions. Fortunately, yesterday, we came home to find two beautiful boxes of gently used clothes from my Sister In Law of Awesomeness (SILA), and we tore into them, scattering beautiful dresses and pajamas all over the living room floor as Dot tried on skirts and shirts and dresses and a dragon costume (some of these all at once). It was glorious fun and made a glorious mess.
3. While I was folding and organizing our riches from SILA (and thank heavens, in retrospect, I was able to put them away before they could have created multiple mousie hiding places), making dinner, and trying to interest Dot in SpongeBob in lieu of “milky,” Dot had an enormous, gushy diaper. I changed it and she ran around without clothes until I got dinner on the table, at which point she agreed to put on a shirt.
4. I decided to have a sip of wine with dinner.
Finally dinner was on the table, the house was sort of picked up, and N came up to join us. We all sat down together and had a great five minutes, after which point, Dot (no doubt pretty full from her “how about this instead of milky?” snack of goldfish crackers, a cup of strawberry milk, and fruit snacks) decided she was done and ran around (still only wearing her diaper and a shirt). At which point, N noticed she had another poopy diaper. Dot insisted that “Daddy do it” when it came down to who would change her (Good girl! I didn’t even have to train her to say this!), and, as Daddy was carrying her to her room for the change…
Beastie left the safety of the kitchen and ran across the hallway and under the bookshelf in the living room.
“There it is, there it is!” shouted N.
“Wha…?” I replied, wondering if Dot’s diaper was leaking on him.
“The mouse! The mouse!” he responded. “Keep it there! Don’t lose it!”
And so I poked under the bookshelf with a folded up paper bag until I saw little Beastie, dark as a shadow and small as a my thumb, running around by our power strip. N changed Dot’s diaper and they brought the broom from the basement while I got the upstairs broom out of the hall closet.
What ensued involved the moving of a very large bookshelf, the wielding of two brooms, the use of a bulletin board to cut off a potential mouse exit, Dot running around excitedly and then being (thank heavens) distracting herself by taking the clean laundry out of the basket and climbing into her “boat,” a large cardboard box, two paper bags, and two flat, circular pieces of cardboard. Finally, Beastie ended up in the cardboard box, and was “relocated” to our front yard. We all made it to the pool on time.
N and I feel very accomplished, and I can honestly recommend trapping a mouse in a box as a great couples’ bonding activity. But we’ve agreed that we can only do this one more time.
After that, we will reluctantly bring in the traps.
Stay away, Beastie. Stay away.