I want to tell you about what happened after we started catching and trapping mice.
It started early last week, Sunday night, when my husband and I stayed up late enough to hear the scratching. “Something’s in the kitchen.” I said. And after about three or four more episodes of scratching, and sneaking into the kitchen to listen he finally agreed. So the next day, I looked for evidence. You know, the gross kind. Or torn food.
So, in the back of my mind I thought maybe we had dreamed it. My husband was traveling that week and I did nothing about it on Monday but at night I was sure I was hearing something in there. No evidence except for noise.
Finally, I headed to the grocery store and picked up twenty different traps. All different kinds. And on Tuesday I set out five traps with peanut butter. And at four a.m. Wednesday morning we caught a mouse. Since my husband was out of town and I do not touch dead mice, my fifteen year old learned an important life lesson – how to pick up a dead mouse, and throw it away trap and all without actually touching it. I thought maybe that was all we had, but sometime that evening when we were all out of the house we caught a second mouse.
And the next day, I really thought we were done. But the day after that, my son went downstairs to the basement where the kids play and came back upstairs pretty fast.
“Mom, we found a dead mouse and I think we are in trouble.”
“Because it was a baby.”
Oh dear. That means we have lots more, and they are babies! (If only they had stayed out in the forest!) So more traps were set with fresh peanut butter, and the exterminator was called. No mice were caught that night, but in the morning the exterminator came first thing and put out bait traps in likely places and commented on the fact that he couldn’t find any evidence either. I kid you not. (Who has ever heard of mice that don’t go to the bathroom?)
While he had the stove pulled out, I mopped it all up (not a drop of mouse poo though), threw out the phonics book and toys found underneath, and sprinkled it liberally with peppermint and cypress oil (like 30 drops each) which are supposed to repel mice and then steam mopped it again for good measure.
And after the guy left, I told my son to look in the tray under the oven for a mouse or evidence. Maybe that was where they were hiding! But nothing. Except exactly fifteen minutes later we caught another mouse in the trap next to it! Our fourth, and a slightly larger baby.
Over the course of the week, my children did actually learn several important life lessons from the whole thing. So many things came up and they asked questions and we talked and we experienced life together.
1) They learned that is never fun to kill something, not even a mouse. It is not something we should take pleasure in.
2) They learned that mice carry disease and responsible people need to take care to get mice out of the house.
3) They learned about responsibility when they helped me clean out all four bottom cabinets looking for evidence and spraying liberally with multi-purpose cleaner.
4) They learned that it is especially sad when it is necessary to kill mouse babies. I cried. Life, no matter how small and potentially diseased, is still life given by God.
Characters were formed.
This experience has also brought to the forefront some issues that need more work. Character issues. Heart issues. Especially mine, but in certain kids too. It’s amazing how a small crisis can bring out the best and worst in us at the same time.
So what am I going to do about it? There’s the rub. Because I need some help!