Friday, September 7, 2012

The Sweet and Slightly Tragic Tale of Two Small Girls and a Couple of Very Tiny Mice

I have a friend who has encouraged me repetitively to post my family stories on my blog rather than only on facebook.  There are many of you facebook friends, therefore who may have seen this story.  So if you don't want to read the extended play version, just don't click on the link, OK?  And from now on, you may see more and more of such facebook stories repeated here.  And perhaps even an old one or two excavated from the deep, dark depths of facebook history.

As I was sitting around today doing nothing (as most moms do all day, you know) Inge and Donna came running inside. Inge's little hands were cupped closed together as if they held an exotic treasure.

Donna yelled, "We found a baby mouse.  Inge caught it!"

Joe happened to also be sitting around doing nothing.  In all truth just prior to this episode, he and I had been engaged in a rare adult conversation.  It turned out to be short-lived, to be co-opted by a more interesting adventure.

Joe called Inge over and peeked into her little cupped hands.  Yes, within was indeed a baby mouse.  Joe got Inge a small bucket into which she gently and carefully set her tiny friend.

"Will it get away?" she asked her dad.

"No, I don't think it will be able to climb the sides of the bucket.  They are too slippery, and he is too little."

They watched if for awhile. 

"Do you want to see it, Mama?"

"Mmmm.  I'd like nothing more," is the sarcastic response that flitted briefly through my mind.  But since I'm such a good mom, what came out of my mouth sounded more like, "Oh, sure.  Cute!  That is so cool."

And it was cool.  It was a very little mouse, about an inch around and perhaps just a tad longer.  Just a little round bundle of gray fur, really.  With two sparkly eyes and two teeny round ears.  And a little slip of a black tail, also about an inch long.  I have to admit, he really was quite cute.

"I can't believe you girls caught a mouse.  How did you do it."

"The cat had it first.  He was catching it in his mouth, and then throwing it, and catching it again," they explained.


Joe watched them with the baby mouse for awhile, and told them to be sure to wash with soap and water after playing with it.  Joe suspected that perhaps it had a punctured lung, since he could hear a strange clicking noise when it breathed. 

Pretty soon Joe left us to go to his church office.  A few minutes later he came back with a little covered dish in which was another baby mouse.  Funny isn't it, how the Inge can catch one with her hands, but Daddy has to use a little dish?

"Daddy, Daddy, how did you catch one?  Where did you get it?  Why did you bring another one in?"  were some of the questions cascading from the two girls, as they hopped up and down in excitement.

"The cat had this one, too," Joe explained.  "If we keep taking away any that he finds, he'll keep finding more of them, and maybe he'll eventually get the whole nest.  That's why we have a cat, you know, to kill the mice for us.  He's earned his keep today.  So you can't keep the mice, understand?  We will have to kill them.  But you can watch them for a little while longer."

As the afternoon progressed, the little girls were in and out of the living room where the mice were dwelling in the tenuous security of their bucket home.  Inge and Donna came and went, checking on and watching the baby mice.  And then whoosh, away again, off to play elsewhere for awhile.  In and out, each in its turn, as afternoon hours slipped by.

At one point, Inge was dancing with the bucket of mice, swinging it back and forth, while singing a little song.  I became a bit concerned that she'd dump them out with her antics, so I suggested she take them outside to dance with them.  Pretty soon she and Donna left the room, I assumed to go play outside.  I thought no more of the mice.

It turned out the girls did not wish to continue to look at their little friends, and dance with them, and otherwise befriend them under the watchful eye of theMom.  Unbeknownst to theMom, the girls had taken the bucket, complete with mice, into their bedroom for a more intimate interpersonal experience.

But of this further development, I remained blissfully unaware.

Eventually the older kids got home from school, with the typical rush and bustle of three kids getting off a school bus.  Each had tales of the day to relate.  They get home hungry and clamoring for a snack.  The younger ones are always eager to show me their papers and any notes from their teachers.  And the school kids, in turn, get to hear all about our day from Inge, Donna, and I.  It really gets to be quite a commotion. 

Since I was a little under the weather today, I still sat in the living room doing nothing.  When everyone got home, I tried to stay on the sidelines of the fray, keeping mostly to myself until the initial excitement quieted down. 

I heard from the other room, one of the little ones telling about the mice.

"There used to be two, but one of them kept biting us, so we smashed him."

! ? ! ? !

Of course, this is not the kind of talk I prefer to hear from my little girls.  Parents walk a fine line raising kids these days.  "Be kind to animals," and, "No bullying," etc.  But yet at the same time, we want strong and independent kids.  We want kids who know the difference between people and animals, and who if necessary, can kill their own food to provide for their families. Or kill a threatening or dangerous animal to protect themselves or others.

Yes, I realize the mice had to die.  But I must admit I was a bit chagrined to hear such a calloused explanation of the demise of one of those cute little creatures.

Sentimental, yes.  But, where to draw the line?  I struggle with this as a mom.  Where does practical end and unwonted cruelty begin?  Sigh.

The final chapter in my tale occurred a short time later.  The rush of the daily homecoming had subsided.  The snacks were eaten.  Activity had once again diminished to include only the normal hubbub of a houseful of children.

Suddenly the calm was broken by the shrill hollering of one of the bigger girls, "GROSS MOM!  There's dead mouse in the hallway!"

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