“I know why people make movies,” Clara declared definitively.
“Really? Why?” I asked, curious about how she might define all filmmakers’ motivations in one succinct statement.
“To show things that can’t ever really happen in real life.”
“Like in Curious George when the tiger went in the house in the little boy’s bedroom. That would never happen in real life. Tigers don’t live in houses, right?
“Right,” I concurred. “Where do tigers live?”
“In the zoo.”
“Yes… sometimes. Where else do tigers live?” I was a bit dismayed that I was raising a child who only saw animals in their relationship to humans and not in their natural habitat.
“In jungles. But, we don’t have any jungles near us. We just have ants and spiders and mice in our house, right?”
Unfortunately, Clara was right. For whatever reason, perhaps because we live in an older house or perhaps because we live across from a small wooded area, our house seems to be a hang-out spot for local wildlife.
To be fair, I am probably not helping the matter by my no-kill policy. From an early age, I taught Clara that we don’t kill bugs in the house. We carefully trap them with a cup on top and a thin piece of paper on bottom and bring them back outside.
All of this goodwill came to an end last week when a very friendly mouse decided to make a residence in my bed. Yes, in my bed.
When I think of mice, I think of scared, little creatures scurrying across the perimeter of a floor in the middle of the night trying desperately not to be seen by humans. Our Toddler Mouse was no such mouse. My husband dubbed him the Toddler Mouse due to his petite size and his toddler-like physical movements, jumping and stumbling through our house with a spunky independence that seemed newly discovered. Clearly, the Toddler Mouse’s mommy had not yet taught him to stay away from humans or to stay hidden away until nighttime.
The Toddler Mouse’s first appearance came when he decided to jump on my husband’s knee as he sat at his computer and then scurry quickly down his leg. For as much as I love animals, mice have always creeped me out, so it was with some amount of pride at my calm self-restraint that I stayed in the area in my bed reading despite the fact that a mouse was loose in the house.
When my husband asked if I was OK, knowing about my distaste for rodents, I said I was fine and then inquired how exactly the mouse incident happened. He explained that there had been a rustling sound nearby and before he knew it the mouse was on his lap. I took note of the circumstances and felt secure under my covers on my high bed.
Almost as soon as we finished our discussion, I heard a rustling sound from directly under my bed. Before I could react, I heard the disturbing sound of little mouse feet climbing up the corner of the bed, onto my pillow and scurrying across my hair! The sensation of feeling a mouse crawling along my hair while in my bed definitively ranks as one of the most skeevy experiences of my life so far.
“Ahhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhh!” I leapt to my feet, jumped up and down, reaching quite impressive heights in between my screams.
Clara never heard me scream like that and her initial concern about my well being quickly turned into delight that she had found something that could really get a reaction out of me.
For the past week, Clara found great joy in coming up from behind me and tousling my hair while saying with a straight face, “I think I see a mouse in there. Really, mama, a real mouse!”
In the mornings, she nestles in next to me, and softly squeaks as a smile stretches mischievously across her face. “Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. I think I hear a mouse in here,” she warns.
Yesterday, she decided she wants to be a mouse for Halloween. She is relentless.
My no-kill policy ended this week. The Toddler Mouse may or may not be gone. My husband set a trap and did indeed catch a mouse. I asked if it was the Toddler Mouse. He said it looked to be the right size but rigor mortis set in and even in mice, death does strange things to one’s appearance, so he can’t be sure.
My mom says that one seen mouse represents approximately fifty unseen mice that are hiding somewhere else in the house. This is a disturbing thought. I prefer to believe that we had one spunky, loner, adventurous Toddler Mouse who just toddled on into our house all by his youthful self.
In the meantime, my little Clara-mouse continues to keep the Toddler Mouse’s memory alive to my great chagrin and her great amusement. My hair still feels itchy just thinking about it.