Last Saturday, I stretched out across the bed with the sunlight streaming through the window. I was in that space between sleep and awake. The peaceful moment that welcomed me into a new day was interrupted as I sensed my husband standing in the doorway, looking at me. “There’s a mouse in the house.” He said it in that slightly alarmed manner that my kids use when they’ve clogged the toilet again.
I lifted my head from the pillow and propped myself onto my elbows, eyeballing him, “Where exactly is it?” My husband is a tall, rather burly man. He doesn’t scream when startled. He builds things with his own two hands, and he smokes his detestable cigars in this relaxed, manly fashion that makes my chest flutter ever so slightly; however, this man DOES NOT deal with rodents. Or water. He’s made it abundantly clear that in the event of any natural disaster involving flood waters that I should save the children and leave him behind because he’s useless and dead. He thinks about the rats floating around in the filthy water and it brings us right back to the rodents.
“In your office. The little bastard poked his head out and looked at me as I was coming down the hallway. He saw me see him, and he ran back in the office.”
“So… since you’re up here, waiting for me to wake up, and not shouting triumphantly that you captured a mouse, I can assume the mouse could actually be absolutely anywhere in the house by now.”
“Shit!” he ran out of the room to the top of the stairs, then hurried back to our doorway and stared at me.
“You need me to come with you?” Eyes wide, he nodded his head. I’m no fan of rodents myself. I grabbed the baby from her crib and headed down the stairs. For some reason, holding the baby made me feel braver, like maybe the mama bear instincts will take over when I see the mouse and I’d go into hunter mode to protect my offspring from the ferocious beast. That did not happen.
We stood outside of my office door, peering into the room, trying to get a glimpse of the mouse, hoping to confirm it hadn’t relocated, but also not really wanting to see it as we both hoped it was a figment of his imagination. It would not be the first time he completely imagined a rodent that did not exist. He once demanded that a pest control company come to our house immediately to remove the rat that was caught in their trap set in the basement. He described it as big, and furry, and having a long tail. “I know a rat when I see one!” It was after business hours and they requested to come in the morning. He went ape shit on them and insisted they come immediately. They yielded to his insistence and there was no rat to retrieve. There was nothing at all. The trap had never even been triggered. He made it all up in his mind.
Sydney, our 10 year old, walked up behind us, “What ya’ll lookin’ at?”
We filled her in and she chuckled, “Well this doesn’t look like it’s going to work. Don’t you need to go in there to find it?” We turned to look at her with the I think I clogged the toilet face. She sighed and went into the office and began moving everything around in the room, hunting for the mouse. Omar went to the store for mousetraps while I stood in the doorway clutching the baby, directing Sydney. “Maybe if you remove the cushions from the couch, and pull out the foldaway mattress you can see under the couch, and see if he’s there.” She searched high and low but didn’t find the little sucker anywhere.
Omar returned and I asked if he felt like any less of a man, having his 10 year old daughter hunt for a rogue mouse. “Nope, not one bit,” he said, going down to the basement to lay some traps on the advice from my mother that the mouse might try to make its way down there. After he returned upstairs, Sydney went down to the basement, unafraid to continue her search. I didn’t dare go down there. I busied myself caring for the little kids and shouting encouragements to Sydney from the relative safety of the office that she assured me was mouse-free.
“YOU’RE SO BRAVE!!!”
“THE FUTURE IS FEMALE!!!”
After some time had passed, I heard her hustle up the stairs, “I found it… but I’m done now. Its stuck on the trap down there. I agreed to find it. You guy’s have to get rid of it.”
Omar descended into the basement to retrieve the wild animal, and emerged victorious over the subdued rodent. “We did it!”
Sydney gazed at him sideways, “Really?!”
“I said WE! You tracked it, I retreived it.”
Everyone contributes something to the family. Sydney has added “Hunter of Small Beasts” to her mantle. The rest of these kids need to step up their game.