What’s gray and furry and causes your skin to crawl at the mention of them?
No, it’s not the four-week-old zucchini you have sitting in your fridge, and I’m certainly not referring to your mother-in-law either (not mine anyway!) — I’m talking about MICE!
There are many topics that we just “don’t” like to talk about in public. Passing gas (even President Obama has to let one go now and again), itching our private parts (unless you’re an 8-year old boy, or male in general, no big deal), having bad breath in the morning, growing facial hair when you’re a woman approaching her 50s, and what you may have living in your walls, cupboards and other household crevices that only your family knows about.
Though I have five sons, I’m not going to carry on about the joys of breaking wind, the most effective way to scratch the groin area or the best way to combat dragon breath in the morning, but after the past two weeks of sharing our home with several families of mice who thought it would be fun to have their fall reunion under our roof, I’ll gladly speak of how these disease-born pests have impacted our daily life and how we’re managing to cope under such duress.
I’ll back up a bit to a time when I really scrutinized the way the Butler family lived. It was the year 2000 and we only had six youngn’s to raise, and our home was awash in the latest faux finish paint movement —sponging.
I had taken this creative expression to a whole new level when I sponged the inside of our fireplaces with the tranquil combination of sea green and cobalt blue, only then to hot glue shells and sea glass on the surrounding brick to give it that “Mystic Aquarium” feel.
It was somewhere between apple picking season and daylight savings time that I got a call from the school nurse that my daughter and her entire fifth grade classroom had become the lucky recipients of head lice.
Practically traumatized from this “dirty” experience, it was a life changing moment for me when I realized that “these things just happen” no matter how many times you bathe your child or clean behind their ears each week.
Seeing that I survived that horrific infestation, I know I can somehow hang on until the mice community, which is taking up residence faster than flies lay claim to road kill, can be permanently removed from our kitchen, garage, laundry room, master bathroom, family room, and did I mention kitchen and Heaven knows where else?
Those who’ve got a keen sense of hearing like me and our family dog are usually tipped off that there’s a mouse in the house when they lie still in the quiet of the night and hear that “scratch” “scratch” “scratch” in the walls, ceilings or worse in one of the drawers in your bedroom.
My husband, away on business for a good part of the week, keeps his pajamas in the nightstand next to his side of the bed. (Oh, you didn’t think a father responsible for eight kids wore PJs?) Last week I heard the familiar scraping of four little feet scurrying in the walls, but when I continued to listen, I realized it wasn’t in the wallboard – it seemed to be coming from a drawer.
Bravely, I turned on the light, grabbed the large cookbook I had been reading and tapped the nightstand to see what would happen. The scratching stopped for a few seconds, but then started right back up again. Slowly, I pulled the drawer open but nothing was there—or so I thought.
Lucky for me, I happened to have every mother’s biggest helper right next door in the master bathroom—my trusty plunger. I began poking through the PJs, and before I even got to the silk pair (no, I’m not kidding) I uncovered quite a surprise — a mother mouse and a nest of babies.
At 2 a.m. I quickly bolted upstairs and got my 17-year old son out of bed to come and rescue his hysterical mother. (Which I might add, he was simply thrilled to do!)
Once he “came to” and realized no one in the house would be going back to bed until Mickey and company were disposed of, he worked quite swiftly. The pajama drawer was emptied out near the woods and the following morning the exterminator was called.
To sum up, we’ve caught approximately two dozen mice, including one that drowned in the dishwasher. My younger sons think this is absolutely fabulous, as they patrol the house each morning to see what’s waiting in the traps.
The exterminator assured me it’s not us or how unkempt some of our square footage is.
“It’s going to be a very long, cold winter, and the mice know that,” he said, smirking.
Well, that I can live with — just don’t let on about the living conditions underneath our kitchen sink or what attracted that mama mouse to give birth to her litter in my husband’s pajama drawer!