Thursday, October 20, 2011

How To Build A Better Mouse Trap

     I come from hardy stock: we were raised in the country, calling an old fixer-upper of a house "home." Seeing a mouse dart zig zagging across the kitchen in the Fall was fairly common for our family. My sister and I weren't screamers; we calmly put down our crayons, closed our Zellers coloring book and told which ever parent was home that we had a mouse. If our three older brothers were home, this announcement would be like a call to arms- prepare for battle- get ready for the hunt. They would arm themselves with whatever tool or weapon they could find (and that Mom and/or Dad would let them weild) and set up elaborate plans to kill or capture the mouse. My parents went along with this routine, which I now fully understand as a parent myself, because it kept three rambunctious and mischievous boys occupied for hours. We eventually got a cat when I was 10 (he is still alive, despite being older than dust in cat years) and we no longer had a mouse ritual; the cat would find them, play with them until they died, and that was it.

     I was not surprised in September (after moving into our very own old fixer upper in the country) when, upon entering the kitchen to replenish juice boxes, a tiny grey fluff with a tail zipped across the floor, frantically searching for a crack, any crack, in which to escape. I got the juice from the fridge and went back outside. I sat beside my husband on the deck and said, "oh yeah, the dentist called to confirm your appointment on Monday. And I just saw a mouse in the kitchen." After the kids were played out and ready for naps we went inside, where once again, we were greeted by the little grey mouse. I pulled open our Tupperware-landfill-drawer and took out a yogurt container, walked up to the mouse and *plop* trapped him under it. "Wow! You really are a country girl..." my husband said, slightly amused and slightly relieved that I wasn't hysterical. My husband caught one more tiny mouse later that day and then nothing else. We thought we had gotten off rather easily and were quite pleased with ourselves.

     Last night, after suffering through a No Nap day with two increasingly grumpy toddlers, all I wanted was some peace and quiet. I tucked the little ones in bed, made a tea, turned off the T.V. and as many lights as I could without stumbling around in the dark and retreated to the living room. Saku was snoring on the couch and I was goofing around on Pintrest (yes, that is where I have been all month instead of blogging. I'm sorry. I think I got most of it out of my system. I joined a support/craft group....we meet Tuesdays after my Pepsioholics meeting...) Suddenly, through my DIY daydreaming haze I heard the telltale sound of itty bitty teeth nibbling in one of my kitchen cupboards. I looked over at Saku- who was still snoring and farting on the couch- and mentally traded him in for a cat. I went into the kitchen, turned on a single light, got a empty yogurt container and opened the cupboard door. There, right smack dab in the middle of space was a tiny mouse, who instantly froze when he saw me (thinking I was a Tyrannosaurus Rex and couldn't see him if he didn't move?) I *plopped* the yogurt container over him and congratulated myself on being more awesome than a creature the size of my thumb. Now, although I am not (ahem was not) afraid of mice, I still find them disgusting and dirty. They give me the willies. I wanted to go through the food in that cupboard to see if anything was chewed or opened so I could toss it. The first thing I picked up was a long forgotten box of Special K Blueberry cereal from the back of the shelf (I don't recommend it BTW) which I peeked into to see if the bag was still clipped shut and WHOA holy shit!!! Out jumped another fucking mouse- right at me! All of my Country Girl training was instantly forgotten and I dropped the box of cereal and yelled...probably swore. Loudly. I can't be sure because instead of running away from me, this badass mouse was coming towards me. I let out a couple of girly screams and did the universal "There's-A-Mouse-On-The-Floor" dance. Saku, finally roused from his frigging beauty sleep and from drooling on my throw cushions, came running to my defense...until the mouse turned on him and sped towards his big furry paws. He too let out a girly scream (I swear) and ran back to the living room, which is a step up from the kitchen and obviously far safer from an invading mouse army. And that is where he stayed for the rest of the night. Wuss. I couldn't tell you where the mouse disappeared to. I can tell you where all the food from that cupboard went though- right to the compost pile. I was supremely grossed out. The cupboard was empty- save for the solitary upside down yogurt container/mousey jail so I left the door wide open and went back to the living room and positioned my chair to face the empty abyss from which the mice come (could totally be the title of a movie, yes?) Ten minutes later, don't I see the little bugger in there again trying to knock over the container (which I cleverly weighed down) to free his buddy. I ran over there with my container (Saku followed me, all excited, but stopped abruptly at the living room step) and got into position...until the I-have-a-death-wish mouse turned and ran straight at me. BAH! Yogurt container went flying and I made it to the living room step in about two enormous jumps (not bad for a pregnant lady eh?) and stood panting beside Saku- who was giving me a smug "told you so" look. WTF was up with this mouse?! Now I'm thinking, "does he have rabies?" Back to my chair, and I added oven mitts and an old wooden spoon to my arsenal. And Doc Martins...that I tucked my pants into (shut up and stop laughing- this is serious!) Sure enough, 25 minutes later The Steven Segal of the mouse world was back trying to free his trapped buddy. And true to form, he ran towards me instead of away to safety- but I had boots and oven mitts on this time bitch and I kinda held my ground. He played chicken with me until the last possible second and then zipped over towards the wall and started climbing my curtains!!!!!!  ( Did you know mice could do this? I didn't.)  I. Went. Postal. "Do you know how expensive these were?! Get off my fucking curtains!!" I yelled at him and attacked with the spoon. He flew off, landed hard, and zipped between a crack in the baseboards. I was pissed now- it just got personal. This back-and-forth continued until 11:30 pm; I was starting to get really discouraged: I was being outsmarted by a goddamn mouse. Finally, probably due to his exhaustion not my reflexes, I was able to catch the dare devil under the yogurt container. I put something heavy on top and called it quits. Nick could figure out how to get the lids on the containers without freeing the mice; my part of the hunt was done. My husband set our only trap in that same cupboard when he got home from work (good christ, why didn't I think of that?) and it got another one before we even went to bed.

     Neither of us slept at all last night; every sound was thought to be the arrival of new hoards of mice, I kept sitting up and shaking out the duvet cover in case there were mice on it, Nick checked the kids' rooms every hour. Nick was disgusted (he did not grow up in a fixer upper, and to him, a house with mice in it is a dirty, gross home) and I had a sever case of the willies. We got up tired this morning and right after breakfast we bundled the kids up and went shopping for poison and traps. Lots of traps. We kept the cupboard empty, smeared peanut butter on a handful of traps, and put a child safety lock on the door. As I write this blog, two traps have snapped in there. I know this because Saku marched right up to the living room step...and waited for me to go look. Worst. Guard dog. Ever. Nick has already started trolling MLS to find a new house, and I am seriously considering hitting up the animal shelter this weekend to adopt a pet that will actually have my back during the next stand off...

     I long for the good old days when our house was just old and crappy, not old, crappy, and infested, and when I was confident that I would not shriek and pee myself a little when a tiny grey fluff with a tail darts across our floor. Sigh.