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of mice and very small men

All winter we have been cohabiting as it were with mice. They seem to make an appearance in our lives every time I'm pregnant. Maybe it's the extra-strong smell of female pheromones that draws them to me in this season... more likely it's the extra-lax job cleaning job I do on the floors and countertops. Anyway, we let them live rather peacefully all winter. In my hyper-emotional state I didn't have the heart to release them into a snow drift, or worse, deal with a dead little mousy on the middle of the kitchen floor in the morning. So I added a daily morning chore of cleaning mouse poop out of the silverware drawer. If you've eaten at my house recently, rest assured that any item soiled with droppings goes straight into the dishwasher, and the rest of the drawer gets a wipe-down with clorox bleach. I use pre-moistened wipes to make the task easier. Can't be a hippy in all things, I guess.

Now that spring is upon us and the woods are again hospitable, it's eviction time for our poop-producing friends. Last night was the first round or catch-and-release trapping. We use a small rodent trap baited with peanut butter, transfer them to a larger ferret cage (thanks Tom for once owning a ferret!) and drive them across the Concord river and all the way into Carlisle where we release them into the woods with a wink wink nudge nudge towards the rich person mansions all around. Look, I don't have many illusions that this is more humanitarian than a fast-working kill trap. The lifespan for a house mouse is about 3 months outside versus a year indoors, and if anyone forcibly reduced my lifespan by three quarters we'd be calling them a murderer too. Still, it's spiritually uplifting to watch them run free into those woods, and combined with the expectation of ten less pieces of poop in the drawer tomorrow it's a positively ecstatic experience.

mouse going free

be free little mousey!

I thought Harvey would have a fun time on the mouse freeing outing, but the weight of the occasion proved too much for him. After meeting our new pet mouse this morning he had no desire to let him escape, and as soon as he ran away Harvey let up a pitiful wail of "Mouse in woods! Harvey in woods? Find him? Yeah yeah find him?" This continued through our attempted walk through Foss Farm, on which Harvey called shenanegans, since Foss Farm is clearly not a "farm" as I had promised. Where are the goats and chickens? This is just a lame walking place where you lost my mouse!

harvey at foss farm

find mouse? find him?

The rest of the morning did not go much better for Harvey. We spent an hour in the parking lot at Whole Foods discussing whether it would in fact be possible to go into the store and do our shopping. When I tried to carry him inside there was kicking and sobbing on the level of hyperventilation (though thankfully the morning Whole Foods patrons mostly gave me sympathetic looks, and one older women even came up to tell me that her daughter did the same thing at his age). After 10 minutes of crying in the Whole Foods vestibule, I headed to the car to go home, but Harvey writhed like a scene out of the Exorcist when presented with the indignity that is a car seat. So I let him play in the car for an hour to see if he could get any calmed down and therefore facilitate the purchase of food. He liked playing in the car fine enough, but anything else seemed to him the end of the universe. So we headed home screaming and empty handed, just in time for a nap. Someone, apparently, is almost 2.

It's been obvious over the past week or so that Harvey is going through an incredible growth spurt, especially in the part of his brain that creates emotions. He's always been a kid who knew what he wanted, but recently he's started having real tantrums, not just protests that he doesn't want to do this or that but full and total break-downs where nothing in the universe can close the floodgates of woe. We can spend 20 minutes stuck in a loop (Do you want to go outside? Yes! Okay, so put on your shoes. NOOOOOOO!) that ends only in facedown sobbing against the couch.

By the grace of God I have felt remarkably patient heading into this phase. Although sometimes Harvey is clearly testing me and I have to be a little tough love when he goes without napping, I mostly feel empathetic for the little guy. It's hard having emotions so big that they overwhelm you. It's hard so wanting to go outside and so not wanting to put on your shoes. His brain is expanding to understand so much more about the world around him, and sometimes it's just really hard to process dual inputs of wanting a snack with not wanting to leave the car. I totally get that.

Also, I have knitting projects all over the house and these let me be happy with a lot of sitting and waiting.

Don't get me wrong, I do often end up cranky by the time Dan gets home. I'm a human too after all, and I have an emotional response of my own when I want to buy food or leave the house or turn off the yelling machine. But the days when Harvey seems to be the worst, these seem to be the easiest days for me to dial down my expectations, to take a deep breath, and to feel really grateful that I'm getting to spend this time watching him grow up. When we change our plans on a dime, or spend all morning in the car turning on and off the flashers, it makes me feel amazed and bewildered and incredibly fortunate to be Harvey's full-time mom.



Poor little guy, having to say goodbye to his mousie! I was feeling so down this afternoon that that part of the post almost made me cry...

I told him there would be another mouse tomorrow. Maybe we can keep the next one as a pet for a few days...

We already caught one mouse tonight! I heard the trap snap close and figured that, as a good host, the least I could do was move the little guy (or gal) to the cage for the night instead of letting him pace in the trap. I gave him some oatmeal and a dish of water, so I hope he'll report favorably about his captivity. I also reset the trap, so maybe we'll make it two for the evening!

Also, this post, which Leah neglected to link to, suggests that we used to have a total of four traps, of which three worked. Right now we have one that works and one that doesn't. Who did we loan those two traps to?!

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