We started noticing the critters in our dining room, darting back and forth behind our upright piano. I hate to say it, but they are kinda cute. They measure no more than an inch and a half long and have tiny black eyes that blink when they look at you. They have no fear and are not very smart, which makes you feel sorry for them. My son Ryan loves all creatures, so killing them is out of the question – or at least it was at first …
The mice soon became more brazen. They migrated to the kitchen. Darting in and out from under the refrigerator, they drove our cats to the brink of insanity. We saw one bold mouse relaxing on our couch in the family room, perched on an Afghan blanket. Was he waiting for me to bring him a soda and some snacks? Hey buddy, hand over that remote. One morning I found what must have been a mouse tri-athlete doing laps in our dog’s water dish. They were slowly taking up permanent residence in my house.
We bought a net, and I’m proud to tell you I’m now highly skilled at the trap-scoop-and-toss-over-the-fence technique of mouse catching. The problem with throwing them over the fence is that I’m pretty sure they come back.
The weekend of our neighborhood garage sale, our court became a parking lot of cars. I had trapped a rather large mouse in my net, and needed to hurl it over the fence. Standing in my front yard in my pajamas with my trusty net in hand and a frantic mouse at the bottom of it, I had no choice but to fling the rodent into the air toward the hill in front of a bunch of onlookers. I am sure they thought I was deranged. My neighbors sure thought I was. They kept telling me to call the exterminator.
Curiously, my neighbors hadn’t seen any mice at their house. The word must have gotten out in the mouse ’hood that the McKennas won’t kill you; they’ll just toss you over the fence.
At least three or four times a day you would hear one of my kids yell, “Get the net!” Oh sure, on occasion the cats would do their job, but then they would leave the remains proudly displayed for us outside the bedroom door. We had to quickly dispose of the evidence before my son saw it. I almost preferred the net.
I began realizing we couldn’t go on like this when my older son had a study date and a mouse ran across the girl’s backpack, sending her flying through our screen door. Not everyone thinks mice are cute.
My final straw came the evening I was cooking spaghetti sauce on my gas stove and a mouse popped his head out of the rear burner! I screamed and spilled spaghetti sauce everywhere! We still don’t know where that mouse ended up, but he is surely covered with sauce and may have scorched whiskers.
The next day I placed a call to my exterminator, Arturo. He informed me that a lot of people were dealing with field mice this year. It was a population explosion! He placed a bait box in our backyard and explained that the bait would get rid of only the mice, not my dog or cats – or kids, for that matter.
It’s been two weeks now and the mice are tapering off. The cats look bored and my son keeps asking me where all the mice went. I finally had to tell him the truth. He hung his head and wandered off. Hey, the madness had to end sometime.
The other night I went into our garage. My eyes could barely comprehend what I was seeing: an enormous raccoon was polishing off a dish of cat food. I screamed and ran back into the house.
“A huge raccoon is in there!”
Ryan popped his head out of his bedroom with a big grin on his face. “I’ll get the net!”