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Shoot the Mouses, Daddy

This summer we had a bit of a mouse problem. Not a problem really, just more of a mouse presence. No, there were no mice in the house. No terrified scenes of Stephanie screaming while standing on a chair, clutching at her skirt and hollering for help. Nothing like that. These mice were all outside.

Our back yard had been allowed to grow wild for who knows how many years before we bought this house. As we started clearing all the brush from behind the house, the mice became displaced and were suddenly more visible. They liked running and burrowing right along side the house. Their presence was becoming common enough to be disconcerting, so my first step was to set a handful of traps along popular mouse runs.

I collected half a dozen mice that way. But then we got impatient. The summer was so nice, we were outside as much as possible every day, and we’d see them scurry around whenever we were outside. Our next door neighbor told us he’d simply popped ‘em with a .22 rifle when occasion called. I had a .22, and it wasn’t long before I started to reach for it whenever a mouse was around.

I shot the first one from the second floor front porch, pointed straight down to the ground below. It was a very satisfying feeling. More so than the Snap of a mouse trap around the corner. And so I began picking them off one at a time. Stephanie, always a fan of blood and guts and cruelty to small creatures, urged me on with what can only be called an undercurrent of bloodlust. She called for me whenever a mouse appeared around the house.

The boys also watched this and encouraged me from the elevated perch of our back deck. “Are you gonna shoot a mouse with your gun?” they’d ask. “Getcher gun! Daddy, getcher gun!” Toby would shout.

One afternoon when Mel and Teddy were here visiting from Texas, I shot a mouse at the corner of our house. The boys were running around playing and stopped to watch this with a lot of interest and curiosity. Once the mouse had been dispatched, I let the boys examine the mouse a little more closely. They were very interested, looked with fascination, and asked plenty of questions, but then moved on.

I have to stop here to explain and assure. Though we do have guns for reasons of recreation, hunting and defense, we also recognize the sacred responsibility that comes with gun ownership: the responsibility to keep all firearms secured against unauthorized users. And they are. What guns we have are stored unloaded and trigger locked. Anything less is criminal.

Not only this, but we have made the decision not to allow our boys to have or play with anything like a toy gun. Though I played with toy guns when I was a boy, and though we have friends who are good parents and allow this for their kids, we haven’t wanted to send the message that guns are toys, that they are to be played with, and most importantly that they can not be pointed at other people, ever.

Anyway, now Toby has this wooden puzzle piece that does not resemble a gun in any way. But somehow his imagination transformed it into one. We haven’t known exactly how to handle this. At first we told him it wasn’t one and put it away, but he has persisted. We have vacillated between ignoring it and redirecting him to other subjects. To his credit, the one time he pointed it at Stephanie, we stopped and had a talk about not ever pointing it at people. He said Sorry, Mommy, and has been very careful about pointing it (his wooden puzzle piece) in a safe direction since. So at least that’s something.

At this point, Stephanie and I just kind of marvel at him and exchange horrified glances whenever he talks about it. But still, he talks about it more than we’d expect. He talks often about the “mouses” and about how I should shoot them. At least once every few days. All these months later. When we see a bear on the TV or in a book, he tells me I should shoot it. It’s both amusing and disturbing.

Jacob doesn’t do this. For some reason the subject just doesn’t hasn’t made the same impression on him. But it has certainly made an impression on Toby. I’ve wondered if ignoring the subject would limit his fixation, and if perhaps taking him out and letting him watch me shoot would perhaps quell his fascination. I don’t want to raise the fascination to a whole new level.

Posted on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 11:55PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

It was quite entertaining to watch you shoot the mice. I don't think I took a picture of it, but it was funny to see them all lined up in a row (I think there were 3) next to the garage door.

Paddy at one point pretended one of his toys was a gun. We still have no idea where he got the idea though.
November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMel
By the way, it seems as if we've cleared them out. We haven't seen a single mouse since the end of June.
November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrian in AK

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