homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cold-blooded killer

We have mice. The uninvited, unwanted, un-pet-type. Lots of them.

We started with a few traditional traps and killed a handful right off. Then we felt too cruel and switched to a more "humane" catch-and-release model. We caught a LOT of mice...released them...and caught more. Or maybe we were just giving the same handful a nice snack every evening, topped by a quick field trip to the great outdoors, where they'd be challenged to make it back in time for the next evening's snack, who knows. We relocated probably 40 or so in this manner before one finally chewed through the plastic on the humane trap and we decided that enough was enough and started killing them again.

What else can we do? Little so-and-sos are pooping in the silverware drawer (shudder).

Of course, they're learning. We've had a number of mornings where we wake to find the trap picked clean and yet, it remains unsprung. How do they do that? I can't even manage to set the doggone thing without snapping my fingers. I guess weighing an ounce has its advantages.

Tonight...well, tonight I had my own private torment. We were watching TV and heard the snap. About an hour later, I finally came out to the kitchen to get rid of the little corpse. I slid open the drawer (empty of silverware at this point in the game, by the way) and found a LIVE mouse, with the bar pinning him not at the base of his skull--oh no!--but at his pelvis. My hated nemesis had now become a Helpless Creature Of God who had been lying there all of this time, partially paralyzed and, presumably, in pain.

Crap.

Now, I am no fan of the drawer-pooping menace. But I am a big softie. And it has gotten far worse since I've become a mother. I can't NOT want to comfort things in distress. And here I had a mortally wounded mouse. So you know the decision that had to be made. Let it suffer? Or end it as quickly as possible?

I should also mention that I've lately been shooting off my mouth to my Dear Husband about how his brother's farm is overrun with chickens and how they should use them for eating instead of just egg production (kinda) and pets (mostly)...scoffing at their emotional attachment and declaring that I would go out there and do the slaughtering myself. So here I was, with egg on my face (and yet, still--poop in my kitchen drawer. Have I mentioned the poop?) and a dying mouse in my hand, determined to suck it up and do What Needed To Be Done.

I figured stomping its little head would effect the quickest and least cruel demise.

Which it probably would have if I hadn't been so freaking squeamish about splattering mouse brains on my shoes.

I thought nothing could make me feel sicker than the soft crunching sound of his bones under my foot. But then I raised my foot and saw...labored breathing.

OH MY GOD!

So I had to crunch him again. Then his little legs wiggled. And I had to crunch him again.

And now I feel like crying.

Of course, I still want my silverware drawer back. But I think I reminded myself of just how tough I'm not, when it comes to that old circle of life.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Meaningful Milestones

I have a baby book for each of my children. As is the case with most families, each book is only half filled-in. Some of the blanks are going to remain blank permanently, like records of immunizations (we don't vaccinate). Others are pretty much pointless ("sleeps through the night?" Try age seven...or nine...or sixteen!). But then there are the other categories...the ones that I feel I should record, but upon more reflection, can't figure out why.

For example, our baby cut his first molar two days ago. Interestingly, his baby book only has blanks for the first eight teeth. After that, I assume, the magic is pretty much over. I remember wracking my brain with his brother, trying to remember to scribble it down on the calendar so I could transfer it to the book at a later date (i.e., when I actually located the book). Oh darn...did that tooth pop through on Sunday? Or was it Saturday? I remember my husband was home so it must have been a weekend. Then again, we just noticed it then...it may have come through a day or so earlier and I may have not noticed it until the weekend because (refrain, please!) I am a horrible mother!!

Wait a minute. In thirty years, who the hell is going to care on what day he cut his first upper left molar? Huh? I'm betting not even me!

Yes, some "firsts" are worth recording. Especially (and I hesitate to say this, but it's true) with your first. The whole growth-and-development thing is a daily wonder. But in the grand scheme of our lives, which firsts are really the ones you want to remember?

First word? Yes.
First pair of shoes? I don't really get this one, but okay, I'll grant a little romanticism.
First time he lifted his head? Hm. Pretty exciting that day...but unless he turns out to be developmentally delayed, I can't see when this information would be useful to refer back to.

For me, it's the emotional development that means more. Not what their bodies are becoming, but who they are becoming. Things like:

First time Mommy left him with Grandma and he didn't cry when Mommy left.
First picture he drew.
First time he was able to be trusted to play outside without constant watching.
First time he made up and told a joke.
First time he read to himself without prompting.
First time he prepared a surprise for a loved one.
First time he got his heart broken.

Teeth, schmeeth.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Spring Flower Show

If there is one recurring theme of childhood, it's that you, as the parent, get to relive and appreciate the wonder of the world through your child's eyes as he explores and discovers. Things that were previously mundane take on new levels of meaning and value. And you remember to marvel at the beauty in simple things.

I got my first spontaneous bouquet of flowers from my three-year-old the other day. They're the most beautiful things I've ever seen.