Big Realization from a Tiny Mouse

I have an irrational fear of mice. It is bad news. My husband has established a preemptive strike in our basement and garage. He engages in an impossible battle to keep our home, which is surrounded by fields, mouse free. He tries to tell me almost everyone has to deal with mice. He says it is part of living where we do. He says mice are a fact of life.

I insist I’m going to move out if I see a mouse in the house.

I scream when I see one.  Or when one is caught in a trap. Or when I think I see one. Or when someone else sees one. In fact I might scream now just because of all the mouse talk.

Hair-raising screams.

Sam thinks it’s funny to reenact. (It’s not funny.)

Earlier this week, at 4:49 am, a mouse scurried across my field of vision while I was sipping my coffee and writing in my journal. I screamed long and hard. I threw coffee at it and bolted up the stairs.

“Get down there,” I said through clenched teeth, slamming the bedroom door.

The lump under the covers didn’t respond.

“ANDY! You have to go downstairs. There was a mouse.”

The lump grunted. Apparently after more than a decade of screaming over mice the urgency wears off.

I shake the lump. He opens his eyes and says, “Good morning.”

“It’s not good. There’s a mouse in the kitchen. Now I can’t make my oatmeal or pack lunches or pour my coffee in my travel mug.”

He winks at me. “I’m sure it’s gone by now.”

“No way am I going back down there.”

He stretches, squeezes the back of my neck, and gets out of bed. He is on mouse patrol (and lunch duty).

I get ready for work, wake up the kids, and am feeling rather brave. We will be mouse-free by tonight because Andy knows it’s either the mouse is gone or I am gone for the night. He promised it would be over by the time I got home because he put out sticky traps in extra places. Down the stairs and into the kitchen, I convince myself I can pour my coffee to take with me. Turning the corner I’m faced with a mouse. Stuck to a trap. Attempting to scurry across the floor.

I scream a hair-raising, wake-the-neighbors, scared-to-death, ear-numbing scream.

The kids come running.

“Is it a mouse?” they ask.

I’m standing mid-stair case. Stephanie says, “I can take care of this.” She leads the way into the kitchen. None of them are scared.

I can take care of it too…if only I had my phone. I convince one of them to hand me my phone. I dial Andy.

“GET HOME NOW!”

I’m hysterical. I ignore his I’m-restraining-my-laughs. “THERE IS A FOUR FOOT MOUSE IN THE KITCHEN! GET HOME!”

There is a pause. I’m sure it wasn’t because he was stifling his laughter. “Let me talk to someone rational,” he says.

I put Stephanie on the phone. She listens intently. “We can do it, Dad!” She is all too joyful for this near-death situation. She hangs up and says to me, “We’re going to remove it.”

I run to another room. She rallies the troops. Sam opens the garage door. Hanna helps with the trap. Together they take care of the six foot mouse.

Hannah pours my coffee into the travel mug because I refuse to go into the kitchen. Sam gathers the lunch boxes from the counter. We make it into the car.

I remain irrational.

I send Andy a text telling him how brave our children were as they engaged in an epic battle with a ten foot mouse.

“Maybe you need to get over it,” he replies.

Maybe he’s right. It would be a good thing to not be hindered by mice. I could overcome my fear, if I wanted.

But I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’m not sure the effort to overcome my fear is really worth the end result. I should be ashamed that my young children were able to engage in mouse removal and I refused to return to the kitchen even after the mouse was gone. I know it’s ridiculous. I know it’s irrational. Even though it’s limiting, I can live with it.  I’m not scared of snakes or bats or any other creature. Rarely am I hindered because I avoid mice at all costs.

I was struck by how perhaps it is this same attitude that limits teachers from shifting their instructional practices. Even though their current practices are limiting, they can live with them. It’s not so much that they don’t want to change their practices, but rather they’re not sure it’s worth the effort to change.

I spend a lot of energy considering how to support teachers with this kind of mindset. Until now I really didn’t understand how a person could not want to change. Perhaps I should face my fear of mice so I can figure out how to help teachers shift their instructional practices, even when they’re not sure it’s worth the effort. I think writing about mice could be the first step.