Saturday, January 14, 2012

Of Mice and Books!

Mice terrify me. Actually all rodents terrify me, but today, I am writing about mice.

Real mice and literary mice (because after all, ALL of my life can apparently be tied in with reading and books).

Let’s start with a little story about real mice.

Over the last several days, there has been a mouse in the front office of our school. This has been a bit nerve-wracking for me because I use the bathroom in the office (my room is just two doors down from it).

Well, there have been traps set all around the office with peanut butter. Yesterday, it was discovered that said mouse has been licking all the peanut butter off the traps.

Wily little mouse.

So, our assistant principal put in those high-frequency sounding mouse deterrents that plug into outlets.

What a great idea, I thought!

Not really.

Fast forward to about 2:10 yesterday afternoon. I was on my planning and feeling pretty good about life in general. I had graded all my papers, was all set for Tuesday, and was just hours away from our three-day weekend. I decided to treat myself to a few pages of the Walt Disney biography (I kid you not) I have been reading before my seventh-grade students arrived at 2:30.

Perfect peace and quiet.

When what to my peripheral vision should skitter by? A little brown scurrying piece of fur just inches away from my feet which disappeared between the bookcase and my file cabinets.

I shot out of my chair and was in the front office within seconds where I stood wringing my hands and declaring the mouse had vacated its former premises and was now in my room.

There may or may not have been a note of hysteria in my voice. Have I mentioned how much mice creep me out???

So, our principal accompanied me down to my room. Sure enough, he found the apparently baby mouse behind my file cabinet. (I was kind of hoping my paranoia had been playing tricks on me.)

I may or may not have been standing in the chair of a student desk while he was moving the bookcase and file cabinets.

Upon the arrival of two custodians and another teacher, I left them to do their thing.

Imagine my dismay when my principal arrived back in the office to tell me that they had been unsuccessful in catching the mouse, and it was now in one of my closets.

I may or may not have descended further into hysteria.

Somehow I managed to teach the last hour of the day. I taught a good portion of it standing in my doorway.

When the kids asked me why I was doing that, I did tell them about the mouse.

One Student: Um, you know mice can go under doors?

Me: The door isn’t open for the mouse. It’s open for me, because let me just say this up front, if the mouse reappears, I am out of here. You are on your own.

Another Student: Gee, thanks.

Me: I will protect you from tornadoes, fires, and armed intruders, but I cannot and will not protect you from mice.

Luckily, my students know me well enough that they just laughed. However, I don’t think they realized I was being quite serious.

Yet Another Student: But you love Mickey Mouse???

Me: That’s what we call “irony.” (I then did a quick lesson on irony. That’s me -- able to bring out the literary element tie-in even in the face of an impending nervous breakdown.)

As soon as the students were dismissed, I was out of there.

I refuse to think about the fact that the mouse will still be there on Tuesday, and that I need to get into that closet to get out the copy of CATS (again, I promise I am not making this up) I need to show my eighth graders after they take their test on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

I didn’t always hate mice. In fact, growing up, one of my favorite books was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I loved that book so much I begged my mother for a pet rat. I know, I know -- my excuse was I had never actually seen a live rodent (when I did that’s when the phobia started). I was to discover there is a huge difference between anthropomorphic rodents and real ones. Real ones do not talk and hold intelligent conversations among themselves.
Another childhood favorite was The Cricket in Times Square. Who wouldn’t love Tucker Mouse and his streetwise ways?
And Stuart Little. Also a cutie.
Recently, Despereaux from The Tale of Despereaux has entered into the pantheon of literary mice. He wields a sword. I don’t think my mouse could do that. But he can lick the peanut butter off traps without setting them off, so perhaps I am not giving him enough credit.
Mice in adult books do not fare as well as those in children’s literature.

I think you know what I mean…

Mr. Jingles…
Lennie’s mouse in Of Mice and Men
If given the choice, I would definitely pull to be a mouse in a children’s book. My chances of survival would be much higher.

Of course, no blog would be complete without mention of the leader of the Literary Mouse Club and the only mouse I will willingly take a picture with -- our very own Mickey Mouse. (He has appeared in comic books and books, so he gets to be included).
I just wish that my new resident hadn’t mistaken the presence of Mickey-related paraphernalia in my room as a sign of a mouse-friendly habitat.


  1. You are hilarious! I love this post!

    1. Thanks, Jett! I got a kick out of writing it -- living it? Not so much. :)

  2. Fabulous! Yes, we love our Disney mice, but my favorite book serise is about "Poppy" i so love that even inspires me to integrate Science with Language Arts by disecting an owl pellet on the elmo....

    Also not a fan of the little critters skittering around on tne loose!

    1. I completely forgot about Poppy! Connor loved that series when he was younger -- read all of them that he could find. Maybe that's why he is so against harming the mouse currently in my room. :)

  3. In the post, you talked about being serious and the students laughed at you. I'm glad I'm not alone because it happens to me all the time with adults AND students. I can be telling someone something serious that includes my feelings on it, and they will laugh and laugh like I'm telling a joke. It's infuriating!!!

    1. I didn't mind that the students laughed when I was telling them the way things were going to be, but I can understand how it would be frustrating to have someone laugh when you were being completely serious. :(

  4. Oh my goodness, the visuals you gave me in this post had me laughing out loud! You are such a great writer.

    You know, I never quite realized how many mice where in books but they are everywhere.

    1. Ah, thank you, Leslie. :) I was quite proud of this one -- lol! I figured I might as well mine my paranoia for an entertaining blog. :)

      There are a lot of mice in books -- I started mentally listing them in my head as I was driving home Friday afternoon -- you're right -- they are everywhere!

  5. Jackie, after I wrote my first reply, I was telling my mom about the mice problem at school, and how some people choose to put them outside and have the live and let live philosophy; they never put it together that the mice come back - mice know a good thing when they have it. I made the Steinbeck reference to her that I would look for the student who would be my Lennie. My philosophy is 100% if it is in my room uninvited, it had better be prepared to meet its maker.

    1. I read somewhere that a mouse will return within a 1/4 mile radius. Yikes! I think I need one of those high-frequency sounder things in my room. I just want mine to leave.

      Unfortunately, I think we have several students who would volunteer to be Lennie. Yikes!

  6. Ah, I'd forgotten about the Cricket in Times Square! How did that escape our library at home?

    You poor thing, it's a good thing you don't have a cat that brings you presents of poor little field mice! They are wily though, no doubt. We've yet to find a trap that actually works.

    1. We love The Cricket in Times Square books -- it was my first book set in NYC when I was little. :)

      We do have two cats, but they are indoor cats, so they don't get to bring us presents -- thank goodness. :)