We have mice in our house. That’s the long and the short of it. About every third night I can hear one scurrying across the hardwood floor of the living room above where we sleep. Now we haven’t had any damage to anything or found any, er, souvenirs from the little critter. But it’s there, and so I’ve set some traps in the house to try and catch it (them?). I put cheese on one trap, because I’m a traditional kind of guy in most ways, and peanut butter in the other, because they have a broad range of tastes over here.
On Saturday we woke up to a gloriously beautiful day in London. It was clear and bright, cool but not cold, and just gorgeous outside. We had breakfast together and watched some cats play in the garden, and basically sat around enjoying the morning. I checked the traps, but they were empty and I left them set.
We had plans to visit the home of a boy in Ian’s class. We were going to have lunch together and give the boys time to play. When we opened the door to the outer hall, there was a dead mouse on the floor. Now clearly we’ve all seen too much CSI, because we got a bit too interested in determining the cause of death, er, I mean, finding out how the little guy ended up in his present condition. Anyway, there were no visible entry wounds (there I go again), and so I scooped it up in an egg carton and put it in the trash.
The three of us got our coats and left the house, but when we got to the sidewalk Julie and I noticed that Ian hadn’t come out of the gate. When we looked back we found him standing by the trash can. Julie asked him what he was doing and he said that the mouse shouldn’t be left alone in the garbage can, and that he wanted to stand there a while. It was very sweet, but after a minute we told him that it was OK to leave, and also that it was very kind of him to want to stay.
Seeing your six-year-old son standing next to a trash can because he doesn’t want a dead mouse to be alone can make you think. We spend so much time as adults trying to re-learn our sense of wonder, our sense of the value of things and the needs of others. Ian still has it—he knew instinctively that even though we needed the mouse out of our place, that it’s sad when an animal dies, and that life matters. Ian hasn’t yet lost his sense of the preciousness of living things, and I admire him for that.
It didn’t come up again that day, but I continue to be amazed at how much there is to learn from the people in my life, no matter how old they are.