One dead mouse

by DaniGirl on September 7, 2008 · 10 comments

in Mothering without a licence, Tristan

I went out for an early-morning walk last week, and on the way back into the house I noticed that one of the neighbourhood cats had left a present in the driveway. One dead mouse. Cute little thing, too. I walked into the house, and asked Beloved to dispose of the poor little fellow on his way out to work. I’m all about equality between genders, but there are some jobs that just cry out for a manly touch, yanno?

I’d completely forgotten about it a couple of hours later when I was herding the boys out of the house to go to the grocery store. They were playing outside while I loaded Lucas into his car seat, and I remembered the deceased rodent at the exact moment they discovered it. I walked out and they were both on their haunches inspecting him, and I threatened them with nasty consequences if they even thought about touching the poor thing before I could pick it up.

I came out with a ziploc bag inverted over my hand and picked him up, cringing at the softness of his fur through the bag. I felt a little verklempt myself, which might be why I didn’t see coming what happened next. Not sure what else to do with him (we don’t – thankfully – get a lot of deceased rodents in the hood) I reverted the bag around him in much the same manner as I handle dog poops and zipped him inside. I didn’t realize that Tristan was right behind me as I walked into the garage and was about to drop him into the nearest garbage bag when he stopped me with a tiny voice.

“Mommy, what are you doing?” he asked, and I knew I was in trouble.

“Oh sweetie,” I said, my heart already breaking. “He’s , um, he’s dead, sweetie. I’m putting him in the trash.”

His face crumpled as he tried not to cry in front of me and was overcome nonetheless. I think it might have been the first time he really had an understanding of the finality of death. And his first lesson on the subject? Dead = trash. Good one, Mom.

I thought about burying him in the yard and making a bit of a ceremony out of it, but I was frankly afraid it would be a slippery slope leading to funerals for squashed spiders and road kill and who knows what else. So instead we just spent a little while talking about how he probably lived a good life, and how he’d go to heaven to play with all sorts of mousey friends in a big mousey field full of cheese. Eventually, the tears stopped and after a while, I even got him smiling. I was reminded that there is a big gap between four years old and six years old, and a big difference in the personalities of Simon and Tristan. While Tristan cried, Simon made jokes. Not mean jokes, but it was obvious that the dead mouse didn’t faze him in the slightest and he was perplexed by Tristan’s reaction.

Throughout the day, in quiet moments, Tristan would speak up again about the dead mouse, and I knew he was still processing it all in his little gigantic heart. Late in the afternoon, the boys were playing outside for a while, and when I came out later I found an inscription on the driveway in chalk: “I miss you moues.”

I wish I could wrap my arms around him and just hug him forever.

(I’d started writing this post a few days ago, and never got back to it. I was reminded of it again yesterday, when we got home from running some errands and Beloved noticed that a kitten had been run over in the road directly in front of our house. I am endlessly grateful to the city for their responsiveness. Within an hour of my call, while Beloved whisked the boys off on another errand, they had come by to scoop up the gory remains. Thankfully, they never saw it. I can only imagine the trauma that one would have caused.)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 snackmommy2 September 7, 2008 at 8:57 am

I was doing OK until I got to the chalk message. It certainly provides insight into that young man of yours Dani.

2 suze September 7, 2008 at 8:59 am

Ooooh, you have a beautifully sensitive boy there Dani…The chalk message made me tear up…

3 Rev Dr Mom September 7, 2008 at 11:54 am

Over the years we’ve had a few animal funerals. And some untimely deaths–the worst was when one of the kittens that my daughters had adopted when it was abandoned near our house was run over by the school bus while the girls were right there.

I’m glad you city was so responsive about the kitten. That really would’ve been hard to deal with.

4 Jody September 7, 2008 at 9:08 pm

I wonder if there is something about Fours and death — because yeah, you get the age difference exactly right, for our family at least.

Although now that we have two hamsters and a gerbil, I am already feeling anxious about an unpleasant surprise some morning…..

5 alison September 8, 2008 at 8:00 am

I’m agreeing with Jody. Four seems to be an age when this makes a big impression on kids. We had to have a beloved cat put down when Leah was four. She’s eight now, and still gets teary-eyed thinking about Bogey.

I’m glad the boys didn’t see the kitten.

6 Amy September 8, 2008 at 8:09 am

That chalk message did me in. He’s such a sensitive little guy…what a beautiful quality! Thankfully they didn’t see the kitten.

7 Annika September 8, 2008 at 12:28 pm

I was also totally okay until the chalk message. What a sweet boy! You must be very proud of him.

8 valerie September 8, 2008 at 4:44 pm

I think if he’d been exposed to such stuff at a younger age (like Simon now is), it wouldn’t have hit so hard. Poor guy. My two are totally inured to such as our cat loves to leave evidence of her hunting skills. Everywhere. Inside and out. :p

9 SC September 14, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Such a great story Dani… I love the little chalk message, and the different personalities of Simon and Tristan. Too cute!

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