My cousins and I stood at the backdoor of their house admiring the pristine white blanket of snow covering their back lawn. Barb said, “Let’s play duck-duck-goose.” The four of us were ages nine through eleven.
Plowing into the unsullied expanse, Donna called out, “I’ll make the circle.”
We fell in line behind her and all went around three times for good measure. Our tracks were wide and easy to see. A weak January sun cast blue shadows in the ruts we’d trampled. Alice, the youngest, complained, “When we play this game in the snow, our tracks show if we cut across the circle!”
Big sister Barb chuckled, “That’s a good thing, because cutting across the circle is cheating!”
Donna, Alice and I chose ‘nesting’ places to kneel. Barb walked the circle behind us. As she passed me she touched my head and exclaimed, “duck!” Touching Donna’s head, she once again proclaimed, “duck”. She did the same thing to Alice. On her third trip around the circle, Barb unexpectedly yelled, “goose!” as she touched Alice’s head. Jumping to her feet, Alice pursued her sister. If Alice tagged Barb before Barb got around to where Alice had been sitting, Barb would continue being ‘IT’. If not, Alice would then be ‘IT’. Seeing Barb drop down to her knees in her former spot, Alice stopped and stamped her foot in frustration.
I remembered our childhood game of duck, duck, goose one night during the week between Christmas and New Year’s this year. I was stretched out on the sofa reading a book. The house was very quiet since I had neither the television or the radio turned on. An unusual sound distracted my concentration. I wondered, “Am I hearing sleet tappity-tapping on the windows?”
I sat up and listened closer. The sound was coming from the dining room. Jumping to my feet, I stepped into the room. Something was racing around like crazy in the eight-inch suspended ceiling space! Was there an insane mouse up there?
Grabbing the church bulletin off the table, I got up on a chair right below the scurrying sound and slapped the bulletin against the ceiling panel a few times. Instead of hunkering down in fear, the rodent ran around even faster.
Tracking the creature by sound into the kitchen where the ceiling had also been lowered, I marveled at the volume of racket it produced. Doubt and icy dismay suddenly flooded though my veins as I thought, “Mice can’t make that much noise, can they? MAYBE IT’S A RAT!” High overhead, concealed by the ceiling panel, the creature tromped back and forth.
What could I do to get rid of these vermin? As fast as I thought of possible solutions, I thought of reasons why the plan wouldn’t work. Like Alice when she became ‘IT’ in our game of duck, duck, goose, I wanted to stamp my foot in frustration.
Needing moral support, I called my daughter, Tammie. When she asked me what was ‘up’, I cryptically responded, “Mouse, mouse, RAT!”
Chuckling, Tammie asked, “Are you playing duck-duck-goose with the rodents in your house?”
“Something like that.” I sighed, “Whatever the creature is, it sounds big.”
Soothingly, as if she were the parent, my daughter calmly reminded me, “You know how the kitties sound like a herd of elephants when they run down the upstairs hallway? You’re probably just hearing a mouse.”
“Even if it is only a mouse, how am I going to get rid of it? If I poison it and the cats catch it, the poison will hurt the cats. If it’s a rat, a mouse trap would be nothing more than a dangly earring for it to run off wearing.”
Tammie laughed at that imagery. She said, “That’s pretty unlikely. I think your imagination is getting the better of you. Set a trap and see what it catches.”
I slathered peanut butter on a mouse trap and set it in a place where the cats and grandchildren can’t blunder into it. So far, a rodent hasn’t either.
The other day while visiting my other daughter and her family, her youngest children spontaneously began to play ‘duck-duck-goose’ in the living room. I hadn’t known that children played that game anymore!
Watching them made me think again about my mouse versus rat question.
What unwanted rodents do I have living with me? If it is a rat I want to run away, as though the goose was after me. Maybe even faster. A rat is so much more disgusting!