A couple of weeks ago, in a rare fit of generosity, I allowed both of my children to have friends stay over on the same night. I even told them they could havetwo friends each. Ultimately, we ended up with a total of three extra kids that evening: my daughter had two other little girls over and my son invited one friend of his. It felt like a little bit of a party and all the kids were excited and amped up, which made it all the more brave of me to drag them along for a quick run to Kroger and Little Caesar’s. Everyone was well-behaved, though, and I felt a little like Carol Brady, strolling the aisles with this passel of polite children.
After we got home and ate pizza, the kids had fun making song parodies and farting nutcracker videos for Youtube. I was able to get some chores done while they kept each other busy and I even got some Christmas decorating finished that I’d been putting off. Maybe having more kids around was the way to go; everything seemed easier with more of them around.
One of the boys ran upstairs from the basement shouting, “I just saw a rat at the bottom of the stairs that was THIS BIG”. He held his hands about a foot apart to illustrate the enormity of what he’d seen.
Oh, MG- a rat!
Now, I knew that we had a problem with a pest of some sort, although honestly I had hoped it was a mouse. I live in an older neighborhood, densely packed with homes situated on great sloping hillsides and I’d seen evidence of rats around the hood. Two of them had met their fate in neighboring yards at the hands of my murderous cat Chaz. My friend and neighbor, Alex, had told me stories of seeing rats peeking in his windows to taunt him. And now, it appeared that my worst fear was confirmed- I had a rat in the house. (Shudder.)
I was understandably freaked out. David Jacob, my son’s friend who had seen the rat, was understandably freaked out. The other kids were all understandably freaked out. The dog wasn’t freaked out, understandably or otherwise. (At upwards of a hundred pounds, he really doesn’t ever get freaked out about anything with the possible exception of human food.) And, the darn cat, who wouldn’t have been freaked out, who would have just taken matters into his own paws, was nowhere to be found having slipped out of the house to hunt for vermin outside.
What to do, what to do?
Initially, I tried to calm the kids by telling them that we would shut doors and guard against intrusion by stuffing towels and blankets at the spaces under the doors. But, then, I realized that it was me who was not going to be able to hang. It was me who was the wimpiest of the wimpy. I just couldn’t bear the thought of a giant rat plotting against me in my own home.
So, I loaded all five kids into the car at about 11:00 pm and took off for Kroger. This second trip to the store was way more eventful than the first, with the boys trying to convince me to let them pick off the rat with a BB gun and the girls alternately squealing with horror and delight at the thought of a dead rodent. The only thing that all of us agreed on was the fact that peanut butter would probably come into play at some point. Although, secretly, I envisioned myself eating it myself, out of a jar, with a spoon while I cried about not being able to catch the horrible animal that had invaded my house.
Kroger and Wal-Green’s were busts in terms of rat abatement. Everything they had was for tiny little mice. Didn’t anyone else have to deal with these larger and more disgusting pests? Was I the only one?
Anyway, so by this point it’s about 11:30 and I’ve got two options: the smart one, which is to take the kids home, get them in bed and sit up all night armed with a broom and a glass of wine. Or, the not-so-smart option, which is to continue on to the Wal-Marts with five kids in tow.
Obviously, I decided to take them all to Southridge. They were pumped and ready to go because: A) they wanted to kill the rat and, B) Wal-Mart is a kid fantasy land.
Luckily, the super store had glue traps and poison specifically formulated for rats. Unfortunately, it also had aisles of toys and video games. It was all I could do to keep the kids focused on the task at hand. When we had what we needed, I discovered that there were approximately three open cash registers and one million customers waiting to check out, which is how, dear readers, I came to be the woman I had always judged: the one griping at her obviously tired children to “stop touching things” even though she was the one keeping them up way past their bedtime so she could go to Wal-Mart!
Judge not, lest ye be judged. Am I right?
The ride home was uneventful, save for all six of us singing along with Rihanna’s “We Found Love” at the top of our lungs. We arrived home at 12:15 am. The kids went to bed. I set the traps and barricaded myself in my room.
Some of the poison has since been consumed and a special electronic-pulse thingy has been added to the anti-rat arsenal; supposedly you plug this thing in and it emits a sound or pulsing of electricity through the house and drives them out. There haven’t been any more signs of infestation, but no dead bodies either, so we’ll see. In the meantime, my son is still devising plans to bombard the miserable creature with a shock-and-awe campaign of AirSoft and paintball guns.
I’ll let you know how it all turns out.
(This post was originally published on the Charleston Daily Mail’s Mommyhood blog.)