“Mummy, there’s a pretend mouse in the kitchen.”
Larry has stomped into the bedroom with the imperious air of somebody bearing Very Important News. Instantly, and with a sinking feeling in my stomach, I know what this means: there is a mouse caught in the glue trap.
The glue traps are an absolute last resort. For months, hordes of mice have been frolicking nightly around the slightly-too-small flat, snacking on left-over rusks and bits of rice that have escaped my half-hearted attempts to clean up after baby Moe. We have tried ‘humane’ traps, snap traps, and poison, all to no avail. They may look small, brown and not particularly intelligent, but clearly these rodents are a highly evolved superbreed.
The last straw came at 4am the other night when, having finally dropped off after settling Moe for the third time, I was awakened by scratching right next to my pillow. One thing I do not need in my life right now is anything else keeping me awake at night. So the next morning I marched to the corner shop and bought the glue traps, square bits of paper covered in a substance so sticky that once the mice run onto it, they can’t get off.
I creep into the kitchen. Sure enough, there on the sideboard is a tiny baby mouse stuck fast to the trap. It must have been there for some time; it is still moving, but only feebly. I creep over and look into its bulging, terrified brown eyes. It looks back at me imploringly. All I can think about is its poor mouse mummy, stuck somewhere behind the cooker watching her baby die a horrible prolonged death. I think about all the months she must have waddled around pregnant, how she must have carefully built her nest, foraged for food, fed her baby right through the day and night: all for nothing. All because of me.
But there is nothing I can do. The baby mouse’s legs are so fragile they would break if I tried to disengage it from the trap. The only course of action available is to kill it as soon as possible. I gingerly pick up the trap and the mouse and shove them into a plastic bag. Then I put that bag into another plastic bag. I don’t like to waste plastic bags, but if it spares me the sight of spattered baby mouse guts I feel it is justified.
“Mummy, what are you doing?” Larry has materialised at my side. I know from his shrewd expression that there is no way I can pussyfoot around.
“I am putting the mouse into a plastic bag, Larry, and then I’m going to take it outside and hit it with a brick.”
“Oh.” Larry looks at the floor. “Can I see?”
“Er, no. Yes. Well, I suppose so.” So we both tromp down to the garden and Larry watches as I batter baby mouse to death. In hindsight, I think this might have been the Wrong Parenting Strategy. It is decisions like this that the books just don’t prepare you for.