Originally titled "Have I Lost My FREAKING Mind???!", this post was begun the week after Christmas (at least I planned to write it then).  Now, I’m glad for the delay…recent events have made this "story" that much better.

This past summer, our family was terrorized by a family of rodents who took up residence in our kitchen cabinets and drawers, leaving their "calling cards" to taunt and tease, rendering the sacred place we COOK and EAT a veritable cesspool, reminding me, like a mini-but-just-as-ominous Big Brother, they were always "there"…somewhere (kind of like blog lurkers;) ).  I wrote about it so much (here, here, here and here) Tad suggested I move on for fear I would become known as "The Rat Lady".  I stopped writing after the second "kill", but if I’m not mistaken, when all was said and done, I caught and released or mercilessly snapped their necks like a dry twig   cheerfully maimed and dismembered "trapped" nine.  Yep, nine.  I felt bad at first, becoming a mouse-murderer and all, but then I just got TICKED and had NO mercy, kinda like when Jack Bauer gets killed ‘cept he’s not really dead and he’s Lazurusing to kick some bad guy boo-tay.  I changed diapers for over seven years, I sure as heck wasn’t interested in cleaning up–and DISINFECTING–what those STUPID mice left behind!  DIE YOU MUTHAS!  DIE!!  (it’s all coming back…cleansing breaths…).

So, why bring it up now?


"What in the world does he have to do with your little mouse story? " you wonder.

It goes like this:

Stephen has been begging to set up his 20-gallon aquarium since we moved to Tennessee 3 1/2 years ago. (Stephen?  I thought you said Thomas was the reason for this story.)  (Gimme a minute, I’m getting to that.)

Because it needed various new parts, and I was too lazy didn’t want to figure out what, I stalled the way parents will stall when they don’t wanna do something.  Wait the kid out til he forgets. 

Except he never forgot. 

This year for Christmas, on the recommendation from a little "bird", my in-laws gave Stephen a new 10-gallon aquarium kit with EVERYTHING he needed to start over (I voted for the smaller size because really, truly, bigger is not always better).   

He was thrilled, I was thrilled, so after readying the tank for life aquatic, off to Pet Smart we go to buy fish.  If I have one flaw (well, I have more than one, but this is the one I’ll concede today), it’s my well-chronicled inability to make a decision (can anyone say last year’s Book Meme?).   There are maybe 150 DIFFERENT tropical fish from which to choose!  Geezaree!  Of course, the choices were Stephen’s to make, but let’s just say he inherited a bit of my indecisiveness.  We looked at fish for an hour. 

Meanwhile, Thomas and Rachel went exploring.  Pet stores are good for that. 

I should have known better than to give them that much leash…in a pet store…when Thomas had Christmas money burning an ever-loving hole in his pocket.  Again, I say, "HAVE I LOST MY FREAKIN’ MIND?!" And note, it won’t be the last time I ask this, either.

About 30 minutes into Stephen’s fish expedition, Thomas comes running over.  It helps to know Thomas, he’s an excitable kid with quite a flair for the dramatic. "Mom, can I buy two mice, they’re soooooo cute and I’ve got enough money to pay for the kit and EVERYTHING."

Me, not really listening to processing what he said replied, "No, Thomas."  My attention remains on Stephen and the fish, I’m getting twitchy by this time, and off Thomas darts.

Ten minutes later, he’s back.  "Moooooommm, you’ve GOT TO see them, they are SOOOOO CUUUTE."  Now, Rachel chimes in in her matter-of-fact-big-sister manner, "Mom, they really are."  Because I am close to hurting Stephen by now  I’m beginning to lose patience with someone else’s indecision Stephen might make a decision more quickly without me by his side, I wander over to the rodent cages.  (Say it with me, "HAS SHE LOST HER FREAKIN’ MIND?!")

Hamsters (long-hair, short-hair, black bear, honey bear, panda, dalmatian, and more), guinea pigs…and "fancy rats".  What makes these rats "fancy" is beyond me, but wouldn’t you know it, they WERE the cutest rodents in the bunch!  While the others were sleeping in their little litter burrows, these guys were PERFORMING!  The KNEW they had an audience.  Spinning and twirling, running and chasing, nibbling and climbing, they were BUSY. 

U g h, (insert your favorite profanity here), my mama-Achilles heel had been assaulted with my son’s puppy dog eyes, his boyishly adorable enthusiasm and those entertaining little furry beasts.

I needed help.  My answer was still "NO!", but Thomas knew I was crumbling.  I HAD to get back to Stephen, so I thought I came up with the fail safe answer:  I handed him my phone.  Three words that Thomas understood would be the end of his little fancy-rat line….

"Call your dad." 

I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what Tad’s answer would be. 

I was wrong.

And the story continues later, this is waaaaaaaaay to long for a post about friggin’ rats! 

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