by Tanya Ward Goodman
The mouse is named “Candy Corn.” He is grey on the top and bottom with a white middle. When we first saw this mouse, my daughter proclaimed in very passionate tones that he was “the mouse of her destiny.”
In the words of Taylor Swift : “Trouble, trouble, trouble…”
“We have a dog,” I said. “A dog that really needs to be walked and fed.”
“But this would be my own pet,” my daughter said. “I would take care of him and train him to live in my pocket.”
Because I’ve recently set some mousetraps in the basement, I worried about what might happen if this pocket training exercise failed.
“We have to talk to your Dad,” I said. I acknowledge that I totally and completely took the easy way out by saying that. I knew for a fact that my husband was going to close down this discussion pronto. As an added bonus, he would look like the bad guy while I would come off as simply non-committal.
When my husband opened our door, our daughter jumped on him.
“Mom said we could talk about getting a mouse. He’s the best mouse. The most perfect mouse…”
My husband wondered if he could come inside before he thought about adding a member to our family. He wondered if he could take off his jacket and put away his bag. He wondered if it could wait until after dinner.
Our daughter grew stormy. The emotional clouds gathered, but they did not let loose their store of tears. A minor developmental miracle. But she did not relent. The mouse was ideal. The mouse was her soul mate, her best friend, her animal totem. The mouse was needed.
My husband wavered. It was hard to remain strongly against the mouse when the movement FOR the mouse was so intense, so heartfelt. We sent our daughter up to get her pajamas on and when she was gone, we huddled.
“Why not?” he said to me out of the corner of his mouth.
I shrugged. We’ve had small pets before. Two hamsters, “FlowersHeartsandStars” and “Sunshine” were short-lived furry friends. Their deaths left me strangely bereft.
“These things hit you hard,” my husband said. “This mouse might not live very long.”
“Mice live for three years,” our daughter called down from upstairs. It must be said, her hearing is very good.
“This is the kid we’ve got,” my husband said.
This is a kid who saves bees from drowning, who rescues mosquitoes from the bathroom and sets them free into the night. She mourns the death of an earwig. She recently asked to clean out the garage in the hope that we might turn up a rat. She’s decided that when she grows up, she’ll find nearly extinct animals and keep them safe until they have babies and then release them back into the world. She wants a horse and a cat and a bunny and a mouse. The mouse will leave the daintiest of footprints on our house – the mouse is basically a fish with fur. Why not a mouse?
My husband thinks we should wait until morning to tell her that her wish has been granted. He wants her to learn the value of patience, but me, I’m the kid who eats the marshmallow right away. Why prolong the moment when we can be the beneficiaries of her complete and total love? Why wait? Besides, what if some python owner buys Candy Corn for snake food? We can’t risk it.
Our daughter’s screams are joyful. Her hugs are fierce.
And our family has one more member.