Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Civil Disobedience

Today began normally. I woke up thinking about what an historic time we’re living in, remembering my parents’ and grandparents’ telling of where they were when Kennedy was elected, where they were when they heard the news of his death. My revelry was short-lived. Scout, our new mutt, began barking hysterically at the window. Bleary eyed and very pre-coffee, I ran downstairs in a panic. Seeing no other humans or dogs outside, I figured he had to go to the bathroom. We are encouraging the whole letting-me-know-when-you-need-to-go-outside skill.

I let him out and he bolted outside to find a small gray mouse in the rose bed. Yes, a mouse. Relative of the rat. This mouse was clearly dying, probably from ingesting the rat poison I have strategically placed in hidden locations in my house. It lay there pathetically helpless while Scout pawed and prodded it, trying to get it to play with him. To my new dog’s credit, and my gargantuan relief, he did not eat it or attempt to present it to me as a gift.

I knew that if my daughter caught a glimpse of the flailing rodent, the compassionate parts of her heart would spontaneously combust and she would instantly blame me. She knows about the poison. The older she gets, the less I can hide. Plus, her class had a pet rat last year, forever transforming her view of gnawing mammals. I successfully prevented the kids from finding little Mickey for a full 30 minutes. Then, my son, ever curious, decided to investigate what Scout could possibly be barking at.

“MOM! There is a mouse outside!! Come here right NOW!”

I came. Slowly.

“I know, buddy. I think we should just leave it alone.”

My daughter rushed over immediately.

“Mom, it’s not moving very much.”

“Hmm.” I tried to make my voice sound as innocent and ignorant as possible. “It’s not?”

Not thirty seconds later, she shot me this piercing You -Are -a -MURDERER kind of look. She didn’t say anything. Instead, she procrastinated brushing her teeth, put off finding socks, didn’t brush her hair, and picked at her breakfast intentionally. Just before I lost my mind at my perception of her disobedience, I realized that she was PROTESTING. She was standing up against “the Man” or in this case, “the MOTHER” who dared to rid the house of vermin.

I decided to let her.

I desperately want my kids to understand know God’s heart and object to injustice. In Alex’s 8 year old mind, the poisoning of a household pest is grotesquely unjust. So, I let her protest. I let her grieve for her new best friend, the dying rat, clinging to the belief that this protest could serve as a training ground for future objection to oppression and injustice.

She left for school, satisfied that she had made her point. I buried the rat later in the day because I was afraid of the accusations I might face if Alex actually saw it dead. Thankfully, she forgot about the rat in the course of her day.

I’m proud of her. Proud of who she’s becoming and SUPER proud of her feisty side. I have no clue where she gets it… ☺


  1. You're a good mom. Thanks for the lesson :-)

  2. You probably don't want to hear this, but "pet" rats (the kind you can buy at the pet store) are actually one of the best family pets you can buy. They are less mess and alot friendlier than hamsters or even bunnies. They have a bad rap because of their disease ridden wild cousins...

    My sister and I wanted a pet rat growing up so bad, but my dad couldn't seperate the pets from the little critters that would stick their disease infested heads out from under the stove top... so we didn't get a pet rat. :(

    But I can understand Alex's attachment, even though it's COMPLETELY different with wild rats/mice....

  3. I'm impressed with your ability to pick up the dead animal later. I really hope you have a big shovel!

  4. i love hearing stories about your family and how you let the kiddos be their own little beings.


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