There are some things you only need experience once to know you don’t want to go through them again. Likewise, there are incidents in all our lives that shape us, make us who we are today. I think most of us can agree on that.
People say kids don’t really remember anything before the age or two or three. So either that’s a crock of hooey or I’m an anomaly. I VERY. FLIPPIN. DISTINCTLY. remember this as one of the most traumatic incidents of my life. And what makes it worse? To this day, it is a highlight at family reunions, cookouts, and sometimes even funerals when loved ones just need a good laugh.
I was probably about two or three years old—so really, right at the threshold of creating memories that would last. But since THIS was the TITANIC of my young childhood, it sticks in my mind.
My grandparents lived in the country. And by the country, I mean on a farm with pigs and chickens and sheep and sheep shit and hay and a barn and tractors. I remember the sheep vividly because I once made a grand entrance at Sunday School by announcing “I got sheep shit on my shoe!” (I was a very proper young lady.)
Farms have all sorts of critters, both large and small. And sometimes those critters don’t know they’re supposed to live OUTSIDE of the damned farmhouse. Like mice. Oh, the mice of my nightmares.
It was during a family cookout or dinner or something. There was no air conditioning, so maybe everyone was just eating in the yard so they didn’t suffocate during an extended period inside. Either way, every living soul was in the backyard. But I was a big girl, and I needed to go inside to pee. Off I toddled in my overalls. (OVERALLS. Because I was a lit ‘70s kid.)
For whatever reason, I went to the basement to pee. Not as creepy as it sounds, my grandma did have an office down there, and there WAS a finished bathroom and rec room. Honestly, I probably headed there because it was the coolest place in the whole house.
In that tiny little basement bathroom, I dropped my overalls and hopped on the throne in all my glory, dangling my feet in that innocent way kids do right before they start to sing their favorite Disney song. Except NO, not this time! This time, while my feet dangled in the air, a rabid attack mouse was attempting to launch itself out of the trash can adjacent to the toilet.
NOW. If you’ve never been caught with your feet unable to reach the floor, your undies dangling around your ankles, and an attack rodent charging you—all while you’re trying not to pee on your new terrycloth roll-down socks, then you won’t understand this next part.
As the beady-eyed monster reared its head over the ledge of the trash can, I propelled myself off of the toilet, grabbed handfuls of denim, and screamed as I ran up the basement stairs…stumbling over the excess fabric that kept drooping at my feet. I burst into daylight with my pants around my ankles, full moon shining, tears running down my cheeks, screaming about a mouse flying out of a trash can.
You can imagine the reception I received. I’d burst onto the porch in the middle of a full-fledged family hootenanny (had they invited MORE people since I’d left for the bathroom?)! Everyone had a great time laughing at my experience, and I’m pretty sure the poor baby mouse died of a heart attack with all the screaming and commotion we caused.
Here’s what I’ve carried forward in my life. Trauma is a very real thing. If I even sense there is an uninvited critter in my home, I will immediately go to the nearest home store and clear the shelves of every item I can possibly add to my critter-ridding arsenal. (That’s critter PTSD.)
I’ve also learned this. I’m now in my 40’s, and the fam still laughs at my bare-assed streak through the yard as I imagined I was being chased by an attack mouse. As I see it, I have two options:
- I could get mad that people are STILL having a great time laughing about it. (But I mean, honestly, I did it, so ummmm…there’s that. And it IS pretty funny.)
- Or, I could laugh right along with them and enjoy the craziness that life sometimes throws our way.
I’m opting for Number 2, because it makes life WAY more fun, and it promotes laughter over anger. If you have the chance to choose, choose that one. It gives you a much clearer path to happiness.
Also, if you have the chance to avoid mice in your trash can, I would do that.