The year my youngest child entered fifth grade, the headmaster of her small school talked me into teaching science to the eighth and ninth grade. The job was supposed to be part-time, but partway through the year it took over my life leaving me with little time to cook and even less time to clean. As the weeks turned into months, my house got so dirty it attracted vermin.
Perhaps vermin is too strong a word. If they had been caged, I might have thought they were cute with their soft gray fur, round ears, and liquid black eyes. Yes, mice.
At first, I shrieked, “MOUSE!” whenever one scurried by. But soon I ceased to do more than give a little start, and turn drone-like back to writing lesson plans and grading lab reports.
My youngest daughter thought the mice were adorable, so to appease her I put out humane traps–oblong plastic boxes, a muted shade of gray, which were supposed to catch the mouse live and unharmed. I baited these with crunchy peanut butter and sugary cereal, the kind of cereal that my kids crave, but are only allowed to sprinkle, as a topping, on bowls full of plain Cheerios. The kind my husband eats by the bowl full when I am not at home. But apparently Frosted Flakes do not draw mice they way they draw my dear ones.