After making it to bed a little after midnight last night, I had just put my book down, turned the light out, put the phone on charge, and was drifting off to sleep when I heard noises from across the landing. Surely one of the children wasn’t still awake ?
A few moments later the bedroom door creaked open, and a finger poked my shoulder in the darkness.
“George has brought something into my room.”
George is our enormous ginger cat – the last of three brothers – survivor of being run over, serial murderer of mice and birds, and muncher of spiders extraordinaire.
After scraping myself out of bed I followed Miss 14 across the landing to her room, and squinted at George – sitting in the middle of the room, fixated on a cupboard underneath the bed.
“It’s in there, I think.”
“Maybe we should just leave whatever it is to find it’s own way out? I’ll leave the door open, and we’ll let it escape on it’s own? Back into bed please…”
I returned to my own bed, and had a whispered conversation with my other half. We decided that Miss 14 probably wouldn’t sleep if she knew there was some poor creature hiding in her bedroom. A minute later I returned to find her hanging over the side of her bed, trying to find out what was hiding. George had lost interest and wandered off downstairs.
“Don’t do that – you might get bit” (I had no idea what might bite her, but it seemed like the right thing to say).
Over the course of the next few minutes I moved everything littered around her bedroom to a neat pile at one end, and then started retrieving items one at a time from the storage area beneath the bed. I started to wonder if there was anything hiding at all as we got down to an old running shoe, and a sandal. And suddenly there it was – the cutest little brown mouse you ever saw – perched on it’s bottom, ears like radar dishes, looking straight at me.
Miss 14 saw the mouse at the same moment I did, and let out the cutest “oh!” sound I’ve ever heard. It didn’t look injured at all, so god knows what the cat was doing, wandering round the house with it.
Next problem. How on earth do you go about catching a wide-awake, scared out of it’s mind mouse ? I left Miss 14 to keep an eye on it, and tiptoed downstairs in search of something. I didn’t have a clue what the something might be, or how we might use that something, but I looked for it.
I returned with a large plastic cake box – used to keep home baking projects fresh. By now Miss 14 was having a long conversation with the mouse, telling it how it was going to be fine, and that I was going to rescue it and set it free. I couldn’t help feeling the pressure mount – what if it ran into the pile of clothes at the end of the room? What if it ran through my legs ? What if it bit my fingers or toes ?
The mouse was quietly sitting on the corner of a sandal – so I hooked one end of the coat hangar I used earlier into the toe-strap, and slowly slid the shoe towards me – and towards the cake box. The mouse flinched, but stayed put on the shoe. I thought it was going to be easy after all. It’s funny how things have a habit of going wrong just as you think they might be easier than you thought.
Just as the mouse approached the cake box, it finally burst into action, and made a flying leap to freedom – landing precariously on the edge of the box, and hanging on by it’s tip-toes. More by luck than judgement, I intercepted it with the lid of the box, and captured my first ever mouse.
“Would you like to come and help release it?”
Miss 14 nodded with quite some enthusiasm. And that’s how we found ourselves standing in the garden in our pyjamas at nearly 1am – I opened the box and up-ended it on the grass in the darkness, and out fell our temporary prisoner. After a few stunned moments it vanished into the darkness of the garden at quite impressive speed.
When I woke Miss 14 for school this morning, she yawned, rubbed sleep from her eyes, and said “don’t forget to wash the cake box”…