Once upon a time there was a cute little family of five that lived in Suburbia, North Texas. The Dada, the Mama, the Sister and the Twins. They all lived happily in a charming little house, close to, but not in, the ghetto of Suburbia. Also close to, but not in, a highly wooded area.
One day, the Mama took Sister to school. She loaded up the baby Twins, and happily commenced upon the ritual of school drop-off in this post-post-modern, ideal little world. After the uneventful excursion, she did some grocery shopping and returned home. Upon entering their humble abode, she instructed the Twins to climb into their highchairs while Mama put away the groceries and heated up lunch. While she hummed a sweet little tune and prepared a nutritious meal of mac & cheese and freshly diced strawberries, Mama thought about what a nice day it was turning out to be. The sun was shining, the children were cooperative, and the scale that morning said Mama was losing weight!
After her first trip to the dining room to deposit little plastic plates of food and little tiny utensils to the twins, Mama's day took a drastic turn for the worse. Upon returning to the kitchen, Mama noticed a flicker in her peripheral vision. A slight, tiny flicker. A movement ever so quick, yet real. She turned her whole body to get a second glance and suddenly her humming stopped. She gasped. Froze. Then started to shake. What lay in front of her was too unbelievable to exist inside of her perfect little day in Suburbia. There, on her counter, just next to her sink lay a sleeping rat. A RAT! A real, live, SLEEPING rat! It's 9 inch long tail swung lazily into her sink. It's little rising and falling abdomen marking it's deep sleep had been the flicker.
A bazillion thoughts began to scream within her mind. How did it get here? Didn't I just wash strawberries in that sink? How do I get rid of it? I can't wake it because it would run away into some other place of my cute little house! I can't kill it! I couldn't bear to watch a rat bleed onto my counter! I can't wake it up because it might move, but I can't leave it there because it might wake up! What do I do??????!!!!!! While on the inside, Mama's thoughts were yelling, on the outside she was not making a noise. Instead, she tiptoed back to the dining room and ever so quietly removed the Twins' highchair trays. With the stealth of a mouse, I mean, a Navy seal, she took the boys out of their seats and did the only logical thing. Mama and the Twins quietly, but quickly, ran to boys' bedroom, closed the door and climbed onto the bunk bed. Drawing strength from the safety that comes from being a closed door away from the sleeping rat on the counter, Mama called Dada on his cell phone.
The following is a true account of their conversation:
Mama: (whispering) You have to come home.
Dada: I can't hear you.
Mama: (whispering through tears) You have to come home.
Dada: What's wrong?! What's happened?! Jody are you okay?!
Mama: There's a rat. In our house. On the counter.
Dada: A what?
Mama: (more tears, still whispering) A rat. You must come. The boys and I are hiding on the bunk bed. We can't get up. You have to come. I have to pick up Sister from school, but I can't open the door until it's gone. I can't. I really, really can't.
Dada: I'll be there as soon as I can
Mama: (whisper yelling) THAT IS NOT SOON ENOUGH! I'M SERIOUS!! I CAN'T DO THIS!
Dada: Really, honey, I'm on my way now.
Mama: Okay, thanks. I love you
Dada: See you soon.
Mama and the Twins continued their self-enforced hideout even when they heard Dada come in the front door. The Twins wanted to run to see their father, but Mama quickly grabbed their chubby little arms and pulled them to herself. "We must stay here until Dada takes care of it!"
So they waited, and they quietly sang songs because Mama did not want to hear what it sounds like for her husband to dispose of the rat, nor did she want to hear the sounds a rat would make when it was being disposed of.
After what seemed to be too little of time for a person to take care of such a drastic, highly terrifying situation, Dada opened the door to the hideout and said the coast was clear.
Mama asked to please not be told any details of the disposal, but she did want to know that the animal was dead, not merely released. Dada said, "I didn't kill it. You did. There was a half-chewed ibuprofen on the counter next to the sleeping rat! It must have been in some kind of coma when I stuck a knife in it's neck because it didn't even move."
Upon confirmation of death, the Mama and the Dada began their search of the rest of the house for they had been told, where there is one, there are usually more.
What they found changed their own views of themselves for the rest of their lives. They found the rat's home behind their sofa! The evidence of habitation was a half-chewed doll shoe, a half-chewed milk carton lid, a half-chewed little green army man and a nerf ball ripped to shreds. That day, in the midst of Suburbia, in a charming little house, the definition of a Pack Rat slammed into the face of Mama and Dada.
After complete removal of debris, vacuuming, and floor scrubbing Mama and Dada and Sister and the Twins tried to go back to the way life was before. They tried to forget that awful day. They tried to pretend like they were the same people they were before. But deep down, everything was different. There was a feeling of violation and grossness that haunted them until the day they moved.
And in case you were wondering, the Twins never did get lunch, just some granola bars on the way to pick up Sister from school.