I'm convinced God has a sense of humor, and every once in a while He likes to look down upon this beautiful Earth and say, "I think I'll mess with the Przybylas today."
One such event (or series of events) happened a couple months ago, when my youngest, Anya, and I were visiting my mom out of state. A few days into our visit, my oldest daughter Lia texted me to say that the cats had caught three mice that day. Not just one, as would happen a couple times a year. I was impressed, told her to put her hand inside a plastic bag to dispose of them, and to sanitize. Then I figured that was the end of the problem.
Lia texted the next day, telling me she'd found two additional rodent bodies. I raised an eyebrow but wasn't too alarmed, until again, the day after brought news of another mouse killing. From then on, each day until the time we returned home, the cats dispatched at least one mouse, proudly leaving their grisly trophies for one of the kids to find and freak out over. Every time I got a text, I assured them the cats were excellent mousers (obviously), and it shouldn't be too much longer before they took care of the infestation.
It was twilight when we got home, and as I walked up to the front door, I noticed my cat Oreo standing next to the porch. I squealed at him how much I missed him, and how I'd heard he'd been such a good mouser all week. Now Oreo is supposed to be an inside cat, and will usually scamper away if anyone tries to capture him after he achieves the freedom of the outdoors. I should have been suspicious when he didn't move as I approached, but I'd figured he must have really missed me too, and was waiting to greet me.
I picked Oreo up, leaned in to give him a big smooch, and stopped just short of his nose when I noticed his whiskers looked larger than usual--and were wiggling frantically. Squinting in the dusky light, I realized Oreo had a fat mouse in his jaws--the reason he'd been crouching so still when I'd approached. Forgetting to be indignant that his stillness had nothing to do with his joy at my returning home, I dropped the cat and ran screaming into the house.
I'm not the kind of woman you see in those cartoons, who jumps up on a chair at the sight of a mouse, hops from foot to foot, swings a broom, and hysterically screams for the hubby to "GET IT GET IT GET IT!!" I think pet rodents are adorable. I've kissed snails. I've even held still as a garter snake sank its needle-sharp teeth into my thumb. But wild mice carry disease, and probably bite when threatened. There's no chair jumping anytime I encounter a wild mouse, but there's always lots of screaming.
My 12-year-old Emily brought home a new friend the day after I'd returned home. When I walked into the living room to say hi, Emily's cat Crybaby (aka Fatty) streaked between my legs, intent on another escaping mouse. I shrieked as the cat clamped his teeth over the poor thing (I don't want them in my house, but I still feel pity when the cats' instincts take over), then I snatched Fatty up, intending to toss him outside and let him finish the job there. Fatty immediately dropped the mouse, which did a 180 and dashed between my feet again, followed by the cat. A good deal more screaming ensued, although I found the nerve to pick Fatty up again when he'd re-caught the mouse.
And then...he dropped the mouse. It ran between my legs. This cycle repeated itself twice more, with my screaming becoming ever more hysterical. If a chair had somehow found itself under my feet by then, I would have been hopping on top of it. I screamed "GET IT GET IT GET IT!!" at Fatty. I think one of the kids even threw a broom at me so I could swing it.
Finally, the cat caught the mouse, I caught the cat, someone opened the front door, and the cat sailed out onto the porch with the hapless mouse clamped tight in his jaws. I'm surprised Emily's friend wanted to visit again. For some reason, all the kids' friends think we're fun.
Over the following week, just like the week before, Crybaby and Oreo took care of at least one mouse a day. Lia's cat Yoda, the useless lump, would just watch from a high vantage point. I suspect he'd be a chair-screamer if you got a mouse too close to him. By this time, I was near tears with every tiny, mangled body I'd almost step on first thing in the morning. My husband and I considered getting traps or calling Orkin, but we didn't want the cats, who were finally earning their keep, to catch any poisoned mice. We were at a loss.
The final straw was when, on the third or fourth day of such insanity, we got a call from our neighbor across the street. I love her, she's a nice lady, but she's the type who will call to tell me one of the other neighbors has parked his car the wrong way on the street, or one of my kids isn't wearing a sweater when it's 65 outside. "I don't mean to alarm you," she said, "but I just looked out the window and saw three mice running across the street to my house from your front lawn."
That's when I cracked. "Thank you, Heavenly Father," I cried to the heavens, "This is a really funny joke, but can we please stop now?"
We were going to call the exterminator on Saturday, but that phone call was the last we saw of the Great Mouse Invasion of 2011. Over the next couple of months, the cats caught just two more mice. I've been extra vigilant for signs of another infestation, and have kept my jumping chair and broom handy.
It's been said that children laugh about 400 times a day, but the average adult laughs only 15 times. I can attest to the fact that we laugh a lot more in my family. I'm not only grateful for the gift of laughter, but for my ability to see what's hilarious in even the most ridiculously trying of situations. I'm even thankful for those times when God throws a joke at me, with the challenge to either fall completely apart or see the hilarity in it (even if I sometimes only get the joke long after the punchline has been delivered).
Yes, I believe that even He laughs too.