I have a vivid memory of a visit to aunt Rose and uncle Dave’s house in Hillside. Outside by myself back when little kids were allowed outside by themselves, I spot a tiny gray ball on a patio drain, the kind with the perforated grate over it. Upon nudging it with my foot I’m surprised to find it struggle and squeak. I excitedly ran inside to get my dad. He discovered that it was a mouse which had gotten its head caught in one of the drain cover perforations and proceeded to extract the mouse’s head and let it go. Years later while working outside with my father he picked up a pair of work gloves from the floor of the shed and some squirmy little pink things fell out of a glove. He put them back into the glove and put it back where it came from. These experiences shaped my views about the value of life.

When I lived in Montclair with my dog Emma there was a mouse that lived in the insulation within the wall of the oven. Whenever the oven was turned on and it reached a certain temperature the mouse would dart out and race around the walls of the studio apartment before finding some impossibly small space to hide in. Emma would make that nail scratching on floor attempt to chase it but she was always too slow. The whole experience was like a hilarious pinball game that happened nightly and went on for months until one day it mysteriously stopped. Soon after, while moving the stove to clean I discovered our mouse, dead. Emma walked up and sniffed it and we just looked at each other silently mourning our nightly comic relief ritual.

A few years back in my current house while watching television I heard a rustling coming from the cabinet above the microwave in the kitchen. What could possibly be up that high? Upon investigating I found empty bags of rice, half eaten boxes of pasta and so many mouse droppings at first glance I thought they were one of the ancient grains my wife stocks the pantry with. The entryway was a small hole where the power comes in to supply the microwave. Something had to be done, we had a toddler and they were messing with our food supply. I looked at all the traps and poison at Home Depot and decided snap traps were the most humane. Setting them up in the basement proved to be the spot because in short order seven were killed. We remained mouse free for 4 years.

Last week I discovered a partially eaten sweet potato on the kitchen counter. This time I had surmised the culprit had climbed the ice maker water supply hose behind the refrigerator, jumped onto the coffee maker cord and Wallenda’d the cord to the kitchen counter top. Back to the Home Depot a whole new line of mouse traps were awaiting me. No longer do you need to see or deal with the mouse after it’s killed. In a totally sealed unit, you pull a tiny door and bait the trap, pull a lever and place on the floor. A mouse walks up a ramp to the small feeding cup and when it gets there, the ramp snaps up like a Murphy bed crushing the mouse against the back wall of the trap. The only way you even know you caught a mouse is an arrow pointing to “mouse caught” on the side of the trap. You are then supposed to throw the whole thing in the trash.

Five days and five mice later the killing stopped. On the seventh day Jake yelled to me from the basement, “Daddy you better come down here”. On the floor near an unsprung trap lay this tiny 2 inch mouse.

We started to wonder how the little mouse had died and all my past mouse experiences suddenly came to mind. I want my kid to be sensitive to life the way I was taught to be. Today I bought a Havaheart trap on Amazon and threw away those Kill-N-Seal traps. There’s something very wrong about not seeing what you kill. It’s not like I’ll never kill mice again during the next infestation. I just feel that its important to see them and clean up the mess afterward.