It all started at about 11 o’clock. it was the first day back after a week of school vacation. After a week of getting up at 9 and enjoying a leisurely breakfast at 10, I had found myself swaying groggily by my bed at 5:30 AM. I’d managed to make and drink a cup of coffee before rushing out the door to school.
By 11 AM, I had put away the “American Revolution” and taken out “Water Transformations”. I had corrected a math test, answered emails, run morning meeting, met with the Librarian, set up bins of “Memoir” books, taught a lesson in spelling, taken the kids to chorus and picked them up again.
I was starved.
I was ready to eat anything that wasn’t made of plastic.
I got the kids ready to start our math lesson on “Customary Units of Length” and I casually pulled open my “Snack Drawer.” Now, this is a drawer in my teacher desk where I usually store a couple of items that just might help me make it through the day. I usually have a roll of rice cakes, a jar of Sunbutter and a whole bunch of coffee and tea.
I have never had a problem with these items in this drawer.
Today was different, though. I looked into the drawer as I gave the kids directions about how to convert inches into yards. I had just remembered that the day before vacation I’d placed a plastic container of salted, spicy dried peas in my Snack Drawer. Yum-o-rama; just what the doctor ordered!!!
I am a highly skilled, highly paid professional teacher, as many of you know. I am fully capable of pulling out a drawer, rummaging around for my snack and sneaking a handful of deliciousness into my mouth while I coach kids on how to convert feet into miles. So I talked about feet per mile, blah, blah, blah as I rooted around for the container of peas.
Ahhhh, there it was! My fingers felt the familiar firm plastic of the dried pea container. As I lifted up to my desk, my slightly preoccupied brain suddenly wondered, “Why is it so light?” I gave it a shake, but I kept on talking. “So you can see, boys and girls, that when I convert from feet into miles, I am going from a smaller unit to a larger one……”
I looked at the container, and my voice trailed off into silence.
There was one corner of the little plastic box that was completely missing. Chewed right off the box. There were no whole peas left inside, although there were a few pathetic bits of pea skin and salt rattling around in the bottom.
I gasped a little, and every student was suddenly actually tuned in to what I was doing.
Not wanting to upset any of my delicate charges, I dropped the chewed box into the trash and leaned forward to peer into my Snack Drawer.
It’s a little messy in there, but even so, it was pretty clear that there had been an awesome rodent party going on while I was away on vacation.
I found myself looking at the remains of shredded peas, some bits of salt, a pile of tiny yellow plastic bits that turned out to be the chewed edges of my Sunbutter jar.
There was also a prodigious amount of teeny weeny mouse poop spread all over the drawer. They looked like the world’s smallest sausages, all carefully arranged around the bits of plastic and tiny salted pea snacks.
I looked a little bit closer.
Along with the poopie piles, there were also a whole bunch of tiny black spheres spread out in the bottom of the drawer.
I moved a few things around. Nope, they didn’t get into the packet of hot chocolate. They didn’t touch the tea.
I started to laugh, and I couldn’t stop.
I lifted up a brand new, full bag of Starbucks Espresso ground coffee. One corner had been chewed open, and a stream of coffee was pouring out.
I had a sudden image of the poor little mice, feeling all happy and festive, partying in the drawer full of spicy peas. Feeling all Saturday Night, dancing with the lady mice and pooping up a storm. I could just see the Alpha mouse, chewing away for all he was worth at the silver wrapping on the coffee bag.
“Just you wait, ladies” I can practically hear him gloating. “You’re gonna just love what’s in this awesome shiny bag! Smells like a human, so its gotta be gooooooood.”
I can see his sharp little teeth finally penetrating the metallic shield and his mouth filling with an unexpected and most unwelcome pile of coffee grounds.
“Gah!!!!!!!!” I can just hear him scream, as he chokes down the pile of bitter, dry coffee bean flecks. “What the hell is THIS?”
The other mice must have cracked up and pooped themselves into a real uproar as they watched him try to clear the awful pellets from his mouth.
It must have been a hoot.
I looked up at my expectant students.
“Um”, I said. “I think there may be an incredibly hyper mouse racing around in our basement today.”
Then I made them go back to converting yards into inches and vice versa. We got through the rest of our day without any more excitement.
But I can’t get the image of that caffeine crazed mouse out of my head.
And did I mention that there wasn’t one single nibble on the package of rice cakes? Who knew that mice were so smart.