It started with a mouse.
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A few weeks ago, about 6:00 in the morning, I saw a small gray mouse running across my kitchen counter.
My internal conversation went something like...
"I haven't seen or heard a mouse all winter, why now when the weather is warming? Should I buy some mouse traps? Nah, I hate the guillotine type, and the sticky traps are even worse, so cruel. I know! I need a cat."
I didn't really think much more about it until one morning when I noticed that quite a bit of the potting soil in my African Violet was not in the pot, but surrounding the pot. I recall thinking, had the mouse decided the planter was it's own personal sand box.
Anyway, I cleaned that up, and told both children that we seemed to have a rather playful mouse living with us. Mr. Son stated, yes, he had been hearing it at night in the corner of his room, playing with something that rattled. Miss Daughter hadn't seen or heard the mouse yet.
Fast forward to Tuesday evening, the three of us were chatting, discussing various and sundry topics, when I mentioned I thought the mouse had moved on, as I had not seen any signs of its presence in the house lately.
Miss Daughter, "Oh, I killed it."
"I killed it."
"You didn't? How?"
"I caught it in a cup, took it outside and stomped on it."
"NO!?! You didn't! Please tell me you are joking?"
"What's your problem Mom? Isn't that better than just letting it loose to come back inside the house like Mr. Brother did when he caught one?"
"That's what I would do. I would take it outside, and release it out by one of the fields or the woods. Even when we lived on the farm, I felt like I was giving them a fair chance, even if they were caught on one of those sticky traps, I would remove them, and let them loose in the barn."
"Yeah, like thats giving them a chance...their feet all gluey, sticking to the straw, slowing them down, perfect, easy, for the cats to catch."
"Ok, Ok, you're right, not really giving them a chance, I guess it just made me feel better. But, I have such a hard time believing you...you...just stomped on it...killed it. Didn't that bother you?"
"Mom, I grew up on a farm. I've seen my cattle slaughtered, I've helped dress out two deer. You know how many pets we've had die. Mice are pests, we get rid of pests. Anyway, you froze two rats."
"I dunno, I never thought you would be so...so...callous about all of this. And, yes, I froze two rats*, but again, even though it was really stupid, I thought I was saving them pain and suffering, instead of dying from their tumors. I know, I know, excuses, excuses."
"I just learned to be this way Mom, it's part of life."
Mr. Son, "That's one of the reasons I liked it so much when I moved away from the farm, I didn't think I'd have to deal with anymore animals dying. It was too much for me."
"Yeah, now Kiko, just drags roadkill up into the yard for us to dispose of."
Mr. Son, "True, not a pleasant task either."
The subject was soon changed, but I went away with such conflicting thoughts running through my mind.
Miss Daughter has always been amazing to me, in that she has an almost uncanny ability to tame even the most feral dog or cat. I witnessed it time after time. We were very often the recipients of many city dwellers discarded "beloved" dogs and cats over the years, dumped off in the country, where they would "live happier lives". Many times these abandoned animals would show up in our barn, or near our home, starving and frightened. Miss Daughter, it seemed, instinctively knew the best way to encourage each animal to feel less frightened, to put them at ease, until eventually the animal would become friendly and loving.
I tried to reconcile that portion of her personality with her killing of the mouse. In her view, the only practical solution to the problem of mice in the house. Just something that needed to be done.
She is her father's daughter in many ways, he views all activities like that as "just a part of life".
Mr. Son's temperment is more like mine I suppose. I cannot view killing as something that is just done, because it has to be. I agonize over it, attempt to find another way to handle the animal's illness, or injury, even if I have no doubt the animal is going to die.
I keep wondering...if I had had a third child...where would his/her viewpoint on such an issue such as this lie?
This all has me in such a weird place mentally. I keep thinking of the things she said, and then review other conversations we have had in the past year.
And, I keep arriving at the idea, that when we all lived together, I was somehow a counter influence to her father's, and now that isn't happening. My mind tells me, I know she is old enough, smart enough, and I thought, moral enough, to make (at least on occasion) sound judgements...but there are a few things...that are so like her father...so very much.
And, I keep worrying over the thought...over the years, he was able to manipulate my thought processes, have me feeling crazy...trying to reconcile who I am, with who he thought/said I was/should be. Is she enough like him, that she could turn into someone like him?
He is not an evil person, but there is a hardness, a coldnesss, a narcissism within him, that I truly detest thinking could be a part of my daughter. Sigh.
* * * * * * *
*I was told the rats would fall asleep from hypothermia, and not suffer. Stupidly, I did not think it through, before going through with it, and...lets just say...they didn't slip peacefully into death.