Category Archives: what to tell your four year old
I was up late working on the next chapter in my book, sitting at the kitchen table and staring at my laptop. Really into it, I leaned in, typing the perfect sentence down, and reading it quietly to myself as I went along.
Something stirred from across the room.
I knew it wasn’t the dog. Cyrus had already retired for the night, snuggled up in his blanket right next to my bed. I stole a quick glance and I almost screamed!
The brave little criminal came running across the floor, straight at me!
I jumped up and ran right after it. Don’t ask me what the heck was going through my mind at the time. Surely I couldn’t have caught it and wrestled it out of the front door with my bare hands. But at that point, I don’t think reason was anywhere close to floating to the front of my brain.
The mouse dove for the cabinets, I dropped to my knees and slid right after it. It was just gone.
It’s not that I don’t like mice. I do. They’re cute with little button eyes and twitchy noses. I’ve had quite a few as pets growing up. But wild uninvited mice in the house? No way. I know they serve a purpose in nature, just not in my house. Lots of germs, stealing bits of food in the night and leaving their….well, you know what I mean.
So! We loaded up a couple of wood mouse traps. Nothing after two weeks!
So now we’re at Tuesday morning, today.
I got up like usual. My son woke up and slipped into my bed, catching a few minutes of mickey mouse while my husband and I got ready for work. I got the little one up and we were all ready to head out the door when I thought, oh crap. I forgot to check my traps.
Already a few minutes late, I checked two of the four traps. And when I got to number 3, I almost screamed again! It was there!
In that split second I felt two things: gut instinct, sadness of course. And then I did a little happy dance.
I hustled my son out of the kitchen after screaming, “we got the mouse!”
He said, “let me see mom!”
I diverted his attention and asked him to go watch the dog and I shoveled the mouse in the trash. Then I took out the trash with the mouse carefully tucked inside, and I came back into the house.
“Can I see the mouse, mom?” He asked again, because he’d been so excited about trapping the mouse. He’d even pulled out all of his stuffed animals and built a “Dinosaur mousetrap” in the kitchen, in front of the fridge, just so he could be a big helper.
In that moment I could have done a couple of things: but gut instinct told me, he’s not ready for the truth and neither am I yet. So I told him, “Sweetie, I had to let him out fast before he got away. I’m sorry. But now he’s playing with his friends. Are you ready to go play with your friends at school?”
He smiled, and lit up with excitement. “Yes mom, I can’t wait to see Nick!”
So long story short. We had an unwanted criminal lurking in the dark. We caught him. My son was a part of the mystery, until the very end. I diverted his attention with a little white lie. I feel bad about that. But I wasn’t really ready to explain. Maybe it wasn’t good not to tell him the truth, hopefully it wasn’t bad, but in the moment I had to decide if he was old enough to understand why we had to hurt the mouse in order to catch him.
I know someday he’ll be ready, but just not yet.