While it is probably fair to say that we have rodent problems on our vacations, it does not paint our vacation rentals in the finest light. It really isn't either house's fault. Sure, we had issues with the Shaver Lake area but not with the house itself. The house was a lovely, modern, well equipped, mountain chalet. That a mouse got into the toilet was, at worst, the mouses fault and, in all fairness, probably no one or no things fault at all. And now, as we begin our annual sojourn at the Fisherman's Farmhouse in Cape Cod, I can't point to a particular aspect of the house itself that caused the latest incident. Should I blame the house for its proximity to the woods? I think not. And yet, so begins another epic battle between the Hornik family and the great outdoors.
My mornings are never peaceful. It is just a fact of life. I don't particularly hold it against my kids that they are incapable of turning on the friggin' TV and watching it mindlessly for a couple hours before awakening me. To do so would require some sort of consensus on what show to watch and that would simply be impossible for the four of them to manage. I would be thrilled if they would just pick some piece of crap and watch it like zombies for a couple or three hours. I don't particularly care if it is PBS or Nickelodeon or MTV, so long as I get to sleep. Truthfully, I am not a dad who objects to the TV. I'm not even a dad who begrudgingly accepts TV while looking down on it as a lower form of entertainment akin to cock fights and dirt biking. Rather, Rather, I am a dad who embraces TV. I'm a dad who grew up loving TV, as did my dad before me (his dad before him, on the other hand, cared about nothing other than the written word and classical music -- sorry Grandpa Grisha). So forget all this bogus social science that says my kids are getting dumber by the 7 minute increment. That's a bunch of crud. My kids are being entertained and nothing matters more than that. Except maybe me getting a couple more hours of sleep. But I digress. . . .
Every now and again I do get fifteen minutes or so of extra sleep. On those rare days, I awaken fit and rested. On those rare days, I jump into the morning with a great flourish, brimming with optimism. On those rare days, I do not think to myself "what on the planet was I doing having 4 children in 6 years." Several days ago I was on my way to enjoying just that, fifteen extra minutes of coveted sleep. The kids had been on the beach for hours the day before and so their morning feuding lost its typical edge -- the very edge that inevitably erupted with sufficient sonic force as to awaken me. That morning the kids had begrudgingly settled on Arthur on PBS (they had little choice; all the really good crappy TV was on extended cable and, horror of horrors, we were in a the land of basic cable for a couple weeks). As the kids lay across the floor and couches watching an Aardvark's elementary school tribulations, their vegetative state was broken by the scampering of little feet. And as quickly as they were awakened from their stupors, I was awakened from my slumber. "Daddy, there's something in the house!"
Now "something in the house" is certainly better than "someone in the house" but it still gets the blood flowing. As I ran down the stairs and into the family room, I passed by the something -- a speedy chipmunk heading in the opposite direction. To this day I don't know how the chipmunk got into the house but it became my job to get him out. Ask me to review a business plan. No problem. Ask me to draft a contract. Piece of cake. Ask me to program my Tivo. Will do. But ask me to evict a chipmunk and I'm at a loss. In the course of my daylong struggle with Chip (or was it Dale), I employed innumerable techniques and weapons. I armed myself with a trash can, a towel, a bucket, a book case, a net and 4 small children. I tried to trap him, redirect him, lure him, scare him, and confuse him. And at the end of the day I was about as successful in getting him out of the house as I have been in getting my children out -- not at all.
Over the last few days, Chip has periodically scampered across the hall or up the stairs in front of me as if to say "you are a pathetic loser and no number of higher degrees will make you any more competent at capturing me." He's like a streaker. He isn't running to get anywhere. He's just running for the pure pleasure of it. I don't really hold it against him. He's right. I'm no more qualified to catch him than I am to change the oil on my car or find a stud without hammering a half dozen holes in the wall. If my life were a TV show, Chip would be the living embodiment of my own personal inadequacies. He would pop up periodically in moments of self doubt to remind me of my past or future failings. He would appear on my computer (www.chipmunk.com) when I misspoke on a work-related phone call or he would sip a cup of coffee at my counter while my wife examined my latest shortcoming with her breakfast toast. Luckily, my life isn't a TV show and the jokes on him. I may not be able to capture a chipmunk in my house but I sure can use the yellow pages. The trapper will be here on Monday.