I recently read an old friends post about hunting lemmings as a child.
Let me tell you a story. Please don't judge. Dude, we had NOTHING to do when we grew up, but play with the puppies from the dog yard, shoot squirrels and hunt lemmings.
As an adult college student in Oregon, one of the things you had to do was teach a lab rat to click a button for its food. My cousin Josie and I lived together, hung out every day, and generally were partners in everything. I can't remember if it was her project, or mine, or what exactly happened, but we could NOT PICK THAT RAT UP.
We would go into that large room filled with rats numbered between 100 and 1426, or something, and our rat was no exception. Students easily picked up their rats, pet them, named them, made them pretty, etc. Josie and I could NOT pick our rat up. Worst of all was the fact that our rat had to be a white rat with red eyes. WHY!?
Eventually, I think we failed the class, but upon talking to the psychology professor, we had an epiphany. We could not pick up that Rat because we had killed so many of its cousins that we were mentally blocked from developing any sort of relationship with a rodent. (Which explains why I SCREAMED when my daughters hamster got loose. I almost died!) He spoke with the professor and eventually we wrote a paper on the effects of growing up at a fish camp with nothing to do.
I used to be on my cousin Grover Jay's team, Goober, we called him. It was Me, Goober and Doccy, my other cousin. (I have like 72 first cousins on my mom's side) Josie was always on Bessie and Cody's team. Our cousin and her brother. The game was to see who could get the most "mice" (what we called lemmings) in a few hours time.
We "hunted" those mice with our driftwood clubs. We flipped abandoned boats, and boards and old sigalauqs (food storage places under ground). For some reason, I remember winning a lot.
We would each have a receptacle to put the mice in. Whether it was an old 55 gallon drum, an abandoned upturned boat, or a metal fish bin, we choose the bigger one usually.
Mice bite pretty hard, but we weren't too worried about that. I always wore gloves, cause I was a big chicken growing up. I did most of the board flipping, while my cousins Goober and Doccy did most of the clubbing and picking up. We ended up with probably 60% dead and 40% alive mice in our receptacles.
When we lucked out and found a pregnant mouse, we would take it in our hands, and squeeze out the babies, so we could have more. (seriously...I'm gagging just writing about it!) Did you know that baby mice don't have hair, or teeth? So, you can pick them up, and they feel like your pinky toe after taking a shower. Sort of smooth and soft and wrinkly and warm and moist.
After the time was up, we would decide what exactly we would do with them. I specifically remember the sound that mice make when you douse them with gasoline and set them on fire. If my children ever did this, I think I'd take them out back and have them whipped. I can't even believe that happened. I swear it wasn't ME who thought of these things.
(By the way, my Aana found out what we were doing once, and Eskimo's don't waste food. So, she MADE US EAT THEM. She made us skin them, gut them and cooked them on a stick over a camp fire. But she only found out once!) When we didn't set them in fire we did other torturous things to them, like drown them, or feed them to owls, or bury them, or use them as bait to catch squirrels.
I don't even know HOW kids think of these things, but when we were at camp this summer, my son was "hunting" mice and squirrels too. I don't know if its engrained in our psyche's or what. My six year old walks around with a driftwood stick and "hunts mice" too. With absolutely no encouragement from me.
Anyway, to this day, I can't pick up a mouse, I still get freaked out when I walk into a pet store and there are white mice, and hamsters (which LOOK like lemmings), and gerbils in cages. My heart absolutely does flips until we get away from that section. Give me a tarantula instead, NOT a mouse.
We passed the psychology class, but only because I think the paper and explanation of why we could not pick up RAT #625 was so off the wall that he had no other choice but to pass us.
I wonder if hunting mice did anything good for me, or taught me anything except to be on the better team with Goober and Doccy. Or if it just messed me up enough to freak out when in the presence of rodents?
Any of YOU have "skeletons" in your closets about crazy things you did as kids but would NEVER EVER let your kids do!? (not including drinking or smoking, which I actually never did!)
*Edited to add: I welcome all comments. ALL. Scold me, please. But don't ever EVER compare mice with CHILDREN. (Especially when you compare torching children with torching mice.) That is just plain stupid. Unless of course, you're a mouse. And if you are, then please, PLEASE feel free to charge me in mouse court with murder. Otherwise, stick to comparing mice with...say, MICE.