Today I heard Michael frantically screaming for me while I was in the school room. When he finally reached me he was schreeching "MOM! THERE"S A HUGE RAT IN OUR BASEMENT!!!! COME QUICK!!!!ITS HUGE!!!" My heart went right through my toes as I leapt from my chair. I bounded down the stairs waiting to see a snarling nest of vermin crawling around our new basement. I shouted out for Andrew and Peter to get reinforcements for the war I was about to wage.
What I found in the basement was instead Michael standing at one of the window wells pointing out."LOOK LOOK ITS THERE ITS THERE!!!!" Immediately I realized whatever nasty creature there was, was in fact still outside my house at this point. Next I drew close to the window to view the culprit. A tiny brown mouse peeked its frightened, hungry, and lost head from a small hole outdoors. "THERE HE IS!" Screamed Michael. "THERE'S THE RAT!!!"
I turned and said "Michael, that's not a RAT, its a mouse. "CAN I KILL HIM???" he hollered. I stopped for a moment and gathered my thoughts together. If the mouse was in our house and causing havoc, I wouldn't have thought twice about swatting it, but this was clearly not the case. I decided to ask Mike a question instead. "Hey Mike, do you know how to make a mouse?" He got quiet and then said "No" , "OK then, lets not be so quick to kill a creature who isn't doing us any harm then, hmmm?" He reluctantly agreed.
I kept thinking about it all day though. His over reaction, his misperception, his hasty and wrong first analysis of the situation. I think there are lots of RATS out there too, to be honest.
The people at the bank who have that snarled up look, the careless check out girl, the rude woman at the doctors office. Maybe it would be best for me to not trust those first intuitions so readily, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to not kill others with my words or shoot daggers from my eyes without first recognizing that those RATS may just be lost or hungry or frightened too. Maybe we all are.
And maybe someone bigger than us, just needs to come along and point that out sometimes.