Modesto Christian School encouraged the students to be engaged in the pursuit of science, and it seemed that hands on experience was a good way to do that. Accordingly, Bobby's 6th grade class had a live rat in a cage in their room. Perhaps everyone has had a similar time in their schooling. We found out about this project the day Bobby came home with a large cardboard box containing this white rodent. "What's this for?" "Each kid in our class is taking a turn to bring him home for the weekend to make sure he gets fed." Well, of course, all six of our kids appreciated this cute deviation from family routine. He got plenty of attention. I don't remember if we gave him a name, or if he already had a name, but if I accurately remember what kids are like, it is likely we called him something other than "rat".
I'm guessing that every weekend was a grand gastronomic vacation for Mr. Rat, as kids tend to be overly kind to these beasts. At any rate we had the room and the curious inclination to host him for the weekend. What we foolishly ignored was the fact that Mr. Rat came to our home in a cardboard box. We had no wire cage. It usually does not require inductive experiments to realize that rats gnaw. And cardboard is very easily gnawed by a rat. And therein lies the tale (tail?).
During the night Mr. Rat discovered the emotion of loneliness. He missed the attention that six adoring young humans had been lavishing on this rodent all day long. Now it was dark and quiet. Are rats nocturnal creatures anyway? Seeking human companionship, he quickly gnawed a hole in his box, and began to explore the house. We put him on the service porch where the vacuum was stored, but nobody even thought to shut the door. It was a sprawling ranch house. He passed through the kitchen and the family room and down the hall. He passed the bathroom, Donna's room and two other rooms that served as boys dormitories. We found no evidence that he explored these rooms, but he certainly may have done that. He turned the corner and scampered down the hall directly into the master bedroom.
Now our king sized bed was situated in a way that Barbara's side was the longest distance from the service porch, and yet this is where he made himself known. In the middle of the night she screamed my name: "Rollie!" and threw the rat on me. It seems that she woke up with the rat walking through her hair. I guess it was worth screaming, but when she screamed my name, it made me feel that it was all my fault. Heads of household tend to get that feeling anyway. I think the kids were awakened, so I gathered the rat and returned him to his sleeping quarters, only to discover the huge hole in the corner of his box. But this time we had the sense to simply shut the door for the remainder of the night.
Barbara reminds me that in the morning Bobby was looking very guilty for the incident, since he had brought this guest into our home.