Phoenix: Whatcha doin’?
Me: Baiting mousetraps.
Me: To catch mice.
Phoenix: I could catch mice.
Me: Um. Yeah. Feel free to start any time.
Phoenix: Put peanut butter on me?
Me: Not a chance.
Phoenix: But need peanut butter to catch mice.
Me: Only on the trap.
Phoenix: Oh. Peanut butter makes mice come in the house to get caught?
Me: Um. Not exactly. They’re already here. God help me if I’m attracting any more.
Phoenix: I will help you.
Me: Okay. This trap goes under the kitchen sink. Right . . . here . . . like . . . this . .
Me: Phoenix . . .
Phoenix (squinty eyes): Sorry.
Me: There was no mouse under there just now.
Phoenix: Could have been.
Me: Okay, I’m resetting the trap. Be good.
Phoenix: I’m very good. See. Being good.
Me: Setting . . . the . . . trap . . . now . . .
Phoenix: LOOKOUT! THERE IT GOES!
Me: Phoenix . . .
Phoenix (eyes squinty, tail wagging): Sorry.
Me: No you’re not. Go lie down.
Phoenix: You are no fun.
Later that night, 1:30 a.m.
Phoenix: MOUSE! MOM! MOUSE! GET UP! CAUGHT A MOUSE!
Me: Okay already. Let me get out of bed.
Phoenix: HURRY! GET IT!
Me: It’s in a trap. It’s not going anywhere.
Phoenix: Then why is it making that noise?
Mouse in trap: Bang! Clatter! Smack! Rattle!
Me: (Bad word.)
Phoenix: OPEN THE DOOR! OPEN THE DOOR!
Me: No dead mouse in a trap ever made noise like that.
Phoenix (bouncing off cupboard door): I will get it! Evil vermin! Will dispatch the vermin! Vermin flees before me!
Me: Are you part terrier?
Phoenix: What’s a terrier?
Me: Never mind. Move so I can open the door.
Phoenix, bouncing: HURRY!
Mouse (sounding angry): Smack! Rattle! Thump!
Me, opening door: Oh (bad word). It’s caught by one leg.
Phoenix, diving into the cupboard: GETITGETITGETIT!!!
Trash can, dish soap and bottle of cleaner go flying.
Me, lunging after Phoenix: NO!!!
Phoenix: WHEE!!! I’m hunting mice!
Me: You’re going to knock it out of the trap and then we’ll have an angry three-legged mouse running around the kitchen in the middle of the night.
Phoenix, snapping teeth: Who cares! This is FUN!
Mouse: What kind of a freak show is this! No one needs peanut butter this bad.
Me, grabbing trap and heading outside, bare foot and in pajamas: I cannot believe I’m doing mouse catch-and-release in the middle of the night.
Phoenix, leaping and snapping: GIT THE MOUSE! GIT THE MOUSE!
Me, opening trap and tossing mouse over the fence: It’s your lucky day, buddy. Run, um, limp free!
Phoenix: I could have caught that.
Me: Then what would you do?
Phoenix: Eat it.
Me: I don’t even want to think about that.