A 13-week-old dog in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. recently died from a disease transmitted by rodent urine. Residents have long been frustrated by the rodent problem, but this has tipped the scales for Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski. The dog was her pet, and now the rat problem is personal. The association has been working to get the rat problem under control for a while, but now she is reaching out to other local groups with proposals they work together. She’s also pushing for new compactor trash cans that block rodents from getting into the garbage. Rats can easily climb the current typical trash can models and access waste just lying at the top. Efforts are being made to put a grant program into place for businesses so they can more easily purchase the new trash cans. But, the rodent problem won’t be solved by new trash cans alone. Bushes must be cleared, rat burrows must be treated, and neighborhoods must work together if they hope to get the rodent infestation under control.
“Well, of course there’s a rat in the house. That’s just great.” I was speaking to myself, of course. There wasn’t anyone else around at the moment to fully appreciate the resigned and slightly sarcastic tone in my voice. There were days I loved being a mother of four. There were days I was so proud my husband was serving in Afghanistan that I didn’t mind being a single parent for another six months. This was not one of those days. This had been the kind of day that ends with me sending the kids to bed early and in tears because I was just too sick of their fighting to bear one more minute. This had been the kind of day that ends with me sitting on my bed, eyes glazed, can of whatever in my hand, and an open bag of some kind of junk food. This had been that kind of day.
It had started off badly, when I overslept. I’d stayed up late, because I had a chance to talk briefly with my husband. His call had been delayed for some reason, but we did finally talk. I miss him terribly. I miss my partner. After our conversation, I stayed up even later, feeling sorry for us and wishing he could come home and stay home forever.
Oversleeping means that the children are late for school. When I did wake up, chaos began. I had to yell at Martin for watching television before school, and make him get himself dressed and ready for first grade. Andrea pretended like she was still asleep, until I threatened to sing our Good Morning song, and then she was up like a shot and whining and complaining that life was sooooo unfair to her. Cody and Brady fought each other in their sleep, I think, because they woke up angry at each other and didn’t stop fighting all day long.
I got them all off to school, eventually, although Andrea missed her bus and I had to drive her to junior high. That meant I was late for work at the recreation center, which meant I missed our morning meeting and had to sit in my boss’ office for ten minutes while she told me how important it was to get to work on time. My boss is fifteen years younger than I am, and feels she has something to prove.
Work didn’t get any better during the day, but I managed to stick it out and make it home in time for the kids to come home. Helping them with their homework seemed like a special punishment designed for the worst levels of hell. By the time everyone had finished homework and eaten dinner, I wanted to kill everyone.
I survived another couple of hours while their fighting, bickering and complaining increased, and finally had enough. They all went to bed early, and I lay on my bed, too dazed to cry.
That’s when I saw the rat in the house. It stopped in the middle of my bedroom floor and just looked at me. “Good timing, stupid,” I thought, “I’m just spoiling for a fight!”