The little man who lives with me, the one who, if whining were a full-time job would be making six figures, was napping on the floor of my in-laws' bedroom yesterday afternoon. I was also in a similar position on the floor when I looked up to see a chipmunk bounding across the carpet, toward the bathroom. The chipmunk did not appear to be running from anything or anyone. Rather, it gamboled across the room like a schoolgirl excitedly returning home with an "A" on her astronomy test. Yipee! Got 'em all right! And that Pluto question didn't trip her up! No sir! NOT a planet no mo'!
I knew immediately it was a chipmunk, as I am practically a woodland creature expert having grown up in the arboreal 'burbs of the Mid-west, and yet I kept examining the chipmunk because I knew I was going to have to report to my father-in-law that there was a chipmunk in his house and I needed to be absolutely certain that this was not another rodent or similar cavorting pestilence. There was no doubt this was a descendent of Uncles Chip and Dale, however. The spots and the lack of long tail and the gambol. Definitely a member of the species chippus munkeitus.
An all out pursuit of the speckled li'l imposter ensued once my father-in-law finally accepted that this wasn't just a white girl calling a runaway hamster a chipmunk. My father-in-law rooted through the closets and under clothespiles and under beds. He saw the creature, and as Loverpants said, "Well, two people have seen it, so I guess that means it was really a chipmunk."
Hours later, my father-in-law said he saw the chipmunk escape once he opened the garage door.
I'm going to trust that this house is now chipmunk-free, lest I be tempted to reenact that scene with the little old woman and the shotgun in Ratatouille.
When the chipmunk (or one of his other squatter friends--perish the thought!) finally exited the building, I thought about how uncommon this experience was.
Not only the part about the chipmunk. But the part about the problem exiting the way it came in.
A diagnosis comes, a check bounces. We are eager to be on the other side of this mess. We want to know the way out. But often in the dark theater of our lives, the glowing EXIT sign is a misnomer. It is a door that leads right back into the same dark theater, unless we can figure out how we got there in the first place.
How often do we struggle with something that is of our own making, or of our own invitation? When we have stress, do we often cast the blame on situations beyond our control? Or do we examine the landscape and see that we very much built the buildings casting shadows, and paved the roads that are now filled with potholes.
The chipmunk got into the house for reasons unknown but surely guessed: a pattern of careless door closing, a clandestine opening in the attic. It got out, but it could once again scare the ever living snot out of me tomorrow unless conscious changes are made.
My children borrow phrases from the Rescue Bots, the new, significantly more demented generation of Transformers. They sing the theme songs in their idle moments. They reenact scenes for me. And I struggle to remember whether I paid my credit card bill this month but I can bust out the entire rhyme of "Miss Suzy had a Steamboat" at the drop of a dime.
I can't unlearn or unsee or unhear some things rattling around inside of me. My children, their spongey minds and hearts ready to absorb everything around them (except my pleas to brush their teeth), are no different. For now, I can still generally audit most of the material they are absorbing. I still feel convicted to guard these little ones' hearts more vigilantly. Turns out that chipmunk got in he hasn't quite left yet. Not from my head at least.