WELL. Over the last few years I have shared many a life moment with you. The good, the not so great, the highs and the lows and the downright dull. I have obviously had to keep some things secret and for K's sake I have not shared absolutely everything that goes on under our roof but I have done my best to give you a good dose of the edited highlights. Naturally. As much as I would LOVE to tell you every last detail it really isn't fair on the rest of my poor family so, the edited version is as good as it gets. With this in mind I felt that really I could not share this last weekend's happenings as it is not something I want people knowing. And then I realised that this was a life changer and if we are to stay in communication you really have to know.
So, Friday night is where my tale of woe begins. Yet again K was out. Since last September when they met at Ted's 3rd Birthday party, K has been involved in a heady bromance with Blonde Bombshell's husband, I shall call him J. Anyhoo, K and J seem to be incapable of being in each other's company without beer and tend to imbibe said beer until gone midnight most Friday nights. So, it was me, as per usual, alone in the house with the children. I normally quite like this set up as it means I can watch Nashville and Honey Boo Boo - epic btw - without him tutting or sighing or generally questioning my intelligence level and I get to go to bed very early and enjoy the silence. However, since a nasty cough and cold (yet another one) over the half term Cybil's sleeping has gone up the spout so my silent enjoyment was short lived. At 12.45 am I was back in her room trying to convince her to lie back down and shut her eyes. She wasn't keen so I busied myself by visiting the bathroom (since babies my bladder capacity is unable to manage a whole night - also I know you might think that is an unnecessary and slightly unsavoury detail but it is pertinent - forgive me). I went back in to Cybil and tried to convince her once again that sleeping lying down was a much better idea than screaming at full volume standing up, when she dropped her dummy. I picked up said dummy and decided to rinse it (unusual for me as I usually dust it off, suck it or none of the above before I shove it forcefully back in her screaming orifice). As I re-entered the bathroom and stood at the sink to rinse the dummy, I was suddenly aware of something in my peripheral vision which caught my attention. It was black. It was in the loo. It was moving. At that moment the world shifted slightly on its axis. No, I had not left a moving bowel movement - it was in fact, a rat. YES. A live, scrabbling, wet, black rat trying to exit my lavatory stage right. (Pause for collective shuddering and shivering and involuntary noises).
Are you done? Good. Back to me. As you can imagine I acted with frightening speed. I shoved the loo lid down, placed our wooden steps on top of it, flushed and flushed and then ran back in to pacify Cybs with the dummy I was still holding. Then I flew downstairs, hoping that K was safely sitting downstairs/had fallen asleep on the sofa. He was not/had not. I ran back upstairs, ignored the screaming Cybs who was NOT pacified by the dummy and grabbed my phone. Mercifully he answered, (although in hindsight he wasn't exactly superman) and I whisper-screamed (for the sake of the other sleeping children) that there was a rat in our loo. He said he would come straight home as he was still drinking at J's house. I told him to run. I continued to keep trying to get Cybs to be quiet as I awaited his return. As soon as he got back and came upstairs I immediately realised that he had had too much to drink to be any use but it was still comforting that I was not alone in the house with four children and a rat. He checked the loo. Ratty was long gone. K struggled to cope with my hysterical state. Cybil's screaming did not subside. K sat down and put his head in his hands. I continued to blub. It was a rather horrendous time.
It is not like we have never experienced the hell of rodent invasion before - when George was small our occasional rodent visitors reached a peak and we definitely realised we 'had a problem'. We paid a rip off merchant to come here and fit traps and put down poison (I cancelled the £400 cheque he took off me for his 40 minute visit and his company started court proceedings but thanks to the wonderful Magician Godmother who put her law expertise to good use, it never got to court and I got away with paying them just £60 - far more reasonable) but even that didn't work. The only thing that did work was getting a stray cat to move in with us which is what K did on my 30th Bday and the problem went away almost instantly. So, it was a total shock that over four years later I was back to living in fear of anything that moved, felt scared in my own home and even worse I had no ability to control the problem or help to stop it happening again - I have no access to the waste pipe or sewage system (luckily I think) and we can't get rid of the loos altogether for obvious reasons. I admit to feeling exceptionally sorry for myself in those wee small hours. Whilst mentally acknowledging that it wasn't war, disease or famine and I'm sure if I lived in the slums of Mumbai it would have been very far from a big deal. But it was a huge deal in my world.
I was scared to walk passed the bathroom which I had to do each and every time I went in to Cybs. K was exasperated by my upset and terror as the rat had now gone. I couldn't understand why he didn't understand. I also couldn't understand why Cybs wouldn't bloody shut up (I'm sorry to be so blunt but only a person tortured by a bloody minded infant who is desperate to sleep but seems to be making the active decision not to, in favour of standing and screaming and snotting for hours on end, can understand the mindset and remarkable dispassion that suddenly comes over you and 'shut up' is quite the nicest thing I thought at the time.) But suddenly it all became clear to my sleep deprived, deep in shock and terrified brain. We were clearly OVERRUN with rats and my lack of dummy rinsing meant that Cybs was clearly suffering from Weil's disease, hence her screaming. I had, and still have, no idea what happens when you get Weil's disease but I knew of its existence (mainly because every time anyone lives near/looks at a house by any large area of water or river etc my mother always sites it as a reason NOT to live there) and so it dawned on me that the persistent cold, annoying cough and gunky eyes my baby had been suffering with over recent weeks were all due to our rat infestation. I did not share my findings with K. He had gone downstairs as he had rightly reasoned that there was nothing more he could do. He had opened the loo lid and shut it. He had told me not to worry. He had tried to stop Cybs crying. None had had any affect so he went downstairs to eat a takeaway. (I discovered the bag in the morning - either he a. went out again after coming back to get it or b. stopped in on his way home to get it as he 'ran' back to his terrified wife. I didn't fancy the argument so have ignored.) Eventually he came up to bed and started snoring. Ted had by this point joined me in our bed and was offering me quite a lot of comfort. He had no idea of my shock and didn't notice/didn't care that I had been crying but spent an hour being very cute, trying to sleep and keeping me company as I got out of bed every time Cybs started up again on her crying campaign. Eventually he fell asleep and I lay there shivering and worrying about rats and their diseases and waiting to see if Cybs would cry again. She didn't and seemed to have finally fallen asleep. Eventually I did too.
In the morning with K still asleep, I knew I wasn't brave enough to re-visit the scene of the crime. So, I did what all good mothers do, I sent in my eldest son. G unknowingly became my test for rat activity when he came in to the room as per usual to ask for some milk after he woke up. I agreed readily and asked him if he needed his usual morning wee. He did. Off you go then, I said. I waited. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred. I concluded all was safe. I did feel a teeny weeny bit guilty. Sort of. I mean, G is a great lover of animals - particularly the 'yuckier' ones, in my eyes, such as the snakes and spiders of the world. In fact we paid a small fortune (£300 should you wish to do the same/go in to the business) for a couple to bring all their 'yucky' and not so yucky animals to his party for his 6th Birthday party so that he and the other children could hold them. AND he has asked me for a pet rat in the past so in actual fact, if the rat had returned and set up camp in the loo, he may well have found it a treat so really I was being nice. In any case the rat was still long gone and G didn't even question why the steps were on top of the closed loo lid. I don't know if it is all boys but G is ridiculously unobservant when it doesn't matter to him. He would TOTALLY notice if one of the other children had one more sweet than him/bigger portion of food/toy/longer story etc but steps on a loo does not phase him. SO. By mid morning, the rat was gone, children were awake, Cybil was actually better than she had been all week and clearly didn't have Weils disease, Bea went out to her dance classes, K and G did battle at a shoe shop (G won) and life continued as if I had never had the shock of my life in the wee small hours.
However my mind kept replaying the event constantly on a loop. My house, which I fall in and out of love with on an almost daily basis, suddenly felt scary and horrid and unlovable. I felt that my sanctuary had been violated and I was incredibly on edge and miserable. K tried to reason with me. He assured me that any rat that could climb a waste pipe one floor up was not common and it wouldn't happen again. I agreed that the rat was indeed talented but it wasn't something I had stopped to discuss with it before I flushed and that it didn't stop my brain from running at a million miles an hour imagining what COULD have happened and, wondering if it did happen regularly but we just never caught any of them in the act before. I also demanded that the entire house be covered in poison just in case and that we move immediately. At that point K gave up trying to alleviate my mental anguish and stayed silent. I think it is quite common with men that if they can't 'fix' your problem then it is just annoying and they rather wish you would just be quiet about it as there is nothing they can do about it. K is the same with pregnancy although he usually makes the mistake of mentioning that it was 'my idea'.... So, suffice to say that the Saturday was a bit of a right off. I was incapable of finding happy thoughts or a happy place to take my mind off to. K was a bit grumpy due to the beer from the night before and my resistance to just 'moving on'. We carried on as normal for the sake of the children but my heart was majorly not in it. I shared my woe with cupcake sister. She was horrified. She told my mother, who I don't really think I wanted to know because she would no doubt view it as a slur on my housewifery skills. However I was wrong. She rang me on the Sunday to assure me that it 'even happens in Suffolk'. Good golly. In fact a neighbour of hers had had it happen in none other than Bury St Edmunds. She also said that she would be sleeping with the lids down from now on. And advised me to lace the loos with bleach. I was already one step ahead on that. I know it is not their fault but really, if they are going to unlawfully enter my sacred space then they should expect to meet with a wall of bleach when they do so.
All of this was such a bally (such an underused word) shame as the five days preceding ratgate had been rather blissful. K was still happy to have us home, we were still happy to be home, K had done some rather fabulous DIY and furniture rearranging whilst we were away and I had enjoyed hosting a very enjoyable coffee morning/lunch for my local friends and their various small charges (a number of them are childminders so there were a lot of small ones) on Wednesday and there had been another fun ladies lunch on Friday so all in all everything was going really well and I was very happy and upbeat. So the contrast to Saturday was stark.
Anyway, I don't want to Harp on. I am aware a rat in the loo isn't the very worst thing to happen to a person ever and by Sunday I was feeling less freaked out and tried hard to put it to the back of my mind as K's mum and husband were coming over for lunch. For a BBQ lunch, in what I was assuming would be a beautifully sunny day, according to the weather reports. Sadly it was freezing cold so the BBQ was eaten inside with roast potatoes and hot apple crumble but it was all very jolly nonetheless. It was a lovely day which 'normalised' the house again and my talented
ma-in-law brought with her matching nana-knits for all four children
which are entirely adorable and they all love too. It was just what I needed to get over my trauma. I am still not able to go to bed without checking the loos have their lids down with something heavy on top and I still send G to the bathroom loo every morning to double check (obviously I haven't told any of the children what I discovered as I don't want them to be as scared of the loo as I am), but I am getting less hysterical about it as the days go by. My relationship with our loos will never be the same again but I am at least able to use them without being entirely terrified. Progress.
Right that's it. I am off to bed. I am shattered and slightly freaked out after re-living it again. Let's hope that it is a beautifully uneventful night and I get lots of lovely sleep. I hope that I haven't traumatised you too and made you afraid of your loos. Don't live in fear. But I would urge you to keep your loo lids down from now on. Just in case.
Good night xxxx