One of the most bizarre memories I have of living in Tennessee, occurred while I was working and did not witness it. I am relying on what was told to me by my wife, Carol although I did eventually see the cause of all the excitement.
I wish I could have watched her Tango with the rat that dropped in for a visit. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had been there but I'm certain I would have probably laughed, screamed with fear, or danced with the rat myself.
This event occurred while we were living in Lenoir City, a small town about 20-25 miles outside of Knoxville. The house we were living in belonged to a professor at the University of Tennessee who invited us to stay there while he and his wife spent the summer in New England.
The morning of Carol’s Tango she got up early to clean the kitchen while our son Paul slept. While washing the dishes she heard a loud noise, turned toward the stove, and watched the vent come crashing down onto the stove. To her surprise there was a large rat about the size of a cat sitting on top of it. This rat had been living in the attic and for some reason fell through the ductwork causing the vent to come tumbling down.
The rat and Carol were both startled and temporarily frozen in time. At first all they could do was stand and stare eyeball to eyeball as though they were in some kind of trance. Finally, Carol screamed and scared the rat out of its trance and it leapt at her. She screamed again but had the presence of mind to grab a nearby broom and swing it at the rat to keep it from getting out of the kitchen.
Her swinging broom manipulated it towards the open back door. She was fighting to protect her son, sleeping upstairs. The rat was trying to avoid being hit by a frightened, mad mother swinging a broom.
Eventually Carol succeeded in getting it out the door but unfortunately there was a screen door preventing it from going outside but her quick thinking and her door slamming ability trapped the rat between the two doors. It couldn’t go anywhere but up, so he climbed up the screen door and put his nose against the kitchen door window and watched Carol as she worked.
A short time later Paul got out of bed and scurried downstairs. Carol warned him about the rat and asked him to leave the kitchen door closed.
Paul was a curious typical three-year-old boy who wanted to see for himself so he walked over to the door and opened it. As he opened the door the rat stuck its head out, Paul saw it, and did what any brave three-year old would do—scream. However, his reflexes kicked in and he slammed the door shut and caught the rat by the neck. Unfortunately, the silly rat was able to pull its head out of the door. The good news is that he was still trapped between the screen door and the kitchen door.
When I got home the rat was still between the two doors. Carol and I tried to figure out a way to get rid of him. However, before we had our plan developed a neighbor or friend or someone came along and opened the screen door allowing the rat to escape.
That day Carol tangoed with a rat and while she was afraid she recognized the potential danger to her son. She fought the battle with the ‘giant rodent’ like she fought every battle she ever encountered, to win! As parents we often recognize hidden rats in our children’s lives and we help them fight to win those battles. That’s what good parents DO!
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