It’s a phone call no one wants to get.
There’s a squirrel in the house.
The squirrel didn’t make the phone call — our 16-year-old daughter did — shortly after waking up from a nap on the sofa to find the house-intruding rodent sitting on the coffee table staring at her.
“He was looking straight at me,” she said later as she told us the story, only after she could breathe again and her blood pressure had gotten back to nearly normal. She assured me the staring didn’t last long. She screamed. Not once, but twice. Maybe three times, she couldn’t remember. Then she jumped up and ran through the house into the kitchen. The dogs were going crazy. Was she safe? What should she do? She was home alone. She should call someone, she thought. But that would mean having to go back into the den to get her phone.
No way she was going to do that.
And then … there it was. In the kitchen. Sitting right behind her.
So she did the only thing one can do when a squirrel is sitting in your kitchen uninvited. She ran out the door.
I didn’t raise no fool.
I have never woken up to anything quite so terrifying as a squirrel staring at me, but on several occasions throughout my life I have nearly had a heart attack waking from a deep sleep with a basset hound’s front paws on the side of the bed and his nose in my face. And who can deny the sheer split-second terror of waking up to a toddler standing by the bed staring at you in the middle of the night? Especially when they are supposed to be safe and sound in their crib and surely would never climb out all by themselves.
Our kids were climbers.
The dog wanted to go out, and the toddler wanted chocolate milk. They pronounced chocolate milk “notmak” for some reason. Which made it even more scary, as I recall, waking up to a miniature person in footie pajamas whispering “notmak” over and over. It gives me the shivers just remembering.
I’m pretty sure the squirrel didn’t want chocolate milk.
“We will be home in just a little bit. We’ll take care of it,” I told our hysterical daughter as she called from her grandmother’s phone. Nana, as luck would have it, had just pulled into the driveway as our daughter ran to the front of the house trying to figure out what to do about the squirrel.
A grandmother’s intuition, maybe?
We arrived home a short time later, fully expecting the house to be torn to shreds in our cocker spaniel’s attempt to catch the squirrel himself. Instead, we found the dog in the kitchen, staring intently at one corner of the counter, daring not to move. Focused. And there it was, part of a tail sticking out from behind the blender.
Our squirrel was a climber. Or a jumper … or maybe a flyer.
I can’t think about it.
“Where’s a net?” my husband asked me.
Net? I’m not much of a crabber or butterfly catcher. No, I didn’t have a net. How about a laundry basket? Panty hose? Wait, I haven’t worn panty hose since 1990 …
Never mind. My courageous husband scared the squirrel off the counter, our determined dog chased it around the kitchen, and the freaked-out squirrel ran out the door and into the back yard. Our brave daughter would no longer have to stare eye to eye with a squirrel … at least not that one.
“Are you sure he’s gone?” she asked later.
“He’s gone,” I said assuredly. He’s gone. And thanks to the critter specialist, there are no ways left for him to come back.
So, let this be a lesson to you. If you wake up to find a squirrel staring at you, do the only thing one can do when a squirrel is sitting in your house uninvited. Run out the door.
Because I seriously doubt he wants chocolate milk.
Email columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.