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Prole2 was sitting having his dinner.

He generally wriggles and jiggles in his chair but not nearly as badly as Prole1 who prefers to stand next to his chair with one knee up on the seat to eat.
They are both fairly good at sitting properly when told to but during animated conversation they both forget and squirm back in to contortions.

Prole2 was staring at the floor.

Prole2: What’s that?

Me: What’s what?

Prole2: What’s that? That mouse.

Me: What? Sorry?

Prole2: What’s that? That mouse. What is it?

Me: I can’t see….um….what?

Prole2: There Dad, there. That mouse there. What is it?

There on the floor, plain as day, sitting beside his chair and shivering slightly, was a mouse.
There were also two cats in the room, sitting fairly close by and something about the way the mouse was shivering made me feel that perhaps the cats had been paying it some special attention before dinner.
I thought they were acting odd.
It was not a very happy looking mouse but it seemed content to sit beside Prole2’s chair whilst we looked at it.

Me: Well. It’s a mouse.

Prole2: What’s it doing?

Me: It’s just sitting there.

Prole1: What is it?

Me: It’s a mouse.

Prole2: It’s a mouse.

Prole1: What’s it doing?

I waited for Prole2 to fill him in but Prole2 was staring expectantly at me.

Me: It’s just sitting there.

Prole2: Yes. It’s just sitting there.

Prole1 peered over the tops of his glasses in the manner of Lady Bracknell and then went back to his vegetarian sausages.

Prole1: A mouse. Just sitting there.

Prole2: On the floor.

Prole1 (chewing): On the floor.

I decided to move things on a bit and got a glass and gently placed it over the mouse.

Prole2: Mind his tail.

Me: Thank you.

I grabbed Prole2’s reading book from the work surface and slid it gently under the mouse and glass.

Prole2: What’s it doing now?

I took a look through the glass. There was no mistaking what it was doing.

Me: It’s weeing and pooing on your book.

I ignored Prole2’s helpless laughter and took the mouse out to the insect house. I let it go in the pine cone department.
This is my favourite part of the insect house, in the summer the cones are dry and open and all lock together, in winter they close up and go a greenish colour.
The insect house is a stack of pallets in one corner of the garden, the gaps in the pallets are filled with the sort of things solitary bees and lacewings like to live in.
I have never seen a solitary bee or a lacewing anywhere near it.
I am not sure I would even know a lacewing if I met one.
The pinecones are not good for either solitary bees or lacewings but I like them.
The mouse sat for a moment, them squeezed between two pine cones and was gone.
The mouse poo and wee was flicked into a bush and Lime Fresh Dettol Surface Cleaner was liberally applied.

Prole2 was head down on the table, shoulders shaking.

Me: What’s up with him?

Prole1: Still laughing.

Prole2 (indistinctly from the table): He…did a…did a…wee on my book…

All small animals do this to us.

The first time I caught a frog last year I knealt down and put it on my knee and let it go so the Proles could see it hop away.
I talked about it’s legs and skin and showed them it’s eyes, designed to be used in the water.
The frog clearly wanted to lose some ballast and emptied it’s bladder into my trousers and then half heartedly flopped sideways into the grass.

Oh how they laughed.

The very best one ever though was at a friends house where a Slow Worm was found on the back door step.
Five small boys were clustered round it, eyes and mouths open in wonder.

I decided to do the Dad thing and scooped up the Slow Worm.
It twisted through my fingers. They are silky smooth and have firm bodies, this one seemed content to be held.

It made no attempt to move it’s bowels onto me.

We all looked at it for a while and the various boys got up close to inspect it.

I offered it around the group.

Me: Would anyone like to hold it?

Shrieks of terror and much backing away.
Then Prole1 stepped forward.

Prole1: I am a bit scared but I will try.

I was so proud.

Being brave is to be scared but do the thing you fear anyway.
Good boy.
I took his hand and placed the Slow Worm in it.

Me: Gently now, just let it settle, don’t squeeze it.

Prole1: What is it doing?

Me: Well it’s doing….it’s doing a poo….

Who knew there could be so much inside one small Slow Worm?
Slow Worm poo, just for the record, is very like bird poo.
Whatever the consistency the other four boys in the group fell about laughing and Prole1 spent ten minutes in the bathroom washing his hands.

Part of me felt sorry for him but not the part of me that had changed all his nappies.

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