Half Measures: A Family Invader Returns

THE POSSUM INVADES! If you missed it, please return to Monday’s adventure where the largest possum ever born adopted itself into our family.  A cursory Google search on some informative websites reveal that a possum’s sense of tracking and direction can extend as long as 25 miles. I had a one thousand pound possum kingpin living in my crawl space and I only drove him 5-6 miles into the country before releasing him. In case you didn’t catch that, 5-6 is actually less than 25. I goofed. I swear, they never teach you the things in school that you’ll really need to know in life.

As you might have guessed, we’re heading deep into another possum post because I can’t seem to avoid them. Is one of the Chinese calendar month animals a possum? Because I’m pretty sure I was born in that month. Anyways, if you’ll recall from my previous post, Petey the possum invaded our home uninvited through a hole underneath a window sill and had been ‘crashing at our place’ for who knows how long. I took it easy on Petey; I could have called animal control, could have shot him, could have thrown him away, could have moved him in with my in-laws…but no, I had mercy and let him scurry into the woods to continue his possum life. Little did I know that he could easily find his way back from 5-6 miles away.

It had been almost 5 months since Petey had randomly shown up in our living room. We assumed the damage was done and Petey was popping back margaritas with his friends in the woods while our house was protected. And then the occasional midnight noise returned. Not every night, not very loud, but an occasional bang late at night. We couldn’t quite tell for sure if there was another animal in the house, but I decided to reinforce the exterior window sill where we thought Petey had gotten in several months earlier. I dug and dug and hammered more boards around the base of the area. Because that’s what dads do: protect the house with nails, muscle, and brawn. Big mistake.

The night after the boards went up was a horrifying, sleepless affair for my wife and I. By 10:00, the sounds were louder than we had ever heard. Something was RUNNING and CRASHING through the floorboards. We couldn’t tell if it was in the air duct or just loose below the floorboards but it sounded MAD. In the past, the possum sound was usually just a passing bang every 8-10 minutes. This was an incessant, loud rustling that honestly sounded like whatever was in the floorboards was rabid and/or about to rip through a hole in the floor to eat our faces off. It was terrifying to listen to. We couldn’t get to sleep–and that’s saying something as we were fairly used to going to sleep with animals making noises below our bed by this point. Something was going nuts. We took the vent registers off and tried to position pieces of hot dog, thinking he might be stuck in the vent and a bite of hot dog would bring him running. I crawled up and shot my flashlight repeatedly through the crawlspaces. We had no luck and were forced to fall asleep while a 1200 pound Petey rocketed underneath our feet like he was a pinball going back and forth.

In the morning, with the noises ceased, I went outside to investigate where I had boarded up the entry point. Sure enough, there was another path dug around the new boards and the critter had escaped. So Petey had returned, five glorious months later, snuck into the house, and thrown a temper tantrum when realizing he was locked in. He must have ricocheted through the crawlspace in anger for 5-6 hours before finally digging his way out (or not, this is really just a working theory). Regardless, I feel responsible for this second intrusion; after Petey had visited us 5 months prior, I did nothing to figure out how he had gotten in and what I needed to do to fix it. It was December, the ground was frozen so I couldn’t dig, and that was that. It kept slipping to the bottom of my to-do list. And then the noises started coming back and I finally addressed the situation, but it was much too late and I trapped a deviant little possum in my crawlspace.

Can you believe that a nasty little rodent snuck into my house, I drove it out to the country, and did NOTHING else to fix the situation? I know there’s a metaphor in there somewhere about doing things halfway to escape the immediate stress only for them to return with a vengeance much later. My excuse was that I was in school for my Master’s, working full-time, and trying to parent my first child…but we all know there will always be excuses. Way leads on to way and, if we don’t address problems immediately, a 1700 pound Petey will end up back in your living room. Or something like that. I’m just glad he managed to still dig his way out. Let me rephrase, I’m just glad she managed to still dig her way out…

Be sure to stop by Friday for the epic conclusion to what has become Possum week here at ParentalGrit.  As if raising our first daughter wasn’t enough…

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