Early in our marriage we bought a house and were excited about fixing it up. We planted a yard. Soon slender strands of grass sprouted from the ground. The grass grew taller, thicker. My husband was pleased.
The neighbors called him “Perfect-Lawn-John.” He was known to get up long before he had to leave for his middle school teaching job, just so he could admire his smooth, velvety grass.
“Moles!” John bellowed one morning, startling me awake. He’d used his loud teacher’s voice–the one he saved for rowdy students. It sounded a lot like yelling. John pointed to several fresh mounds of dirt in the center of his yard. “Moles have moved in!” He grabbed a coat, then slammed the back door. I watched from the bedroom window as my husband scurried around, gently covering the three holes in his new yard. Taking handfuls of grass seed, John sprinkled them onto the broken earth, and patted the dirt down firm.
When he came back into the house, I could see from his determined expression that the moles were in big trouble.
“What are you going to do? I asked, not sure I really wanted to know.
“I’m going to talk to my Wilco man tonight after work and learn how to get rid of moles,” he said. That evening, freshly purchased mole poison in hand, he placed spoonfuls of instant death into the holes. “That ought to get rid of the critters,” my husband said, confidence his new tone.
The next morning six fresh mounds of dirt penetrated his yard. John rushed around again, gently covering the holes. Grabbing handfuls of grass seed, he sprinkled them onto the broken earth, and patted the dirt down firm.
“Traps!” he shouted. “Wilco suggested traps if the poison didn’t work.”
That evening John placed several newly purchased mole traps strategically around his yard. For several days, no mole dared to enter. My husband was sure he had conquered the mole problem–even though the traps remained empty.
By the weekend, more fresh mounds had appeared. Each morning my husband rushed around gently covering new holes. He read pamphlets on moles. He talked to friends about moles. Sunday afternoon, I found John standing in the backyard, gripping a long, green garden hose.
“They will not ruin my yard,” he said, waving the nozzle end of the hose in the air. “Flooding their holes will drive them away.” I was skeptical. His actions were beginning to remind me of the movie “Caddyshack,” and I wondered how far my husband would go to mend our mole situation. This man of my dreams–kind, loving, gentle–was turning into an obsessed mole maniac.
More molehills appeared the next morning, and the day after, and the day after that. My husband backed his pickup truck onto our yard. He wrapped silver duct tape around the broken end of a black rubber hose and attached it to the truck’s exhaust pipe; then he turned on the ignition and revved the engine. “I’m going to gas the critters,” he said, a sinister chuckle escaped his mouth. I wanted to point out that the heavy truck might cause more damage to his yard than to the defenseless moles, but I remained silent.
Certain that the gas method of extinction had prevailed, John jumped out of bed, excited to revel in his victory. Three fresh heaps of dirt graced his grass. Once again, my husband performed his now regular ritual: covering the holes, sprinkling handfuls of grass seed, and patting the earth down firm. He lost the bounce in his step. I tried to console him, but it was of no use.
One Saturday, after midnight, I was awakened when our bedroom door softly clicked shut. I reached over in bed to find John gone. My first thought: intruder! and assumed my husband had gone to investigate. Trembling, I walked over to the window and peered out. Alone in our backyard, clad only in his white Jockey shorts, stood my very conservative husband shaking his fists. He began to dance about on his damp grass, hopping from one foot to the other. These strange movements–lighted by the full moon–seemed to be the final chapter in this man’s mission to rid himself of those annoying nighttime creatures. When he finished, John walked back into the house and climbed into bed as if nothing had happened.
I stayed awake for a long time, studying the man I married, wondering who he was.
The next morning, no fresh molehills graced our grass. A week, then a month passed with no new mounds. Twenty-eight years ago, my husband danced with moles. Our yard has been molehill-free ever since.
A version of this absolutely true story (my husband swears this never happened, but believe me, it’s hard to get such an image out of your mind) first appeared in The Oregonian on April 6, 1997. Then a slightly different version won first place in Sweeney’s. Every year Sweeney’s sponsors an “I Hate Moles Because…Contest.” If you have a mole story (or video) that you want to share, you could win a $500 gift card. Enter between June 5, and August 31, 2013. Times a wastin’. Click here to watch the video and learn more about this crazy, fun contest. Good luck!
So what does this post have to do with raising a daughter with special needs? Not a thing. I’ve been on a little summer writing hiatus and have picked some past articles that I’m using on my blog for the first time. This incident actually occurred years before Lindsey was diagnosed as mildly mentally challenged. It was a time in our life that was more carefree–before we started going to doctor after doctor after doctor, before Lindsey became the focal point of our lives, our family. The kids actually loved watching their dad trying to get rid of the backyard mole problem (but that part is not included in this story). Lindsey and Michael sat in the bed of the truck, cheering their dad on. Anyway, I hope you will allow me this glimpse back in time–before the heartache of learning and struggling with a daughter who has special needs. I needed this today.
My first book, Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs will be out September 26, 2017. If you would like to learn more, click here.