Dear Dr. Babooner,
Against my better instincts, I went to a pet store and bought my daughter a mouse.
Delilah had been agitating for a rodent of some kind an frankly, Rats are too gross. But I had to get something and mice can be cute, if you squint. I justified this decision as an educational move when the store clerk told me this particular mouse had been in an experiment that recently made news.
It was all about exercise and the brain. “Exercise,” according to a NY Times report on the results, “does more to bolster thinking than thinking does.”
How can that be? If true, this makes our mouse a groundbreaking researcher!
My daughter named our mouse “Samson”, isn’t she brilliant for an 8 year old? And he has lived up to the name – an impressive physical specimen, he’s an exercising fool – Jack LaLanne with whiskers. I totally believe he was in that study and I’m absolutely certain that of all the mice, he was one of the extremely smart ones.
He picked up the exercise bug, that’s for sure. Samson climbs the sides of his cage like a character from Cirque du Soleil, charges through his plastic tunnel like a maniac, and jumps into his wheel and runs like a demon pretty much 24 hours a day. The squeak-squeak-squeaking of that damn wheel sometimes makes it impossible for my daughter to study, but she refuses to leave her room because she’s afraid the mouse will start to “feel lonely”. She says when she reaches a part she doesn’t understand she takes a break from the textbook and lies down in bed with pillows covering her ears.
Here’s the funny thing: She leaves the book open by his cage and she swears that when she comes back to finish her work, Samson explains it to her in a way she can understand.
“He’s amazing,” she told me. “WAY smarter than the teachers I have at school.”
Dr. Babooner, I think Delilah is imagining all this but I’m afraid to call her on it because it seems to work for her and I don’t want her to fail any of these important tests.
But it’s also possible that Samson is a truly miraculous mouse and is, in fact, helping Delilah with her homework. After all, he grew up in a laboratory! Who knows what kind of crazy chemicals he was exposed to in there! But if the mouse is tutoring her on math, who knows what other ideas he’s planting in her head? For instance, I believe mice are libertines when it comes to sex.
I’m torn between saying nothing, calling a doctor, or calling some TV stations.
Dr. Babooner, what should I do?
I told “Concerned Mom” that this mouse is a gift – a practice run for later years when human charlatans will also try to impress her daughter with similar bombastic feats. Have a sit-down with Delilah and force her to take a clear-eyed look at her furry benefactor. What sort of teacher is he, really? If he knows so much, why is his main activity running forward inside a wheel that goes nowhere? Would he seem as smart if, perhaps, he got a haircut?
But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?