Have you ever had that experience where you give a child a gift and they run to you and wrap their arms around your neck?
And if you say yes, please tell me it was with children who you know or are related to. Please.
There’s a British treat called a sugar mouse. It’s a little sugar fondant candy shaped like…wait for it…wait for it…a mouse!
Child A loves sugar mice. And a few years ago, I spotted some in a market and bought them for him for Christmas. We’d been home from our life in England a good three years by then, but when he opened up the package and saw the wee mice, he dropped them, ran to me and squashed me in a hug.
Those of you with boys know that that behavior becomes anathema for male children long before mom is ever ready to give it up. So I was thrilled.
Then Child A left the mice on his desk, hoarding them for some special mouse-eating occasion, and the ants got them.
I cannot tell you the magnitude of the bummer that was. Ever seen your eleven year old cry because the treat that meant the WHOLE WORLD to him was eaten by insects?
I hope you never, ever do. Scarred. Forever.
The next year I looked for sugar mice in the markets. Nope.
The year after that I looked for sugar mice. Nyet.
This year I was determined. I wanted the damned mice. I searched online. I found them. In England. $4 for a pack of mice and $26 to ship them.
$26 to ship 7 ounces of candy? Ummm, yeah. No. Unless you’re sending me a pound of Her Majesty’s Private Fudge I am not forkin’ over that sort of dough for mouse transport.
Fortunately, my dear friend Amy came to the rescue. Amy and I worked together at the hospital over in Kent. She’s a “physio.” (As they say over yonder.)
She found them. She shipped them.
Then I waited. And waited. And waited. Christmas came and went. No mice.
New Year’s came and went. No mice.
Around the 15th of January Amy asked if I’d gotten them, and I heartbrokenly told her that no, they’d never arrived. Someone, somewhere was snacking on my son’s sugar mice.
But then, after I’d completely given up hope, a box arrived.
A box from England!
A box of four, lovely, pink and white, adorable, sugar mice!
(You knew there was going to be an “except,” right?)
The box, which had clearly been hanging out in customs for OVER A MONTH was unsealed. The mice inside, since Amy and her less than year-old-baby had scrambled to buy the mice and ship them, were in your typical sweet-shop paper bag. Also unsealed.
And I thought about that box being unsealed by someone reading the customs tag and saying, “Hmm…what’s a sugar mouse? Let me take a look? Let me play mouse chase with them! Look! I can juggle!” and I could NOT let Child A eat those mice.
Sugarmouseless universe: 2
Mom desperate for hugs from her teenaged son: 0
But, I wanted him to know that I’d tried, so I showed him the box of mice and asked him to forgive me for not letting him eat them.
That night at dinner we discussed the tragedy of the inedible sugar mice. Himself and Child B looked at me and said, “Are you KIDDING? You’re not going to let him EAT THEM?”
I reviewed the juggled-by-leprosy-carrying-customs-agent scenario with them.
They were stymied only momentarily.
“We could rinse them off,” suggested the girl child.
“We could dip them in boiling water, really fast,” said Child B.
“We could soak them in brandy,” said Himself.
We all turned to start at him. “Who,” I asked, “do you then plan on allowing to eat the pickled mice?”
“It was just a suggestion.”
“We could flambé the mice,” I mused.
“Hey!” cried Child A, clearly alarmed by the idea of putting his mice to the match.
“But why not??” asked three other voices.
“I was kidding!” I said.
“But why wouldn’t that work??” asked everyone but Child A.
I thought about it. If we bruléed the mice like you’d brulée a crême then, conceivably, any cooties would be well destroyed.
“Ok,” I said, “but only if it’s okay with Child A. They’re his mice.”
We all turned to Child A. I could see desire to eat his treats warring with the idea of burning his mice at the stake.
So we traipsed into the kitchen and lit the mini-blowtorch. We removed the little string tail and commenced to roast the rodent. Melt the mouse. We scorched those little buggers until….until…
Let’s just leave that part to the imagination. There’s no need to explore the gory details of edible vermin charring.
And according to the boy, they were delicious.