Myrtle Mouse lived on the top floor of a long tall house on Myrtle Street. Was she called Myrtle because of the street she lived on, or was the street she lived on named after her? Nobody knew the answer to that question but Myrtle and she wasn’t telling, she just got on with her business and left people guessing.
Myrtle Mouse was a little mouse. She was neat as a pin and liked to keep everything tidy. In the daytime when the humans were moving about she was tucked up in her bed, but at night when the humans were sleeping, Mrtyle Mouse went about the house humming quietly and doing her work. ‘This goes here‘ she would sing to herself and ‘that goes there‘ and quick as a flash all the little pieces of bread and the tiny bits of cheese which were dropped by the grown ups and the children in the day, were tidied away. Some were nibbled up daintily and some put away in the cupboards for later. Myrtle kept a clean and tidy house and a well stocked cupboard and her friends and her family all knew that visiting Myrtle was always a pleasure.
One night as Myrtle Mouse tied up her apron and picked up her broom, she heard a snuffling noise from upstairs. ‘Mmmm’ thought Myrtle Mouse, the little ones must be here. The little ones, was her name for the children who lived in the house for part of the time. Myrtle knew that when the little ones were here, the routines were slightly different and her work was always a little bit harder. This was because for part of the time the humans in the house were just the grown ups and they didn’t drop so much food. When the little ones were here at Myrtle Street however, there was always so much to do. Myrtle Mouse knew that her cupboards would never groan with so much food,, as when the little ones were here.
The snuffling noise got louder and Myrtle Mouse heard a little whimper coming down the stairs. The rest of the house was quiet and so Myrtle Mouse decided to check on the little one to make sure he or she, (she didn’t know which it would be), was ok. Up the stairs she went in her little red checked apron and under the door frame and into the room.
The little whimpering one was Betty, the little girl who lived at Myrtle Street for some of the time. ‘Hello Betty‘, said Myrtle Mouse, ‘I heard you whimpering and came to see if you are ok.’ Betty the little one looked at Myrtle but not in surprise because she knew that Myrtle Mouse lived in the house all of the time and sometimes, when the grown ups were not looking, Myrtle and Betty would wave to each other. ‘Oh Myrtle Mouse‘ said Betty, ‘I am sorry if I disturbed you.’ ‘You didn’t disturb me Betty‘ said Myrtle Mouse, ‘now tell me, what is the problem?’
Betty gazed at Myrtle Mouse. ‘Don’t tell daddy will you‘, she sobbed in her bed. ‘Of course I won’t, if you don’t want me to ‘ said Myrtle Mouse, ‘but what can it be that you can’t tell your daddy?’
‘I miss my mommy‘ said Betty and howled a little louder. ‘Sometimes in the night I just miss her. I know that my daddy loves me and I don’t want to make him sad by telling him that I miss mommy, but I do, sometimes I do just miss her.’
Myrtle Mouse hopped up onto the bed and patted Betty’s arm. ‘Of course you miss your mommy’ she said, ‘all children miss their mommy sometimes.’ Betty stopped crying and looked at Myrtle Mouse who smiled at her kindly. ‘And you don’t need to worry that your daddy will be upset if you miss your mommy you know’, daddy knows that you miss mommy and mommy knows that you will miss your daddy sometimes too.‘
Betty looked at Myrtle Mouse, ‘do you really think he knows‘ she said. ‘And do you think he really doesn’t mind if I miss mommy?‘
‘Of course he doesn’t mind’ said Myrtle Mouse, ‘he is your daddy and the job of being a mommy or a daddy is to know how little children feel and to not mind at all but to help you to feel better.’ Myrtle Mouse patted Betty’s arm again and hopped onto the floor, ‘wait there,’ she said, ‘I’ve got something that will make you feel better.’
Myrtle Mouse came back with a big chunk of chocolate which she had been saving for a special occasion. Although the chunk of chocolate was nearly as big as Myrtle, she managed to heave it onto the bed for Betty. ‘There‘ said Myrtle Mouse, ‘chocolate always cheers up little ones’.
Betty giggled, because although it was naughty to eat chocolate in the middle of the night, somehow Myrtle Mouse made it seem alright. ‘Thank you Myrtle Mouse‘ said Betty, ‘I feel better now.’ ‘I’m glad’ said Myrtle Mouse, ‘there is no need to be sad. In the morning you must tell daddy that you sometimes miss mommy and everything will be alright. Little ones need to be looked after by the grown ups and not the other way around. And sometimes when grown ups are not there to listen, Myrtle Mouse will be able to hear you. Snuggle down now and sleep little one, morning will come soon and all will be well.’
Betty wriggled down into her bed and closed her eyes and Myrtle Mouse tidied up the duvet and turned off the light. ‘Goodnight little one‘ she whispered and tied her apron a little bit tighter, slipped under the door and went off to tidy the house.
Following on from the Dandlebear Stories which will shortly be available to buy for children (see below for a sample of the books, which are illustrated by my daughter, Myrtle Mouse is another series of stories inspired by our stay on Myrtle Street in Boston MA, this week, where a tiny little mouse kept us company during our stay! All children who live in two homes need their parents to understand their emotional and psychological experiences, telling children stories which name their feelings, helps to deepen children’s sense of safety and enables them to express the whole range of feelings which come with the experience of moving back and forth between parents. One of my enduring interests is helping children to make transitions safely between their parents. Myrtle Mouse will be another series to help parents to help their children.