Ask Dr. Babooner

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?

Concerned Mom

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?

43 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Babooner”

  1. CM,
    If you are super worried, slip into Delilah’s room while she’s at school. Bring your scissors and give Samsom a haircut. His personality and skills will change and he will lose his hold over your daughter.
    Dr B


  2. Good morning to all. Concerned Mom, don’t you know that usually the best way to deal with unusual behavior like this is to pretend to ignore it. Anything you do will probably just increase your daughters belief that the mouse is helping her with her studies.

    Notice I said you should pretend to ignore this and not really ignore it. How do we know that the mouse isn’t the product of some strange experiment as you mentioned? Keep an eye on that mouse. In the brave new world of geneticly modified organism any thing is possible. Maybe you should bring in Dr. Larry Kyle to look at the mouse


  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Dear CM: Your daughter is 8 years old and she sounds as if she has a wonderful imagination. Why do anything at all with this? She is learning something whether the teacher is a mouse or a mouse is a teacher. Let her have fun with this. Write and draw a book with her about her Magic Mouse! Run with this-or have your daughter run with the mice and get in shape. Write a book, “Little Girls Who Run With Mice.” It’ll surely be a Best Seller.

    But really. Is this a problem? Much Ado About Nothing? to quote a certain somebody whose birthday was yesterday.


  4. This is a reply to Jacque in the wrong place due to my computer problems. Jacque, I think you are right about this not being a problem. I failed to see that Delilah is only having fun pretending that the mouse has unusual powers. Still, I think it wouldn’t hurt to get an opinion from Dr. Larry Kyle.


  5. Morning all – so sorry I missed yesterday. The Shakespeare quote that I probably use the most is Hamlet’s line to Horatio “more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. But living in a cold climate, I’m also very fond of “blow, blow thou winter wind”.

    OK, back to today. I think that Samson must be one of those escapees from NIMH who are quite cleaver!


  6. CM, what you need to worry about is the area of the country that mouse came from. It may be a smart mouse, but what if it hails from west of the Missouri River. THAT MOUSE COULD KILL YOU ALL! It could harbor Hanta Virus. Feeling cold? Are you developing a cough, high fever, chills, difficulty breathing? If I were you I would find a nice hungry cat or python to dispatch the little devil and then run to the nearest emergency room for some blood tests.


  7. I had a succession of mice when I was in high school. All black & white, all named Omar (I had a serious crush on Omar Shariff after Lawrence of Arabia came out.) None of them were as smart as Samson, but they were all smarter than my Irish Setter. She would sit for hours (if I let her) with her nose right up again the bars of the little cage. Omar would eventually come over and tap her nose and she would practically jump out of her skin. They all somehow knew that they were safe from her.


      1. I would probably go w/ some more interesting (& more obscure) names these days. When the teenager came home with a beta fighting fish after the holidays, I suggested Imperious or Caesarium for names. She looked at me like I had frogs coming out of my orifices. Then I tried some more easily recognizable fighting names – Lancelot, Galahad, Gawain. No go. Then I tried more current – Sugar Ray or Dempsey. Nope.. She suggested a television character; fish is now named Sheldon.


  8. So long as it’s only one mouse, I think your daughter is fine. Let her have her fun with Mousie. Do not, under any circumstances, get a second mouse. Even if they appear to be the same gender (which could lead to constitutional amendments about same-gender mouse relationships), they will likely somehow not be same gender in short order you will have 50 mice. Keep one mouse, name it Stuart and let it play with boats (but perhaps not small motor cars).


  9. It might be good to check on the people who sold the mouse. Why are do they have a mouse from an experiment for sale? Are they part a plot of some kind?


  10. Slightly OT: I just discovered something new. The Prairie Home Companion has just released a CD called “Tom Keith, Sound Effects Man.” Look it up on the PHC “Pretty Good Goods” page. And notice that there is a special download available called “Our Greatest Bits” that includes 50 minutes of material featuring Tom and Dale Connelly working together on TLGMS.


    1. Steve, the disc is a hoot. I’ve heard it and Tom shines, as usual. The old Morning Show stuff is just that – the “Our Greatest Bits” cassette we released in the late ’90’s, digitized for today’s consumer. Unfortunately the more recent Morning Show stuff is loaded with music clips that were OK for broadcast but not cleared for commercial re-use. Too bad!


        1. I might still have mine, too – will look.
          Did they ever make available a recap of show at the Fitz honoring Jim Ed? I lost track of that…


  11. Nice article, Dale. I think anyone working in geriatrics in any form at any level knows the power of exercise to keep alert. But the babe up the tree: that seems to me to illustrate sort of the opposite. Isn’t it rather stupid to put yourself where she is standing? Is standing the word for what she is doing? I know, I should not analyze eye-candy.


      1. Not dense at all Beth-Ann. I’ll have to look up “ectopic”.
        Clyde is referring to the photo illustration that accompanies the New York Times article that this post is based on. You can see it here. I wondered the same thing Clyde did – what does this have to do with the story I’m reading? The woman appears to have exercised herself into a clumsy spot in the crook of a tree. Why?
        Now that “photo illustrations” are so common (and easy to create), we’ll read more stories that are accompanied by someone else’s puzzling interpretation of the heart of the matter.


        1. we have to cut a little slack he is used to writing some stuff and letting us go off iton la la land on our own. i like having him around but he is a babe to the blog. its ok dale. hang in there.


  12. Concerned Mom. At 8 years old, anything that can help her learn math is a keeper in my book. If you need a sitter for the mouse on Thursday evenings, I tutor a 3rd and 4th grader who could use help with their fractions. My homemade egg carton fraction lesson does not seem to be working.


  13. OT. Just got home with four bales of straw for my experiment with straw bale gardening (what a mess in the car). Unless you all stop me, I’ll update you as the experiment progresses!


  14. isnt it the movie where victor mature is the sampson who gets left out as a slave to work in the square grinding grain or something then his hair grows back and he pulls down the pillars and all the heathens are destroyed by a fair and angry god? cecil b wasnt it? if your daughter wants to temp the fates ok i guess but why not just roll with the punches. remember the guy who is talking to the psychiatris about his brother who thinks he is a chicken and the psychiatrist says why dont you talk to him about it and he replies we would but we need the eggs.
    why not be thankful for the voodoo coming through the mouse to your daughters brain and try to figure out how to keep it going after the novelty wears off. just rolll with it for crying out loud. life can be simple, if there is a mouse in the recipe so be it.


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