Presenting Barry Mouse and Mary Mouse

A few weeks ago, I visited my parents and stumbled across a short story I wrote in the seventh grade. Behold, “The Mice,” complete with illustration:

One day, two mice, Barry Mouse and Mary Mouse, looked out their home in the wall and saw a great, big piece of cheese.
“That cheese is as good as mine!” Barry Mouse exclaimed. “I have wonderful reflexes, and I’m a natural athlete!”
“Not so fast,” Mary Mouse interjected. “Maybe I could get the cheese before you.”
“Yeah, right,” Barry Mouse said sarcastically. “You’re just a girl! How could you reach it before I? I, the magnificent; I, the strong; I, the superior athlete. That piece of cheese is going to taste so good! It’ll be simply delicious! And why should I share any with you? I’ll get it myself without any help from anybody…”
Mary Mouse was sitting there, eating the piece of cheese she had stolen while Barry Mouse was going on and on about himself. Popping the last piece of cheese into her mouth, she grinned at him, “You were saying?”
Moral 1 – Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
Moral 2 – Never underestimate the power of a female!

I had all the expected reactions after reading this story. I laughed, I sighed, I remembered fondly my childhood days. Then, I showed the story to my stepmom and my sister. As I waited for them to read it, I had another reaction that completely surprised me. A rush of protectiveness washed over me, and I felt fiercely defensive of the little girl who had written this story. One harsh word from the audience, and I would be ready to fight tooth and nail to defend this girl, to shield her from the kind of remark that tears down the spirit before it has the chance to solidify.

This didn’t happen, of course. My mom and sister laughed, and then we all went about our days.

But my reaction stayed with me. And puzzled me. I am not unfamiliar with this all-encompassing need to protect. I have felt it with my sister, who is 12 years younger than me. And now that I’m a mother, this emotion is a part of my daily existence.

But I have never felt it about myself. Why not? I’m not sure. I know I can’t go back in time and protect the 12 year-old girl, but isn’t there a writer inside me who is just as vulnerable, just as needy, just as deserving of my protection? Yet, instead of nurturing her, I have said terrible things to her over the years. Worse, I have believed the detractors who have doubted her dreams.

Would I have accepted these judgments so easily if they had been aimed at my children? Of course not. I would have been spitting mad. While I am slowly exposing them to the realities of life, there are some lessons I hope my children never learn. You can’t do it. You are not talented enough. You are not good enough.

As writers, I think we all struggle to unlearn these lessons, however they came to be taught. I can’t change the past, but I can alter my attitude going forward. The next time I find myself sliding back into these negative refrains, I will think of “The Mice” and remember that I, too, am deserving of my own protection.

Who knew a childhood story could have so much impact? So dig up your old stories and share them with me! I would love to read the words of so much budding talent. I promise, there will only be shared laughter and smiles and not a judgmental word in sight!

13 thoughts on “Presenting Barry Mouse and Mary Mouse

  1. This is fantastic! I love it! Go Mary Mouse – I’m so happy she got the best of that braggart Barry! 😉

      1. Thanks Avery and Kerri!
        I was pretty amused at my notions of female empowerment at the age of 12!

  2. Love your story Pintip! I am imagining Mary stating those morals with chubby cheese-filled cheeks!

    The first book I ever made was a choose your own adventure type, 7 pages long, titled “The Jungle.” I was ten.

    Page 1:
    You are an animal doctor. Then you go for a cruise on a boat. The boat gets caught in a storm.
    You land on this strange island in the jungle. All the other people are scared. They go back on
    the boat. The boat sank way down below.
    (Here I inserted illustrations of a tree covered hill, tornado, rain cloud & rain, and a curly blonde girl standing in a boat on the water.)
    You have a choice: if you try to turn back home turn to Pg. 2. If you decide to go in the jungle – turn to Pg. 3.

    Page 2: You try to go home. The sky is dark. You go to the boat store to buy a boat. You grab your money out of your pocket.
    The boat you want costs $50. You only have $30. So you go to the dock to buy a canoe. All of a sudden a storm starts up.
    (Here I inserted an illustration of a dark haired person paddling a canoe with rain clouds, rain & lightning all around.)
    If you continue with your journey turn to Pg. 4. If you decide to try for a better boat turn to Pg 5.

    Page 3: You walk through the jungle. It is dark, very dark. You get your shot out just incase something happens. You see a snake
    in the tree. So you run away. Later that night you are afraid that a shot isn’t good enough. You can either get a sword or
    stick with the shot.
    (Here I inserted an illustration of a dark haired person smiling with a large hypo needle squirting pink fluid.)
    If you decide to stick with the shot turn to Pg 6. If you get a sword turn to Pg.7

    1. Carlene,
      This is awesome! Thanks so much for posting it. I love the “shot”! I was thinking shotgun at first, but of course it makes total sense that you meant needle! I will have to read the entire “novel” sometime. 🙂

  3. I love this story and your message for the post! Clearly you have always had a gift for story telling:) I’m glad that you are becoming protective of your gift as a writer as well. I know that you can do this and it’s important that you know it too!

    1. Ha, ha. Thanks Lana! Mary Mouse would appreciate that you consider her tale a real “story”!

  4. Pintip,
    A story I remember writing when I was younger was completely self-serving. I knew the story would be read in front of the class, so I wrote a “fictional” story about how a new friend messed up my friendship with someone else and how that friend wasn’t a true friend but the other person (that would be me) was the bestest bestest friend in the whole widest world. I think I changed the names a bit, but it was pretty obvious to everyone in the class who was actually in that friendship triangle and it was equally as obvious that I didn’t want it to be a flippin’ triangle. 🙂
    It goes to show that when you’re younger and hurting, words can really help to alleviate the pain of growing up.
    FYI, that friend? He ended up becoming a minister and performed my wedding ceremony. His mom jokes that Billy finally married me. BTW, we never dated or anything. He was just my best friend.

  5. Kimberly,
    What a cute story! And so brave of you to write it, knowing that it would be read out loud. I never would have been able to do that, but ahh…the drama of a friendship triangle. So much pain to go through because a friend might like another friend more! Thanks for sharing — it brings back lots of bittersweet memories of growing up.

  6. You are so right! We tend to listen to those who try to be-little us instead of trying to fight for what we feel in our hearts and put into our art. My first story I consider a true work of art, was in 7th grade. My teacher had told me about a contest for a Halloween Story to win a $50 Savings Bond and two tickets to the Jaycee’s Haunted House.
    My story was macabre (think E.A.Poe) and a bit Stephen King, and definately not a Happy Ending as some of the other stories were. It was probably over the edge for a 12/13 year old but it won first place and I still have it in one of my scrapbooks.
    I overheard someone mention having read the article in the paper (the school secretary) and they commented on how dark and moody it was for a young girl to write. I questioned my sanity for awhile but then went on to read V.C. Andrews, Edgar A. Poe, Sir Conan-Doyle, Stephen King and realized if they were best seller and classic authors with their unique twists, I may be too.

    1. Wow, Loni! Sounds a bit more sophisticated than my Barry Mouse and Mary Mouse. I would love to read it sometime!

      1. PinTip,
        Actually I loved your story because it was a perfect moral and a great read (I loved the pictures too). I always thought my stories (even ones I wrote as a youngster were weird). I had English teachers who had us make up stories about inanimite objects and how they would feel if they had life. After awhile, I just got silly. 🙂

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