Everything I learned from “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” is dead wrong. Let’s just say that if you read a kid a picture book, then they might absorb toxic information that permanently warps their worldview.
Here are the false ideologies from IYGAMAC that I have struggled to unlearn over the past few decades:
1. Talking to one mouse every now and then is socially acceptable.
If you begin talking to one mouse, then you need to form sincere bonds with its extensive network of rodent relatives. It’s only polite. That way when your mouse friend is detailing Uncle Joe’s most recent identity theft scare, your understanding nod will actually mean something. As much as you would love to invest in a new species of friend, your human social life is already overwhelming—you can’t exactly commit to keeping up with the rodent world at large.
2. Feeding a mouse once will not result in any short or long term consequences.
If you start handing out cookies to the mouse, then you’re going to need enough baked goods to provide for the other parasitic creatures in your house. While the pests continue to flock en masse, resources like chocolate chip cookies remain precious and limited. Ultimately, it’s best to refrain from handing out freebies that you can’t offer to everyone.
3. Clothing a mouse is uncomplicated.
If you bother to create rodent-sized overalls, then you need to provide a shirt. Honestly, you put in the hours it took to sew tiny overalls (where did you possibly find clasps that size?), so finish the job. When you anthropomorphize a mouse, you don’t get to pick and choose which societal rules it follows. No shirt, no shoes, no service. (Also add shoes to the list of required accessories.)
4. Expecting anatomically-impossible feats from a mouse is harmless fun.
If you believe that a single mouse can clean a floor or create a masterpiece with human-sized tools, then you need a reality check. Mice, biologically and obviously, cannot hold brooms or crayons. A human being or team of super mice helped the little guy in the story complete those feats. Don’t expect the world from just one mouse: it’s simply not fair.
5. Perpetuating a mouse’s entitlement complex is a non-issue.
If a mouse continues to ask for different things because nothing satiates its alarmingly-unquenchable thirst for more, then you need to get out of there fast. Acting as a “good friend”, “perceptive host”, or “unpaid intern” in this case perpetuates an entitlement cycle that will exhaust you and permanently damage the mouse’s psyche. If you received every cookie you ever asked for, can you imagine the skewed expectations you would have for life in general?