If you give a mouse a cookie…

August 21, 2006 at 10:37 pm Leave a comment

10743540.gif“If you give a mouse a cookie,” begins Laura Joffe Numeroff’s endearing children’s story, “he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.”

It’s a classic tale about perpetually unsatisfied needs: Once the mouse gets some milk, he needs a straw to drink it; once he gets a straw, he needs a napkin. After that he needs a mirror to check for a milk moustache, and then some scissors to trim his hair. By then, he’s sleepy and needs a comfy box to take a nap. But before he can go to sleep he needs a story read to him.

The pictures in the storybook get him so excited that next he needs some paper to draw his own picture, and then some tape to hang his completed artwork on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator reminds the mouse he’s thirsty, and so he needs…a glass of milk.

“And chances are if he asks for a glass of milk,” the story ends, “he’s going to want a cookie to go with it.”


The thing that irritates me about this story is that the mouse is always so worried about the next thing he needs that he never quite enjoys what he currently has in his hands. I mean, he’s still got cookie crumbs on his plate when he’s already on to the next activity. And by the time he has barely gotten snuggled down in his cozy bed for a snooze, he gets caught up by the desire to color and misses his nap altogether.

Not only are the mouse’s needs never-ending, but even the needs that are met don’t provide any lasting satisfaction.


One of my favorite vocabulary words from my first semester of Latin study is the word satis. It means “enough,” or “sufficient.” This word is obviously not something the mouse understands, and it’s frankly not one I do too well with myself. I tend to view satis as something “out there,” something yet to come. But I think both the mouse and myself need to understand that satis is not something that we get in the future; satis is not something to be reached for. In fact, if I keep looking for what I will get next, I can’t savor what I have right now.

If I have a cookie, I don’t need milk. I have a cookie. And for the moment, that is satis.


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profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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