This morning, the boys in the backseat of the minivan turned their conversational prowess to the subject of rats.
“I heard,” said the redhaired boy with an air of both authority and gravitas, “that if they are hungry enough, they will eat your face.” He let that sink in. “Your face,” he added, for emphasis.
“I heard,” my son said, “that they ate everyone on a pirate ship. Like a swarm of rats. Are there swarms of rats? I don’t know what you call a lot of rats. But they ate everyone. Pirates. Real pirates. And then they swam. ACROSS! The OCEAN! And found another pirate ship. And they ate them too. Real pirates. And I read that in a book. So it’s true.”
“Not everything in books is true,” I piped in. I don’t think they heard me.
“I heard,” said one of the blondes, “that a bunch of rats? One time? Swam all the way? To Antarctica? And they ate a penguin. Or maybe it was a penguin. Maybe it was a leopard seal. Are there leopard seals in Antarctica?”
“They couldn’t eat a leopard seal,” my son Leo said. “That is insane. Besides. Leopard seals have leo in them. So. Maybe it was a killer whale. Could rats eat a killer whale?”
“They’re called orcas,” the redhaired boy said.
“Your called orcas,” said one of the blondes.
“Your mom is called orcas,” said – oh god. One of them. I couldn’t tell which. In any case, I decided it was time to intervene.
“Rats are gross,” I pronounced. Because it is true.
“Well . . . ” Leo equivocated.
“There is no well. Rats are gross. They sleep on their poop and lounge in their pee. Their teeth are yellow and their feet look like aliens and their tails are too gross to be allowed. They are sneaky and evil and would eat us all if they felt like it, but they don’t have to feel like it because most of the time we are just garbage cans with legs and they get enough food from our stupid trash. Also? They eat trash. Gross.”
I might have strong feelings about rats. They may or may not haunt my dreams.
“They’re not, like, the grossest,” one of the blondes – a boy named Ozzy – said.
“Oh yes they are,” I said. there is nothing grosser.
“Well,” Oz said. “I am way grosser than rats.”
“My darling boy,” I said. “You are not anywhere near as gross as a single rat, much less a nest of rats. You are not even in the same league.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” said Oz.
I pulled the car in front of the school and the kids started tumbling out of the minivan.
“It isn’t a challenge, dear. It’s just a fact. When it comes to rats -”
“Well,” he said as he hopped out of the car. He turned to me and bowed with a flourish. “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!”
“No. It’s just like -”
And the mob of miscreants from the barnhill minivan all started rubbing their hands and cackling with glee.
And I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to their mothers in advance. I have no idea what’s in store, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be gross. Possibly grosser than rats.
I have been incredibly delinquent in blogging lately, and it’s silly of me, because THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING! Good Things! Exciting Things! And I have much to say in the very near future. And I need to be blogging more regularly, because the fact is, it’s super fun.
I hope all of you have been well, and that your projects are going swimmingly and your families are healthy and your work is fulfilling and you are all on tracks for winning Nobel Prizes in Being Awesome. Smooches to all!