“Gramma, why do you have so many rats in your house?” Barrett’s voice echoed through the crowded halls of Amenity Hall, the prestigious private school he attended.
I froze, horrified, as every perfectly coiffed head and couture covered body in the kindergarten building turned and stared.
“Field mice. They’re field mice.” I responded in a half whisper.
Every mouth in the place dropped.
Humiliated, I grabbed Barrett’s innocent, little six-year-old hand and said, “When you live on a ranch, they just come with the territory,” in a really loud voice. Trying to defend myself.
“Barrett,” a cute curly-headed, little blond said, “your Grandma has mice at her house?”
And I swear, the woman next to me nearly fainted.
“Yes.” Barrett said, swelling up a notch. “A bunch. Sometimes we go out into the pasture and find a mouse hole and we poke a stick in it and a mouse runs out the other side. It’s so cool. You want to come see ‘em?”
“Oh,” the little girl gasped. “Could I.”
Then, she swung around, grabbed her Mother’s arm and begged. “Can I go play at Barrett’s? Please Mom. Please. I want to see the rats.”
“Ahhh…” The mom, her face twisted in horror, glanced at me. “Well…. Ahhh…. We’re pretty busy today honey… and uhmmmm….”
I heard someone snicker.
My mortification grew.
A boy from Barrett’s class dragged his backpack over and said, “Last week, Barrett’s dog got sprayed by a skunk.”
The little girls eyes widened. “That’s so cool.”
“Yea.” Barrett voice rose to a frenzied high. “And it stunk real bad.”
“That’s really, really cool.” Another child said.
A couple of kids elbowed their way in… to gush.
“You are so lucky.” The kid looked awe struck.
“Yea, and I bet you have horses too.” Another chimed in.
“And cows.” Barrett swelled. “They poop everywhere.”
“Yea,” the boy with the backpack almost squealed. “I know. I saw.”
“I wish my Grandma had a place with skunks and mice.” The little girl dragged the sentence out, until it became a long whine.
“Me too.” The little boy pulled the backpack onto his shoulder. “But we live in a stupid house in the city. It doesn’t have mice or anything cool. My dad won’t even let me have a dog.”
Barrett put a comforting hand on the boys shoulder. “Don’t worry. I’ll invite you out sometime and you can play with my dogs.”
“You have more than one?” The little boy’s jaw dropped.
“I’ve got two.” Barrett swelled with pride.
“Wow! That must be so cool.”
“Yep,” Barrett said. Then, he slipped his hand into mine, looked up and grinned at me. “Are you ready to go to the ranch now Gramma?”
“Yes, Honey,” I said, feeling very proud. “I am.”