“The playground’s closing! Time to go home!” the Park Ranger cries.
“What’s going on?”
“It’s getting dark. The rats are coming out.”
“They’ve got sharp teeth and we don’t want any kids trying to pet one.”
“Oh? They do that?” (Maybe Mr. Park Ranger just wants to lock up early.)
Then, I spot something scurry in the corner of my eye. I lean to look under a bench and – should I be surprised? – there’s a rat!
“They like to eat the leftover snacks. You know, Cheerios, and that sort of thing,” the park ranger tells me.
Is it really all that shocking? It’s Central Park – the playground is 400 feet from the subway. But I remember the many times my boys – as toddlers - put a fist-full of sand in their mouths. I think how my older son loves to log-roll across the sandbox and used to shove sand up his shorts. I remember the line from my son’s potty training book, “All animals eat, so all animals poop!”
How much rat poop have my children eaten? It is hard to say. I shouldn’t Google it. Stop me now. ”rat borne disease symptoms” Bubonic plague apparently starts like the flu.
After the rat episode, the playground snack has taken on a certain gravitas. Because I’m not just feeding my two sons. Every time we drop a nibble, we inadvertantly feed the rats. I keep a mental checklist.
- Nuts (Almonds, Cashews)
- Cheese (Manchego, Cheddar, Parmesan)
- Cut Fruit
- Cut Veg (Carrots, Cucumber, Bell Pepper)
- Rice Cakes, Crackers, Pretzels, the occasional Bakery Treat
This morning, Andy looked down at his snack and asked, “How big are the rat teeth?” Hmmm… ”I want to see a picture!”
Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks about them.