Wild Rats

It looks as though I’ve mentioned Wild Kratts in passing, though I’ve not let on that Jake is completely addicted.  For those of you not up on the many choices in cartoon viewing these days (and believe me, I certainly wasn’t just four short years ago), Wild Kratts is a cartoon on PBS about the Kratt brothers, Chris and Martin.  They seem to be some sort of fraternal version of Steve Erwin with a number of wildlife shows aimed at teaching kids about biology, zoology and ecology.  Chwis and Mawrt-in (as Nate calls them), begin the show as real men and then they jump and say “What if?!” which turns them into (much thinner) cartoon characters of themselves that can do just about anything.

The Wild Rats (as the bad guy, Zach Varmitech calls them) are supported by a team of two women engineers, Aviva and Koki, and some skater dude named Jimmy Z.  I’m not sure how we came across this show, but it has obliterated all other shows in Jake’s world.  Nate has to make desperate pleas for Tumi Zoomi (Team Umizoomi).  In most episodes, Aviva designs a new creature power suit which allows the wearer to gain the powers of whatever animal they are studying by physically touching the target creature and inserting some sort of CD-ROM into the chest.

For several months Jake was hell-bent on making his own creature power suit.  Almost every day he would tell me I needed to take him to a junk yard so he could get the supplies he needed.  I dodged that bullet by letting him know that Granddad is the only one who really knows where the junk yards are (or Santa Cruz flea market as the case may be).  Payback for giving the boys an endless supply of squirt guns?  Possibly…

Jacob has moved on from creature power suits, but every day I hear things like, “Mom, Mom.  Cowbirds are nest parasites.”  “Mom, Mom.  I think we need to go out in the woods and get piscina leaves and then mash them into a sticky paste and rub them on our arms.  That’s what orangutans do.  They make their own medicine.  Oh, but watch out for the dads.  They have the strength of five men.”  “Mom, Mom.  This is how a water-walking basilisk runs.”  “Baby caracals are so cute.”  “Tarsiers have eyes the size of grapefruits.”  “Dodos are my favorite extinct bird.”  “That fly must be a different species from the fly we caught yesterday.”  “You mean back when dinosaurs roamed the earth?”  He is an endless current of animals I’ve never heard of and facts and figures on extinct Tasmanian tigers and western spotted skunks and the difference between largemouth and smallmouth bass and it goes on and on and on.

One night a few weeks ago I got the following text message from Jacob’s teacher, Miss Amy: Tell Jakey I just knew an answer on Jeopardy because of him… it was a star-nosed mole!  He taught me that!

Speaking of Miss Amy, when we came home from Hawaii she told us she was so glad Jake was back because they have such interesting lunch conversations about how their brains work and science and discussions about animals.  She lamented about having to talk about princesses the whole time he was gone.

Over July fourth when we were in San Luis Obispo, just as we were headed to the car to drive home, we see a lady on the street trying to take a picture of a bird high up in a tree in front of the mission.  We stop and I look up to see what she’s looking at.  A hawk?  An owl?  Who knows…

“Mom, Mom.  That’s a peregrine falcon.  See it has a spotted chest.  A spotted chest.”

I’m convinced he just thinks it’s a peregrine falcon as that’s his favorite bird, given it’s the fastest animal on earth (thanks Wild Kratts).

And then I hear the lady say with expert confidence, “Yep.  That’s a peregrine falcon.”

Alex, I’ll take Princesses for $400.


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