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The Logic of Mr. Rat

The Logic of Mr. Rat published on

Despite his frequently inappropriate verbiage, Mr. Rat is very smart. He notices patterns.

Today, one of the exchanges we were practicing was “How’s the weather?” “It’s sunny/rainy/snowy/etc.” There was a worksheet illustration in which a boy was calling his friends in various places asking them about the weather.

“Wait, wait,” he complained. “He calls these people on the phone and they only talk about the weather? What’s with this kid?! And it’s sunny there, and it’s rainy there, and she’s got a snowman there! Where does they live that it’s sunny and snowy both?!”

This question had not occurred to me. I considered it, and told him that the boy was Australian and the girl with the snowman was his friend in America – it’s winter in America when it’s summer in Australia, you know, Mr. Rat. This was all in (very simple) English, and he understood it immediately, which should give you an idea of how sharp he is – he not only understood what I was saying, but was able to connect it to what he’d learned in school about the northern in southern hemispheres. The second part sounds simple, but most kids take a couple seconds to fit the pieces together if something they learned in one context pops up in another.

He grumpily accepted my explanation and finished the worksheet, but I was a little disappointed that he didn’t demand that I account for the time change.

Sometimes, however, his pattern-detection abilities lead him in… unexpected directions. Another exchange we were practicing was, “Where’s [someone]?” “She’s in the [classroom/music room/bedroom].” I asked him “Where’s Santa Claus?” and held up the card for “bathroom.”

“Santa?! Santa?! What’s Santa doing in the bathroom?!”

“I don’t know, Mr. Rat. It’s a mystery.”

“No! Don’t put Santa in the bathroom! It’s gross! I don’t want to go into the bathroom and find a present there! It would be too weird. It’s like, it’s probably got poop in it, you know?”

This idea killed me for about sixty seconds. He said, “What!? What!? You’re the one who put Santa in the bathroom!”

As he was leaving I pointed him out to the manager. “He was saying gross things again,” I said portentously.

“What? What did you say?” asked the manager warily. (He dislikes it when I talk to him in front of the students. Thus I do so frequently.)

“She made this sentence about poop presents in the bathroom!” he explained seriously, gesturing threateningly at me with his slipper. “It’s her fault!”

This whole train of thought was clearly perfectly natural to Mr. Rat. He found it incomprehensible that I did not see the logical outcome of Santa being in the bathroom.

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