I pick Five up from the bus stop, and wait as he kicks all the frozen snow mounds, checking for signs of melting. I ask how his day was, and he says, "Great. But there's a rodent problem."
"You have a rodent problem at school?" I ask, somewhat horrified.
"No. Chinchillas are endangered."
"Oh. I didn't know that. It's probably because they were hunted for their fur."
"Oh. Well," he continues, "there's only one population group remaining, and after they die, that's it for the chinchillas. So, I'm going to re-populate the chinchillas. I'm going to go to PetSmart and buy one at a time. They're, like, 153 dollars, and I'm going to get a mom and a dad, and then, boom boom, pow, they'll have babies, and I'm going to distribute them to North America and Africa."
"Are they native to Africa?"
"No! But I'm going to put them there anyway, and after I solve the chinchilla problem, I'm moving on to the pandas. Whaddya say, Mom, are you with me?"
"I don't know that I can sign up to raise chinchillas, Five. They're kind of mean."
"But they're so cute!" he says, climbing out of the van. "I think you should help me. I don't think you want me to be sad about the extinct chinchillas, do you, Mom?" he yells, as I enter the house.
"Can I have a butter sandwich?" he asks, following me into the kitchen. "Okay, because after the chinchillas and the pandas, I'm going to work on the American crocodiles."
"Are crocodiles endangered?"
"Yes, the American ones are!"
"I'm not raising crocodiles."
"Hey," he says, looking outside at the many trees in the backyard, "do you think chinchillas like acorns? I need two knives full of butter, Mom, on both sides of the bread."
"Yes. I know. Now, cut in half, or whole?"
He sits and eats his butter sandwich, because a conservationist needs a steady diet of carbs and fat. At least it's whole wheat bread.
"Hey, Four!" he yells, getting up from the table. "Do you want to help me with my rodent problem?"
I think he needs to revise his sales pitch.