I was walking into the barn and heard Pickles say, “Earnest, don’t show Mrs. Dunn.”
“What am I not supposed to see, Earnest?” I asked, catching them both off guard.
“I have Pickles’ first report card,” said Earnest, and he handed it to me. Pickles looked at the ground.
If you recall, Pickles was required by unanimous barnyard vote, and me, to attend Earnest’s Charm School, with the hopes it would teach her some manners, as well as literature and language.
“I got an “A” in Leaping Off Rocks!” Pickles said with pride.
“I see that,” I said. “But I do see some low marks. There’s a ‘C’ for Politeness, and a ‘D’ in Empathy,” I said.
Earnest chimed in, “She’s a smart little scamp! And she did improve greatly over the last few weeks in her cursive writing.”
“And every week, Earnest teaches me a new word,” said Pickles.
“Yesterday’s word was coddiwomple,” Earnest said.
“Can you use that in a sentence, Pickles?” I asked.
“It was a sunny day and The Goose coddiwompled through the fields,” Pickles said.
“It is a verb meaning to travel purposefully towards a vague destination,” Earnest explained.
The Goose waddled towards us, “I do not coddiwomple. I tend to have a planned destination.”
“I coddiwomple!” said Puddles.
“Me too!” said Pickles.
“Why is your grade in “Empathy” so low, Pickles?” I asked.
“Earnest says what I lack in empathy I make up in perseverance and sass,” Pickles said confidently.
Earnest the pig interjected, “Every day I recite a situation to Pickles, a situation she might find in real barnyard life, and I ask how she would react to it.”
“What types of situations?” I asked.
“Well, if two elder goats are standing in the door, blocking the way for Pickles to get outside, but there is a big bucket of cucumber peelings in a bucket she wants to get to, how would she handle it?”
“I love cucumber peelings!” said little Pickles. And Ollie, Hannah and Puddles and all the old goats chimed in, “Us too!”
“And how did you respond, Pickles?” I asked.
“I said I would do whatever I had to do to get to the cucumbers first, or Ollie or Puddles or someone else might get them,” Pickles said.
“Including pushing the two elders out of the way?” Earnest asked.
“Of course,” said Pickles. “I have to survive!”
“Mrs. Dunn, I have lots of work to do with her,” Earnest said. “But she has great spirit and her attendance is perfect.”
Later that day, I had just started nighttime chores when I heard Pickles call to me.
“Mrs. Dunn! Earnest taught me how to get everyone to line up! Now I can rush outside to a bucket of cucumber peelings and nobody will get shoved!”
I turned to look, and there was a tidy, orderly row of youngsters and elders.
Earnest the pig looked up at me and said, “I told you she was a smart little scamp.”