If you knew me when I was three or four years old, you know that I was into dinosaurs. I mean, like, really into them. I had five stuffed dinosaurs that I slept with every night. I had piles of books talking about them, and another bunch of them that I got from the library. It didn’t matter if I already knew everything the book had to tell me, I still had to read it. It became a yearly tradition in our family to drive to the Sloan Museum in Flint to see an annual exhibit filled with animatronic dinosaurs. The last time we went (maybe in 1992) they had to move the exhibit to a mall, because that year they had created a life-size Tyrannosaurus. That mamma was 25 ft. tall, so big that they actually had to remove part of the ceiling to fit it in.
It’s surprisingly difficult to be into dinosaurs as an adult, and not just because it makes you look like a three-year old. The tough part is that it’s really hard to find good books on prehistoric life for adults, or at least ones that aren’t basically textbooks. So my dinosaur fandom waned, mostly limited to watching Jurassic Park so many times that I memorized it. I’m not sure if I grew out of it, or if it just was dormant. But one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely hereditary. Because my three-year-old son has discovered how cool dinosaurs are, and I think it’s pretty much the only thing he talks about now.
This is a fulfillment of a dream for me, because I really wanted him to like dinosaurs. That’s how I wanted to decorate his room when we were getting ready for his birth, but we couldn’t find the right stuff and had to settle for a jungle theme. We did buy him a stuffed T-Rex at a “Build-A-Dinosaur” store before he was born, something we repeated with his little brother for his first birthday just a month or so ago. I remembered all of the joy dinosaurs brought me at that age, and I instinctively knew that he would love them.
I was right on the money, by the way. His favorite show now is not Yo Gabba Gabba or Dexter’s Laboratory. It’s Walking With Dinosaurs, the BBC miniseries that’s on Netflix. It’s a nature program with dinosaurs, complete with stuffy narration from Kenneth Branagh and late-90s CGI. But he loves it so much. He knows things about dinosaurs that I never even conceived of, such as the fact that velociraptors likely had feathers and that there’s basically no such thing as a brontosaurus. He knows crazy dinosaurs like postosuchus and rhabdodon. Did you know that there was a dinosaur called minmi? Also, he likes to play the dinosaur guessing game, where he describes what kind of dinosaur he is and makes us guess. He’s good at it too.
It’s wonderful not just to see him enjoy dinosaurs so much, but to learn a bunch myself. A lot of advances have been made in the field of paleontology since I was his age, and it’s surprising how much insight I can get from an episode of Dinosaur Train. I suspect that when I eventually let him watch Jurassic Park, we’ll have a grand old time of pointing out all of the scientific inaccuracies.