A Boy and His Dinosaur
By Dave Barry
We have been deeply into dinosaurs for some time now, with
many plastic dinosaurs around the house. Sometimes I think we have more plastic
dinosaurs than plastic robots, if you can imagine.
This is my sons doing. Robert got into dinosaurs when
he was about three, as many children do. Its a power thing: children like
the idea of creatures that were much bigger and stronger than mommies and
daddies. If a little boy is doing something bad, such as pouring apple juice
onto the television remote-control device, Mommy and Daddy can simply snatch
the boy up and carry him to his room. But they would not dare try this with
No, sir. Tyrannosaurs would glance down from a height of 20
feet, flick his tail, and Mommy or Daddy would sail through the wall leaving
cartoon-style Mommy-or Daddy-shaped holes. And tyrannosaurs would calmly go
back to pouring apple juice onto the remote-control device.
So Robert spends a lot of time being a dinosaur. I recall
the day we were at the beach and he was being a gorgosaurus, which, like
tyrannosaurus, is a major dinosaur, a big meat-eater. (Robert is almost always
carnivorous.) He was stomping around in the sand and along came an elderly
tourist couple, talking in German. They sat down near us. Robert watched
Tell them Im a gorgosaurus, he said.
You tell them, I said.
Gorgosauruses cant talk, Robert pointed
out, rolling his eyes. Sometimes he cant believe what an idiot his father
Anybody who has ever had a small child knows what happened
next. Using the powerful whining ability that Mother Nature gives to young
children to compensate for the fact that they have no other skills, Robert got
me to go over to this elderly foreign couple, point to my son, who was looking
as terrifying as a three-year-old can look lumbering around in a bathing suit
with a little red anchor on it, and say, Hes a
The Germans looked at me the way you would look at a person
you saw walking through a shopping mall with a vacant stare and a chain saw.
They said nothing.
Ha ha! I added, so they would see I was in fact
They continued to say nothing. You could tell this had never
happened to them in Germany.
Tell them Im a meat-eater, the gorgosaurus
Hes a meat-eater, I told the couple. They
got up and started to fold their towels.
Tell them I can eat more in ONE BITE than a mommy and
a daddy and a little boy could eat in TWO WHOLE MONTHS, urged the
gorgosaurus, this being one of the many dinosaur facts he got from the books we
read to him at bedtime. But by then the tourists were striding off, glancing
back at me and talking quietly to each other about which way they would run if
I came after them.
Ha ha! I called out after them reassuringly.
Gorgosaurus continued to stomp around, knocking over whole
cities. I had a heck of a time getting him to take a nap that day.
Sometimes when hes tired and wants to be cuddled,
Robert is a gentle plant-eating dinosaurbaby diplodocus. (Diplodocus
looked sort of like brontosaurus, only sleeker and cuter.) This one has lost
its mommy and daddy, and wrapped in its protective blanket, it understands
its going to live with us forever and ever. The blanket wriggles with
Lately at our house, we have become interested in what
finally happened to the dinosaurs. According to our bedtime books, all the
dinosaurs died quite suddenly about 65 million years ago, and nobody knows why.
Some scientists think the cause was a Death Comet that visits the earth from
time to time. Robert thinks this is great. A Death Comet! This is serious
power. A Death Comet would never have to brush its teeth. A Death Comet would
have pizza whenever it wanted.
Me, I get uneasy reading about the Death Comet. I dont
like to think about the dinosaurs disappearing. Its yet another reminder
that nothing lasts forever. Even a baby diplodocus has to grow up sometime.