Of Dragons and Dinosaurs

We live near one of the most amazing places on earth, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. We’re at the Tyrrell almost every month. By the time Cinder was three, he could identify almost any dinosaur. Flora still thinks she might want to be a palaeontologist when she grows up. And here is Ender, who paid his first visit to the museum when he was six weeks old, and has spent the first three years of his life in a house full of dinosaur books, puzzles, and videos:

Ender to volunteer at Tyrrell Museum: “I like your dragons.”
Volunteer: “They’re dinosaurs.”
Ender: “I call them dragons, because that’s a cooler name. Where your dragons with wings?”
Volunteer: “Um… like the flying reptiles?”
Ender: “No, like my Lego dragon that blows fire.”
Volunteer: “Um… Would you like to hold some fossilized dino poop?”
Ender: “Yuck. No. I want to see real dragons, with wings. Blowing fire. Where are they?”

Albertosaurus and unidentified Ornithomimid at...

Ender, one year ago: A Bear By Any Other Name

Ender, two years ago: Matchmaking

This weekend I’m hopping here:

Growing scientists, or, why it rocks when kids love dinosaurs

Ender discovered dinosaurs a few months ago, and unlike revisiting potty training for the third time (yuck), revisiting dino-mania for the third time just really, really rocks. Regular trips to the amazing Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller are back on the family agenda. Our last trip had Cinder and Flora sharing a lot of “Remember when I was obsessed with dinosaur stories.” Here’s a few of my favourites, from when Cinder was six and Flora three-and-a-half.

On the couch, crawling out from under all the pillows and blankets:

Flora: Where am I?

Cinder: Congratulations! You made it through the mass-extinction!

Flora: But I don’t remember anything about it. Where are my mom and dad?

Cinder: Well, they’re all under the mud over there, see? They thought they were lucky because they survived the asteroid, but ah-ah―the mudslide got them.

Flora: So all my ancestors are dead?

Cinder: Everyone’s ancestors are dead. That’s what makes them ancestors. The important thing is you were born. And look, there are your cousins!

Flora: So some of my family survived!

Cinder: Don’t get comfortable yet―there may be more asteroids coming.

On the floor, playing with K’Nex:

Cinder: Here, Flora, build the Jeep so it can race with my dragster.

Flora: I don’t want to build a Jeep. (Flipping through instruction book.) Oooh! Look―a butterfly. It’s beautiful. Ooh! Stegosaurus. I’m going to make a stegosaurus.

Cinder: Make the Jeep, then we can race.

Flora: I want to make the stegosaurus, so he can play with me and be my friend.

Cinder: Why would you want to make a dinosaurs when you can make something with wheels? Look, see? It’s really cool.

Flora: I have an idea, Cinder―why don’t I make the stegosaurus, and you make two cars, and then my stegosaurus can watch you race? How about that?

Stegosaurus stenops, a stegosaur from the Late...

Back on the couch:

Flora: I forgot how I survived the mass extinction again.

Cinder: Stop asking that―I’ll tell you one more time. You were buried by some rocks during an earthquake. But you managed to crawl out. Now you have to search for food. It shouldn’t be too hard―because of the mass extinction, see?

From Life’s Archives, May 19, 2008, Mass Extinctions and Drag Races