My nanny children are obsessed. Dinosaurs are their livlihood. Everyday, immediately after they wake up, the very first thing they do is run to their toy bins and dig out their endless supply of plastic dinosaurs. When I finally get them dressed in their dinosaur t-shirts, they return immediately to the living room, where they engage in their daily routine of setting up a prehistoric park on the couches and the dining room table. After lunch, when I manage to drag them outside, they don their dinosaur hats and go on a dinosaur safari in the backyard or park. A fine madness, to be sure, dinosaurs are a very interesting subject, but the thing that startles me the most is how much a six and three year old can know about dinosaurs.
Before I began this job, my experience with dinosaurs was limited to a childhood viewing of The Land Before Time, and a few odd adventures in the prehistoric park at the Calgary Zoo- where we are usually more interested in climbing on the rocks and dinosaur statues. My only other encounter into the realm of dinosaurs is the dinosaur part of Fantasia, which I actually find depressing, cause I feel sorry for the Stegosaurus. Yet even with this limited experience, I considered myself to know a fair amount about dinosaurs. I mean, I could identify the type of dinosaur that was placed on my ankle in the form of a stick on tatoo at a Stampede breakfast. And I can spell the word, Pterodactyl. So when my nanny children first asked me if they could give me a "tour" of their dinosaur zoo, I had a rough idea of what I was in for. Or, so I thought.
"This is a Maiasauras, he is a plant eater, the average Maiasasuras was about twice as tall as a grown up." My nanny children prattle on. "How interesting," I think to myself. "I always called that kind of dinosaur - Ducky. I believe I had the jello mould of her."
"This is the raptor section." Announces my nanny child, " We have a Utahraptor, Velociraptor....." "There's more than one kind of raptor?!" I think in astonishment. Then again, the only type I know of are the Toronto variety.
"This is the Brachiosaurus, he eats plants, and his neck is as long as a person." "Land Before Time just called that variety 'long necks,' and I've called them that ever since. You mean there's an actual scientific name for them? Land Before Time LIED to me!"
Aha! A type of dinosaur I know. "This is a Triceratops." I say knowledgeably. (Again, my memories of Land Before Time kick in) To my astonishment, my nanny children burst into peals of laughter. "No, no silly." my nanny children sound as if this is the most ridiculous thing ever said. "This is a Styracosaurus. It has spikes around it's head instead of a circle." It's apparrent that this is the most obvious thing in the world to these two little boys.
They say you learn something new everyday. Most of the time what I learn is obvious, as I am in school. This summer I was expecting to learn such things as the importance of a balanced diet and discpline. Instead, I'm learning the difference between a Parasaurolophus and a Pachycephalosaurus.