Saving the grandma-saurus.
By Sue Langenberg
There was a time when I could read about cute little rabbits and ducks in a row to my grandson. And he would point and appreciate every utterance of mine, whether a soprano imitation of Mother Hubbard with her empty cupboard or a tenor rendition of the Big Bad Wolf.
I felt clever and cultured, sure that he would remember how his grandmother educated him to be refined in every way. He would recall with great detail, I thought, his classical experience at the symphony and moments of exhilaration at children’s theatre, not to mention Mother Hubbard and her plight.
But in a matter of what seemed no time at all, he grew from Mother Goose to second grade sophistication. His taste for monsters and dinosaurs became prevalent. Not just any old earth-roaming creatures, but ones that had precise bone structure and exact eating habits.
His personal dinosaurs dine heavily upon younger brothers that bother him and green vegetables that he tries to sneak the dog under the table. Their favorite cuisine happens to be an errant pea camouflaged somewhere in the Mac ‘n Cheese. He hasn’t quite justified how the rows of teeth digest various siblings or small peas, but he’ll figure that out in his own research which, of course, excludes any suggestions from Mother Goose or boring grandmothers.
He now reads me bedtime stories about pathetic grandma-saurs and various parental-saurs that know nothing about exactly when the earth declared them extinct. “See, they had long faces – grandma, are you still awake?”
I faded with, “mm-hmm” several times and finally fell asleep to the pages flipping past the Age of Fossil Grandmothers and the Jurassic Parents Age. He gave up on me. It is clear that I now need an advanced degree in Paleontology to understand his bedtime stories.
I am beginning to think that each generation declares the last generation extinct somewhere between kindergarten and first grade. I remember thinking that my grandmother must have something wrong with her if she couldn’t understand why I insisted that I could fly a plane and reach out and touch the sky. She always had that look in her eyes that somewhere along the line, she had lost me forever.
But I just went on about my way, creating my own world about skies that act like blue ceilings and grandmothers that didn’t know anything.
What I happened to know about the subject of dinosaurs is that the bones were unheard of before some 100 years ago.
“Grandma! How could you not know about monsters under your feet?” He is still sorting that one out, but I stand my ground about dinosaurs being unknown until relatively recent history, though I think I felt the ground shake the other day shopping for fresh vegetables.
I saw the first signs of my own extinction when he asked me to define a word found in a computer game. I flipped through the handy Webster’s Dictionary and related that it meant something like a calm and peaceful setting in the middle of a forest. “Yeah, you mean a fierce battle with the forest-saurus!” is what he thought he heard. And he karate-chopped the air a few slices with animated armpit noises between.
No, “sweet birds chirping,” I reiterated. “Ok, fire-breathing and roars,” he countered. And the computer game went on with enemies dressed in green vegetable costumes and extinct grandma-saurs holding a dictionary.
My own grandmother would thoroughly approve that I have become extinct. It’s a rite of passage with each generation. Right now, however, I am just fighting for Mother Goose rights and the knowledge that I might know something.