Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pooh's Bedtime Lesson

Night before last, Pooh chose My Visit to the Dinosaurs by Aliki for his bedtime story. Unlike the usual bedtime fare of fairy tales and talking animals, Aliki's little science book lured Googie in with the potential for some serious discussion in the areas of archaeology and paleontology. I could hardly wait for Pooh to finish brushing his teeth so that we could make our way toward bedtime by way of the Prehistoric Era.

Pages 1 through 8 were pretty predictable. We joined a typical storybook family on a trip to the museum where the dinosaur skeletons ruled.  We marveled at the long apatosaurus, preserved in sand and mud until the first dinosaur fossil was unearthed nearly 200 years ago.

Then came p. 9 with its illustration of a nest of fossil dinosaur eggs, and that's when the discussion got really interesting.

"Those eggs won't hatch," Pooh tells me with authority. Sniffing out a teachable moment, I prepare to pounce. Getting a whiff of the chance to discuss the stone-like condition of fossils, I prepare to lecture the boy on the nature of archaeological finds.

"No, they won't hatch," I said. "Do you know why?"  I was sure he did not. I was anticipating some lesson I could teach him about, say, sedimentary rocks.  Maybe we would even discuss the long-ago processes of carbonization and petrifaction.

"Yes," Pooh said, surprising me. "The eggs won't hatch because the daddy hasn't done anything special to them."

Say what? The daddy? Does something?  Special?  To the eggs?

I pulled my head out of academia and my eyes back to p. 9 and the nest of eggs. Sure enough, there was no sign of a daddy anywhere in the vicinity.  I had to give in on this one.

On the eve of a long day celebrating family birthdays and an early Easter, I was not interested in inquiring further about the special contributions made millions of years ago by dinosaur daddies--or, for that matter, by any daddies anytime. I am quite content to let Pooh's parents explore the concept of special with him at whatever time they--or he--chooses.  This time around, I am just the storybook reader.

So I would have to say that, night before last, I am the one who got the bedtime lesson:  Fairy tales and stories about talking animals are much safer, at least for now. As I learned, dinosaur eggs can lead you into fields you might not be quite ready to excavate.

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