As I said, the day began as a simple trip to the Nature Center, but when you have a 2-year-old (any child, for that matter), does “simple” ever-really apply?
If you ask my son if he wants water, he’ll say: “yes-no-yes.” Hand him the water, and he gives it back. Put said-water away in the backpack, he instantly says: “Dada… water .”
We walked around the Nature Center for about 20 minutes, looking at everything they had–with me telling him every 15 seconds, “Please stop running. Please stop pulling on that. Please stop running.” In between the running and all the great listening, we headed over to the observation window, which looked out onto a pretty good-sized pond, with a lot of wildlife: turtles, ducks, fish, snakes, and a few insects (most notably dragonflies).
As we looked out over all this my son said, “Dada, T-Rex is gone.”
I said: “Well yeah, he’s off sleeping.”
He was excited to see all the turtles, then asked: “Where is crockie?” (crocodile).
I said: “He’s off sleeping.”
Then, we decide to walk to the river, which is a short 3/4-of-a-mile hike. As we walked out of the gate, my son spotted a lizard–he was so excited to see it run all over the place. Our journey had begun.
It’s on days like this that being a parent is such a fun and exciting adventure–it makes me love being a parent.
My son, then, decided we were looking for a Spinosaurus. He stopped along the trail, saying he saw a dino-track, here and there. I was the grown-up: the wise, adult in this adventure. So, I told him: “LOOK!!! SPINOSAURUS POOO ” (which was of course was horse droppings).
I should point out that my son recognizes, and likes to say, a lot of dinosaur names. My favorite names–that he says–are: Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. And, yes, I take every opportunity to encourage him to say those dino names.
We went to each pile, checking them for clues, going along the trail. We, then, continue on down the trail, looking this way and that, looking for that elusive ginormous lizard/bird/whatever-the-science-guys-finally-calls-them: Spinosaurus.
Then, my son would say,”See Dada: Spinosaurus.”
Half-way through our dino-safari, my son came upon another pile of poo, “Dada: T-Rex poo.”
I, of course, said: “Yep, my son, that is T-Rex poo alright.”
We finally get to the river and my son looked up-and-down the river. He pulled on the blades of grass/weeds. He seemed to be channeling his inner Dino-Dan, as he threw his hands into the air and said: “Dada, T-REX IS GONE!”
He went to sit on his mom’s lap, looking dejected and drinking from his water bottle. He gazed across the river–with a sad look on his face, as if he was Gonzalo Pizarro failing to find El Dorado. Then, after sitting in the shade for awhile we headed back.
Not 10 steps from where we’d been sitting by the river, my son saw a lizard and began the chase all over again–as excited as before, on our Spinosaurus/T-Rex hunt.
I’m always amazed by how quickly kids can get back on their proverbial horse. Often, he was crushed (and his world seemed to crashing down around him). But, minutes later, he’s back at it (as eager, and excited, as ever).
We don’t seem to realize how resilient they are.
In all his excitement, my son asked for my help in catching the lizards along the trail and each time I say to him, “I wish I could son, they are fast. I’m old and slow.” He asked every time he saw a lizard, and I gave him the same answer. Finally, instead of asking again, he rather, matter-of-factly said: “Slow Dada,” and then continued on without missing a beat.
And, the hunt went on.