I apparently need to go back to elementary school.
This humbling realization struck me as I sat down with my 3-year-old daughter to “teach” her about dinosaurs.
She’s way into dinosaurs right now. She refuses to drink from anything but a dinosaur-covered sippy cup; will eat dinosaur-shaped nuggets despite the fact that she hates chicken; and a tiny pterodactyl toy leads her stuffed animal entourage.
At least I thought it was a pterodactyl.
Turns out it could be a Dorygnathus. Or a Scaphognathus.
In fact, according to the Discovery Kids “Magnetic DINOUSAURS” (With fold-out timeline!) book my best friend Nicole picked up at the grocery store, I don’t know jack about dinosaurs.
I had a handle on the book's introductory early Earth stuff: Mesozoic era, pangea, continental drift. No surprises there.
But as I turned more pages, I began to wonder how it’s possible for two college degrees to be trumped by a $6 sticker book.
What the heck is a Coelophysis? Or an Eoraptor, for that matter?
OK ... moving on. Ah, there’s one I recognize.
I pointed it out to Sonia, confidently stating: “Brontosaurus.”
Oh, wait. It’s a Titanosaur. What?!? Nuh-uh. No way. That thing looks just like the dinosaur Fred Flintstone slid down when the quitting whistle blew at Mr. Slate’s quarry. I’m sorry, but no. The book is wrong.
A-ha, good old Triceratops -- I knew you’d never change, you beautiful lizard-pig, you!
My expert status restored, I began to paraphrase.
“Triceratops dinosaurs had three big spikes on their heads. These ‘horns’ were (I scan the text) up to three feet long.”
Wow. That’s longer than I thought. I skim further.
“They lived in North America,” OK that I knew, “and were 30 feet long.”
What?!?!? 30 feet? That’s no lizard-pig! Why had I always believed they were smaller -- like the size of a cow or a hippo? A 30-foot, mountain of horned flesh? Really? That’s terrifying! Next page, next page!
What is that thing? I don’t even remember any of those in Land of the Lost! It looks like a giant armadillo covered in switchblades! Oh dear god … it says here it could break a Tyrannosaurus leg with one blow of its freaky-looking mace tail!
What kind of sicko book is this?!?!? Dinosaurs used to be FUN!!!
I flip to the quiz at the end of the book to bolster my confidence.
I’m sure they were just showing off with all those weirdo dinosaurs. I’ll bet the answer to the quiz questions will be super-easy. I mean, It’s for kids. I got this.
Yeah. I got one right. One.
With a firm determination I snap the stupid thing shut.
That’s it. We’re going back to Barney books for a while.