Every Friday for Cole's kindergarten class is library day. And every Friday, without fail, he borrows a Dinosaur book. In fact, I'm fairly sure we've cycled through all of the dinosaur books at his school's library because we're beginning to see the same books again and again.
At bedtime, when Cole decides he wants us to read him one of these very long and informative books, we tell him he can pick three pages. I am so uninterested in dinosaurs that I have learned the skill of reading the words without even registering their meaning. I can plan meals, reflect on the ups and downs of my day and even contemplate the meaning of pi while reading page after page about Silurian fish, Diplodocus and the big meteorite that is surmised to have forced the dinosaurs to their extinction.
The other day, for some reason, something caught my attention. Cole and I were reading about Plateosaurus (the gentle giants of the Triassic Period). The book showed a diagram of this long-necked dinosaur standing on its hind feet at about 10 feet tall, hovering above a six-year-old boy so the reader could get an idea of scale. Then it stated that Plateosaurus might have been one of the largest dinosaurs of the Triassic Period. I'd probably read this page a hundred times, but for some reason this time I sensed a discrepancy.
"Hey!" I exclaimed to Cole, "How can Plateosaurus be a giant if he's only 10 feet tall?"
Cole looked up at me, "What do you mean?"
"I mean look, he doesn't look so big compared to this boy. But it says he's one of the largest dinosaurs of the Triassic Period. Tyrannosaur Rex and Brachiosaurus are HUGE. I guess those dinosaurs came later.... I wonder if dinosaurs all started out small and evolved and got bigger and bigger over time..."
"I don't know why, Mommy. I don't know how Plateosaurus can be a giant.... I don't know."
We vowed to google it next chance we got. But time just got away from us and we forgot. The weekend was over and it was suddenly Monday morning before Cole remembered, "Mommy! We forgot to look on your 'puter to see why Plateosaurus could be so small but is supposed to be the biggest dinosaur!"
"Hmm, we don't have time now. Maybe you can ask your teacher."
"I can ask my teacher?"
"Yeah, ask her if she has time to help you research why Plateosaurus is only 10 feet tall and how he could be one of the biggest dinosaurs of the Triassic Period."
"Tri-assic Period. Ask her if dinosaurs got bigger as they evolved."
I knew in my heart the teacher wouldn't really have time. If I could hardly find the time to do this research while caring for two kids, I couldn't imagine a teacher watching twenty four kids finding the time, but I figured it might show an inquisitive mind and maybe she'd be impressed. And who knows, maybe she already knew! Maybe she got this kind of question all the time!
Today, as Cole and I opened his Dinosaur book at bedtime, he said to me, "I asked Natasha about Plateosaurus!" (Natasha is the young lady who supervises his after-school program).
"Oh? What did she say?"
He was excited to explain it to me, his arms waving around animatedly, "This dinosaur is just a picture of Plateosaurus, Mommy! That's why it's small! In a Noo-seum it's a real big dinosaur - this is just a picture of a dinosaur. A picture can't be like a real dinosaur because then it's really REALLY too big, Mommy."
Glad we got that sorted out.