We are now living in the era of the dinosaur.
Our son Jones is almost two and a half years old, and he is positively electrified by the creatures.
The idea of them are the current that runs through his body. His sun and moon. His east and west. They are spinning and shining and thumping and roaring through his days, they are everything he wants his universe to be. And so, on a cold morning in the disorienting limbo between Christmas and New Year’s, we took him to the Royal Ontario Museum.
Standing there as we entered, Jones twisting in his jacket to get free from my grip and and run to the “BIG DINOSAUR!”, I was hoping that my son might grow to love museums. I imagined him retreating into them over the course of his life the way he might a lake, emerging nourished and restored after each encounter. Sanctuaries of rich, wide spaces and cool tile. All the marvels of history respectfully arrayed before him, and always, he would have the sense of being somewhere else, a place just outside of time, and of being suspended right before a great mystery that was both his life and not his life.
And then he spun free and ran out into the great hall.
He was just so excited.
He tore from one wonder to the next, identifying each one as best he could. It was astounding to watch. He was a fever. A pinball. A waterfall. A million monkeys typing. I swear to you that he was glowing, he really was.
Watching, I wondered why our children, all so innocent and vulnerable, were attracted to the creatures we consider the most terrible and dangerous? Why run into the jaws of a dinosaur? Why the darkness? And all of the parents there, each one smiling through whatever weight it was their burden to carry, were likely pondering some variant of the same question as they watched their miracles of light streak so beautifully through the museum.