The Imagination Gap – T-Rex Chases and Cold, Hard Truths

Jurassic ParkWe can’t take a drive these days without being chased by a ravenous T-Rex.

Thankfully, our youngest son Benjamin updates us on the dinosaur’s proximity while we drive, otherwise we wouldn’t even know the beastie was in hot pursuit.

Elijah, wise beyond his four years, routinely douses Benjamin’s T-Rex alerts - ”dinosaurs haven’t been around for thousands of years, Dad,” Elijah says.

Whew.

Frankly, I’d rather be chased by an imaginary T-Rex than chance Benjamin melting down over the slightest insult. He’s like that these days, able to whip up a storm of tears over any injustice, like not getting any green Skittles when he successfully navigates the potty chair.

Plus, one of the wonders of the toddler years is watching their brains concoct intricate play sessions, the kind even a literary maestro like Stephen King couldn’t summon after a batch of mushrooms.

Both our boys were weaned on Barney the Dinosaur, the best salesman for imagination a child could have. If David Mamet wrote an episode of “Barney & Friends,” you know ol’ Barney would win a set of steak knives at the very least.

Yet while Ben is constantly using his mind to conjure up new and fascinating things, Eli is focused on the here and now. He loves nonfiction books about sharks, poultry and kelp come bed time. He no longer pines for his once beloved Dr. Seuss books, teeming with whimsical rhymes and silly creatures.

The horror, the horror.

Part of Elijah’s T-Rex objections likely stem from sibling rivalry. If it’s good enough for Ben, it’s clearly not good enough for him. That’s natural, but it’s sad to see someone Eli’s age put one chubby toe in the real world.

Sometimes I’ll play along with the T-Rex chase even after Eli tells me it couldn’t possibly be true. And, if I can ratchet up my own imagination to match what Ben brings to the table, Eli will begrudgingly join in the fun.

Heck, sometimes I see a big, green monster in our car’s rear view mirror myself.

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