Tuesday, August 29, 2006


My son became fascinated by dinosaurs at an early age. It began one day at preschool. His teacher was reading a picture book about these large extinct animals when she noticed the wide-eyed expression upon the face of my timid son. She asked him if he was frightened by the book.

But, as she told me later, it was quite something other than fear. It was awe.

His interest came at a time when there was a lot of excellent books being published on dinosaurs. Also it was at the time when the Jurassic Park movie was first released.

From then on, our visits to the library would see us leave laden down with books about dinosaurs and, being the overzealous mother that I am, I learnt a lot about them myself.

His favourite dinosaur was the Triceratops – “tri” meaning three and “ceratops” meaning…. well, I have no idea what ceratops means.

Just joking! I do actually know what it means because I found his Triceratops book and it says that the word means “three-horned face”.

Triceratops was from the Cretaceous period which came after the Jurassic period that you all know about thanks to those movies.

Triceratops was an herbivore which doesn’t mean it only ate parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. It means that it was a plant eater and it had a sharp, toothless beak to slice through rough leaves and twigs.

I did encourage my son in pursuing his passion for dinosaurs as I believed that a dinosaur digger-upper (sorry, palaeontologist) could have been a viable career option.

I found two good reasons for condoning this career choice.

Firstly, unlike a police officer, a lion tamer or jackeroo (Australian cowboy), I felt that the palaeontologist’s job wouldn’t be very dangerous. My son would have been unlikely to get shot, bitten or, indeed, trod on by a dinosaur.

The worst case scenario may have been that he could sustain an injury by kicking his toe on a very large bone and/or he may get a dose of sunburn.

Secondly I believed that, although the university fees for the 4 to 9 years of study (depending on whether you do a Ph.D) may have been high, when he completed his degree it wouldn’t have cost me much to set him up.

All he would have needed was a little pick to dig up the bones, a little brush to get the dirt off, a good sunhat and copious amounts of sunscreen.

I felt that this was much better than setting up someone for another career, such as, a person who has just done a dentistry degree.

Now that chair alone must set you back a bit. Then there are the drills and files and that porcelain sink with the swirling water and those plastic cups and that sucky thing they put in your mouth.

And then there are the wages for that young attractive dental assistant.

Also, I believe Venetian blinds are expensive these days too.

Sorry, off the track there for a moment!

Now, as I said, I learnt quite a bit about dinosaurs during those years. I practised those hard to pronounce names. I traced pictures and drew up a large poster for his bedroom door which featured all the dinosaurs.

I learnt that very young children are quite capable of understanding the difference between the various dinosaurs and they quickly learn to pronounce their names.

Not surprising really as they pick up foreign languages so readily at that age.

Now you are wondering about my disdain for The Wiggles aren’t you?

Well, I was in the library recently and I was most disturbed by a conversation I overheard between a mother and her young son.

“Dinosaur.” He announced as he pointed to a rather good plastic facsimile of a dinosaur.

“Ah, yes.” replied mother. “Dorothy the dinosaur.”

She was referring to an inane Wiggles ditty.

Well, it was too much for me. I had to intervene.

“You don’t know your dinosaurs, do you?” I chastised her. “That is a stegosaurus. Can’t you tell by the plates on its back?”

Fortunately the mother knows me quite well and she laughed rather than punch me in the nose.

So, damn you The Wiggles.

Damn you for dumbing down, not only our little children, but their parents as well.

There is no dinosaur called Dorothy and that big green yellow-spotted puppet wearing what looks like a rose-adorned cricket hat bears no resemblance to any unearthed dinosaur.

Just how lazy are you Wiggles when it comes to inventing characters? It wouldn’t have been that hard to make it look like a real dinosaur.

And, when your write those little ditties that line your pockets, it wouldn’t be difficult to whip up a rhyme using legitimate dinosaur names. Most dinosaur names usually end with ‘osaurus’ or ‘ceratops' and other easily rhymable endings.

I repeat, how difficult could it be. Young children are quite capable of recognising even the subtle differences between the many dinosaurs and, as I said, they can pronounce their names quite fluently!

I want caretakers to stop inflicting these inane Wiggle ditties upon our children.

There is an alternative and his name is Don Spencer.

Yes, the Don Spencer who has the honour of being Russell Crowe’s father-in-law.

Don writes beautiful songs for children that are not just entertaining but they contain legitimate information about animals.

I recommend “Feathers, Fur and Fins.”

Michelle ©

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