Jurassic Frogs

dino frogWe found a frog in the garden. A big, green Calavaras-county style bullfrog hiding under the straw.

“Mom, he reminds me of a palaeobatrachus. That’s a dinosaur that was an amphibian. A dinosaur frog. Frogs are amphibians, you know. They live in the water and on land.” He continued, “Mom! I discovered a lot about frogs. They’re slimy because of the water, and they have feet like a duck. That’s how they swim.”

I googled this fact. Not the part about the duck–about the paleo-frog I couldn’t spell. He was, in fact right, down to the last detail I couldn’t understand.

This is serious. I think he might get locked in a gym locker earlier than I previously expected–do they have gym lockers in kindergarten?

He tells me lots of facts–math facts, obscure facts from the dawn of man, geo-facts, and he carries a little piece of shale in his pocket with a leaf fossil. Or a crinkle in the rock. We want to think it’s a leaf fossil. He’s been digging intently to find more for three days.

“Be careful, you’re going to dig to China, and I didn’t get your passport yet.” I said.

“MOM! You CAN’T dig to CHINA! You would only dig to molten rock and lava. That’s what’s at the center of the Earth.” Point well taken.

“How do you know this?” Inquiring minds want to know.

“Because I am a Man of Science.” Indeed.

He loves his class and his friends. He has just one critique. “School is boring, I just want to play.” Fair enough.

“Let’s do your math first. We have to draw the circles near this problem.”

“I don’t need the circles. That’s for babies. I know how to add the numbers.”

“Let’s check.”  I put a handful of plastic dinosaurs onto the table. “How many dinos?”

“17.” Correct.

“If I take eight,” I do not touch them, “How many will there be?”

“Nine,” he says.  Nine is correct. He’s doing better than Wall Street.

What if school were all about dinosaurs. What if we added dinos, subtracted dinos, talked about how dinos interacted with people and how we have dino shows today? We could graph the extinction pattern, project meteors throughout space, and classify geo-material I can’t spell. I’d learn too, though. Bet he’d never be bored. What if we could do that for every kid? I think about that a lot lately.

Yes, my kid’s a giant nerd–he reminds me of my friend’s kid when he was the same age, but his thing was robots, and he didn’t get locked into a gym locker. He’s in high school now. But if Declan isn’t as lucky, I feel confident that when he gets let out, that in twenty years he’ll fire the people who put him in.

And that is what life is all about.



15 thoughts on “Jurassic Frogs

      • I can’t understand why wifey and I aren’t 30 lbs slimmer from chasing Tantrum Tot around all day! And wifey is pregnant with our fourth (and last) boy!

      • Four!!! That’s not only impressive, but IMPRESSIVE!! My friend has four–I think. Maybe five, they run quickly. Here’s the question–if I, an otherwise reasonably intelligent soul, can’t get one child to comply, how do you achieve this with four? Are you tempted to never leave the house, or do you develop such skills that you can take them out in public, line them up, and have them sing songs like the Von Trapps? Congratulations, and maybe you can write the guide and autograph one copy for me.

      • The Van Trapps?! THAT was hysterical! No…we’ve not managed to live in harmony let alone sing in harmony at this point. Honestly without their mother’s presence, I fear what would happen..my boys and I do not communicate well…we love each other and there is a strong sense of that…but without her to translate between us especially with the 8 year old …no I’ve had to come to grips and accept that “normal” will never be in this family. And embrace the quirks and things that would ordinarily drive me insane and accept them as normal.
        We only go out to certain places where the kids antics won’t be noticed as too odd….such as Chuck E Cheeses etc. We have to leave the baby with her mom to go see a movie…and we don’t eat out at all unless it’s in a drive through for right now. The older kids we can manage with some degree of control, but the 2 year old is in the “we’ll never see daylight again” stage. All my kids went through this and came out on the other side. It’s the 2 year old’s turn so we’ve switched back to that mode for now.
        Admittedly, we’ve never had 2 in pampers for b4 so we’re kind of nervous about that.

      • The five year old is just getting to be okay in public, but today at the vets he insisted on continuing to put his hands in his pants, which I don’t think is appropriate public behavior. Especially if you’re called upon to say hello and shake hands.

      • At Universal Studios my wife took my 8 year old in with her to get the special passes we needed for the kids. The 8 year old stood in the corner lightly banging his head against the wall! The people took one look and said so how many passes did you need?? No questions asked!

  1. My son has the same comment about school, and he goes to one that’s “progressive.” But as you know, we have to learn how to make something interesting or fun. Like when I tell my son how I used to play “beat the clock” to memorize my multiplication tables. I wasn’t happy until I beat the teacher and everyone else in class. Yes, I was (am) a nerd. And so is my son–only in other ways.

    I think we all have nerd potential (if being unusually excited about a topic is the definition of nerd-dom); it’s just finding the nerd switch that can be so deeply embedded that one may never find it unless there is the opportunity, the experiences, the time, the resources to find it.

      • But they often need the opportunity to discover their gift, don’t you think? A friend of mine is a librarian at a school with all very low income families. The school has had the opportunity to send kids to Yerba Buena Center where there is an ice rink. The kids had a chance to skate there, and who knew that a 5-yr-old boy from Vietnam would be a prodigy if he hadn’t had the chance to ice skate? So now he gets his lessons for free and is flipping toward a bright future as a figure skater. I know, weird example, but there are soooooooooo many things in this world that a child can be good at. My fear is that so many go through life not knowing just what THAT THING is.

      • True, but not only awesome experiences like that, but just having the normal individuality diminished due to testing and standardization. I don’t think that the Common Core said every kid must parrot the same thing–I thought that’s what they were designed to avoid.

      • gotcha. I’m not sure I know anyone who really likes standardized tests. I think we need to put some of our “best minds” to work on a new educational paradigm. Maybe it should be you. BTW, I saw a great film tonight, co-produced by a friend who’s a parent at our school. Check it out at: http://www.roomtobreathefilm.com/

      • Nice, I’ll bookmark this so I don’t blare it at 4AM and blow off the project I’m finishing…

        We already have the technology to get around this, but I fear that it’s such a big industry it’d be like fighting GMOs… Everyone has a stake in assessment. Honestly, I don’t need it–I can tell through conversations. Would it be quantified, no. Am I working on material stress for a bridge, no. I can reasonably assure you of the aptitude of a given student, abolish report cards and write a corporate style eval and help mentor them. It’d be much more successful.

  2. Pingback: I Need Gandhi: Little Boys and Weapons of Mass Destruction | Café Casey

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