Thursday, September 11, 2008

meris vs. T-rex

So here’s the story of why I sought out a book about gun safety for preschoolers in the first place.

One of the stops on our family road trip this summer was Wall Drug, a sprawling, campy rest stop in South Dakota, right near the entrance to Badlands National Park. It is enough of an attraction to be one of the 500 places listed in 500 Places to Take your Kids Before They Grow Up (my Father’s Day gift to Ariel this year). I suppose it’s a decent place to make a stop if you’re in the area. Actually, it’s pretty much the only place to stop if you’re in the area. I know this because we spent the night a handful of miles away in Kadoka, which was the tiniest, most rural little town-ish place I’ve been in a long, long time, especially in this country.

Anyway, one of the many attractions at Wall Drug is an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex. I didn’t take a photo, so bear with the explanation: the T-rex (we’ll call him Rex) is a good 15 feet tall, but all that is visible is his (when I stop and think about it, I guess I assume most T-rexes are male) head. He is standing in a jungle environment, but is behind a solid gate with an electrified wire running along the top. Basically, he’s in a dinosaur holding pen out of Jurassic Park. While we stood waiting for Rex to roar (every 12 minutes), a little boy stood aiming his brand-new toy shotgun at the poor, trapped reptile.

“What is that?” asked Meris, when the boy caught his attention. His eyes widened a bit with curiosity and excitement every time the boy made a shooting sound effect.

“It’s a gun,” said the boy.

“Can I hold it?” Meris shyly squealed. His voice really did pitch up, as if he already knew how the boy would respond. The boy ignored Meris, and continued to repeatedly pop Rex.

About 10 seconds after steam started to rise from the jungle and Rex erupted into a roar, complete with head thrashing, eyes flashing red, Meris managed to spit out, “Let’s go out from here.” So we went on to some of the tamer and wetter adventures to be had at Wall Drug. End of story, until….

The next day, we stopped at McDonald’s for lunch. Meris sat down with his first (to my knowledge, anyway) Happy Meal. The toy was a Spy Gear secret message pen, which happened to be roughly the shape of a gun. Meris entertained himself at the table, telling me that he was “firing T-Rex” and making the appropriate sound effects. I wasn’t quite sure whether to try and discourage him, so I asked, “Won’t the dinosaur be hurt if you shoot it?”

“No, Mommy, it will be dead,” he replied.

“How do you know that? Who told you about guns?” I truly had no idea where he had gathered these particular facts about how the world works. I’d never heard him talk about guns, nor seen him pretend that his hand or stick was a weapon.

“Oh, Imo Kim told me,” he said. And he stuck by his story when I asked him the same question some time later.

My sister Kim’s response was perfect. “Oh, that kid can’t keep a secret!” she laughed. The truth is that we’ll never know where he picked up on the wonderful world of gun play—it’s just yet another example of how carefully Meris is observing and remembering everything that goes on around him.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

matea milestone: four months!

Hard to believe that little Ms. Matea has reached her four-month birthday! Her length, 26.25 inches, puts her in the 97th percentile; her weight, 15 lb. 7 oz., is 90th percentile. Her head circumference, something like 40 cm (I think), is a mere 70% percentile--quite a change after Meris, whose head circumference continues to be off the charts for his age.

We popped Matea into an Exersaucer for the first time ever... and she immediately seemed happy and interested. Meris, too.