09 June 2011


You do your best. You try to set a good example. Encourage weirdness, try to make life interesting and unique, let them fly their freak flag. And then, you realize your efforts have been in vain, as your kid starts becoming a prototypical little boy, just like all the others.

Our son is a cliché.

I made this observation to my wife recently and was promptly chastised for it. Not only for the denigration of our child, but also the misinformed inanity of the remark. After all, how could a 2 1/2 year old, his personality development in its nascent stages, possibly be a cliché?

Well, our kid is into dinosaurs. No, like, really into dinosaurs.

Yes, this particular observation was directly related to the Doozer's ever-growing fondness for all things dinosaur-related. There's the incredibly bizarre Nickelodeon show called Dino Dan that he loves to watch, a live-action/animation hybrid in which the titular Dan (an elementary-aged schoolboy) sees dinosaurs everywhere: the school playground, his neighborhood, his backyard. Nobody else sees the dinosaurs. They are figments of his imagination. Or something.

I must confess I've never fully engaged with an entire episode of this show, it might very well be a great advocate for using one's imagination, but my initial reaction is that this kid is weird and I think that there is something wrong him.

Is this where the Doozer's headed? Bizarre, hallucinatory visions of dinosaurs all around? Seriously, it's like a more kid-friendly version of the scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Duke sees reptiles prowling around and getting blitzed in the hotel bar. Weird scene, man.

Anyway, his constant companions are three rubber dinosaur toys (which is my fault, I bought the first two of those damn things), the tyrannosaurs rex (yes, the Doozer can say this name in its entirety) and stegosaurus and what Internet research has led us to believe is something called a dilophosaurus. And sure, hearing him say these names aloud is a hugely entertaining experience. Or can be. In moderation.

He also attempts to live in a dinosaur T-shirt he got, in the style of a boxing match poster, featuring the T-rex versus the Triceratops. Almost daily he asks to wear this shirt. Conversely (and depressingly), the kid staunchly refuses to wear the totally awesome, toddler-sized Beatles T-shirt that we got for him.

Such a nerd.

One recent day at the playground, while he was running around in this favorite dinosaur T-shirt, a slightly older boy ran up to the Doozer, complimented him on his shirt and began a Joycean stream-of-consciousness monologue (directed ostensibly at our son, but essentially at no one in particular) about his own love of dinosaurs.

What nerds, I thought. Then: Oh, wait. That one's mine.

And I suppose nerdiness is one thing. He could grow up to be a brilliant innovator who changes the world (or amasses a small fortune with all his braininess). But being a cliché is something else entirely.

And so to go along with the dinosaur obsession, the Doozer has discovered the joy of playing in the dirt. I say "joy," because that appears to be how he feels about it, although I do not concur. Could there be a bigger little boy cliché than this? I don't think so.

He is also black-and-blue everywhere, the result of an unsteady, volatile mix of aggression, enthusiasm, and general clumsiness that defines his constant movement through the world.

Sure, he loves the Beatles and is a bit of a budding Francophile. Let's channel our energy there, shall we, kid? It's been so long now that my own childhood is a bit of a blur, but I find it difficult to believe there was ever a time in my life (even as a toddler) when I wasn't striving for something a bit more than dirt and dinosaurs. I imagine my five year-old self, reading the New Yorker and discussing Woody Allen and listening to Dylan.

Why can't he be more like that?

Oh well, I must stop now. I've got to strip the kid's dinosaur T-shirt off and hose the dirt off him. Again.

Oh, Doozer. You're better than this.

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