All children go through phases when they really like a certain toy, character or TV show. Some kids really like Thomas the Train, Elmo, Paw Patrol or Disney characters. They like them for a while and then their interest changes and they move onto the next thing. But sometimes this “like” can turn into an obsession. Such is the case with my 4-year-old son, Max.
His obsession is dinosaurs. He has more dinosaur figures than I can count. Some large, some small, all loved equally by Max. He knows the names and if they’re a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore. He has dinosaur clothes, shoes, underwear, backpack, water bottle, bedding, bank and more. You name it and Max probably has it with a dinosaur on it.
Max loves to take his dinosaurs outside to play in the grass, rocks, water, dirt, etc. We’ll be walking through a parking lot or along a sidewalk and Max will say, “This would be a good place to play with my dinosaurs! Can I bring them here sometime?” Sometimes the answer is yes. But other times, like when we were walking through the Medford Outlet Center parking lot, the answer is no. But it makes me smile thinking about how his imagination is at work.
Max frequently asks me to play dinosaurs with him. But he has a strict rule that the dinosaurs can’t talk, they only make sounds. This game play has been hard for me to adjust to as I spent my childhood talking up a storm while I played with my Barbies.
When Max and I are playing with his dinosaurs sometimes he will tell me the name of a dinosaur and I’ll think he’s made it up. But when I look it up, he’s right! Recently, we were in the toy section at a store looking at dinosaurs and he said, “That’s an Amargasaurus”. He was right! I had never in my life even heard that word, while Max not only knew the word but identified it with the correct dinosaur. I couldn’t believe it.
Max likes to watch videos on YouTube where people have created stories with their dinosaurs. On a recent warm, sunny day, Max asked if we could make our own video. So we did. We went outside and he moved them around in the grass and told a story as the T-Rex was after the Parasaurolophus. It was so cute. Afterwards, we watched the video. Max grinned from ear to ear as he watched his masterpiece. He was so proud.
He likes to pretend he’s a dinosaur when he’s at a playground. At home, if his sister is playing house, Max will ask if he can be the pet dinosaur.
If you ask Max what he wants to be when he grows up he will say a paleontologist. For those of you not well versed in dinosaurs, a paleontologist is one who studies fossils.
I can’t recall how or why Max’s infatuation with dinosaurs started. But it is strong indeed.
When I was a child, my passion was Barbies. I loved them. But probably still not to the degree Max loves dinosaurs. Everything I owned wasn’t Barbie decorated.
My brother’s obsession was He-Man. His level probably rivaled Max’s with dinosaurs. He had all the He-Man action figures, forts and accessories. His lunch box was He-Man, he had He-Man clothes and we watched the cartoon every day after school. His collection was so great, he was asked to display it at our local library.
My daughter, Amaya, has liked different things but never to this degree. She went through a phase when she loved Doc McStuffins, but it was fairly short-lived. Both Amaya and Max went through a pretty solid Disney Frozen-loving stage. Now that I think about it that was Amaya’s obsession. She had most everything with Elsa or Frozen on it — dolls, clothes, backpack, costumes, water bottle, posters. Yes, she was infatuated. But it’s waned a bit now.
When your child really likes something, we as parents learn a lot, too. I now know more about dinosaurs than I ever thought I would. Likewise, I can sing all the songs from Frozen and quote most of the movie.
I love seeing my children have such an interest in something. But kids can be fickle and Max’s love for dinosaurs might end next week, next month or next year. Who knows what he might move onto next. But it’s possible he might stay intrigued for a lifetime and really become that paleontologist. One never knows where a passion will lead.