Tag: dinosaur

Charlie’s Room: Short and Tall

Charlie looked up from his spaghetti and asked, “How tall will I be when I grow up?”

Marianne and Isaac looked at each other. Isaac lost the staring contest. He smiled at Charlie. “It’s hard to say. You’ll probably be somewhere around the height of your mom and I. Why do you ask?”

“I was wondering if I got too tall for this house, if I could go and live at that store with the really tall doors. I think I’d like that. How do I get to be tall?”

Marianne shrugged. “I don’t think you get to pick how tall you are. Just eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. That’s pretty much all you can do.”

“Unless you end up in some sort of magical dimension and eat the wrong sort of thing,” Isaac added.

“Like Alice in Wonderland?” Charlie grinned. “I like that. It would be nice to be able to be short and tall whenever you want. And her clothes grew with her! That would be good. I’m not sure if there are clothes for really, really tall people in the stores. If I was really small, we could buy a doll house for me to live in.”

“Well, there aren’t any magical dimensions, so you need to eat your vegetables and go to bed on time.” Marianne pointed to his plate and Charlie started eating his peas.

“And the dollhouse?” Charlie asked, his mouth half full of chewed peas.

“Wait to finish eating what’s in your mouth before you talk.”

Charlie closed his mouth, and Isaac nodded approvingly. “If you were small enough to live in a dollhouse, we’d get you one.”

Charlie finished chewing. “I think I need a little brother or sister.”

“Why?” Marianne frowned.

“Then I wouldn’t be the littlest one in the house. I’d be really big, but I wouldn’t be the biggest one, either. I’d be big and small at the same time. So?”

“So, what?” Isaac asked.

“When can I have a little brother or sister?”

Marianne and Isaac looked at each other. Isaac lost the staring contest again. He really needed to practice, or he was going to be stuck answering all the difficult questions. He didn’t mind really, except that Marianne usually gave better answers.

“That probably won’t happen,” Isaac said. “But we’ll let you know if that changes. I think you’re overlooking one obvious solution to your problem.”

Charlie frowned at first, but his frown fell as he began to think. “What solution? Can we get a dog?”

“I’m still allergic to dogs, sadly,” Isaac said.

Charlie thought a little longer. “I still don’t know.”

“If what you really want is to be short and tall, the solution isn’t to find some one younger than you. If you had a little brother or sister, they would grow too. They might even end up taller than you. Also, you are already shorter than us, but as you get older, that will change. We won’t be a lot taller than you any more. However, there are things that you are always going to be taller than or shorter than.”

“Like what?”

“Think of the plants and animals that are taller and shorter than you.”

“Like dinosaurs?”

Isaac nodded. “Yup. Always taller.”

“But who is always shorter?”

“Goldfish, petunias, flower fairies, leprechauns, ants…” Isaac started counting things off on his fingers.

“I still kind of want a little brother or sister. And a big brother or sister. And a dog.” Charlie pushed the peas around on his plate.

Marianne and Isaac looked at each other. Marianne smiled and let Isaac win the staring contest. She put a hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “Do you remember the story of the three bears? Each of the bears had something different, but it was just right for them. Do you think Mama bear who liked soft chairs would have been comfortable in Papa bear’s chair?”


“Do you think that Papa Bear liked his porridge the same way as Mama bear?”

“I guess not. I don’t know.”

Marianne patted Charlie’s shoulder and let go. “Just right is different for different people and different families. I think our family is just right for us. I’m glad we have each other.”

Charlie nodded slowly. “Okay. But can we get a bird? Or a goldfish? Dad isn’t allergic to those.”

Marianne looked at Isaac and he shrugged. “We’ll see,” she said.

The next week, they bought a goldfish. It was much shorter than Charlie. “Now I just need to find a dinosaur,” he said.

Charlie’s Room: Rainy Afternoon

The afternoon was cool and overcast. There was enough light to read by, but it felt later in the day than it actually was. They had eaten lunch late, so no one was in a hurry to start cooking dinner.

Marianne and Charlie were drawing up plans for the garden. They had the spring garden coming along well, but it was time to start transitioning things for summer and planning for fall. Luckily they kept a pretty detailed garden journal, so they were able to look back to previous years for help.

Isaac was reading. The story was getting to an exciting point where he kept turning pages to find out what happened next. He was so interested in the story, that the world around him faded away.

Suddenly, he felt Charlie tapping his arm. “Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad…”


Charlie folded his arms across his chest with a frown. “You weren’t listening. We were asking your opinion on cantaloupe.”

“I like cantaloupe.” He turned back to his book and read the first sentence of the next chapter.

Charlie tapped his arm. “But do you like it better than honeydew melons?”

Isaac shrugged. “I like them both.” He began reading the first sentence again.

“That didn’t help.” Charlie began tapping his arm again.

Marianne laughed. “I told you. He’s too busy thinking about his book to think about gardens. We can ask him later.”

“Fine.” Charlie stopped tapping.

Isaac read the first sentence of the next chapter for a third time, but this time he wasn’t interrupted. It wasn’t until the next chapter break that he noticed it was raining. He looked up and realized that the room was a lot darker than before.

He was leaning in a lot closer to his book. He straightened up and stretched his head from side to side. Ouch. How long was he hunched over like that?

The house seemed quiet. He looked around. Marianne and Charlie were curled up on opposite arms of the couch, fast asleep.

The rain continued to tap against the windows. If he listened closely, he could almost hear music. He stood up and walked to the window. Outside, he could see brightly colored dots hovering around the flowers. They were the size of bees or maybe butterflies, but more luminous, and they seemed to be humming to the rhythm of the rain.

He watched them weave around the flowers in whirling patterns of color for a while. However, the humming and the rain and the snoring behind him were all making him a little sleepy. Isaac sat back down in his comfortable chair, picked up his book, and read the first sentence of the next chapter. Then, he fell asleep.

Of course, he didn’t realize he’d fallen asleep until he woke up later, startled out of sleep when he dropped his book. Marianne laughed. “You’ve been sleeping for a while. I guess the book wasn’t as interesting as you thought.”

“It was the rain…” Isaac stopped and listened. “The rain stopped.”

“It put us to sleep, too,” Charlie said. “We just woke up.”

“Sometimes an afternoon nap is just what you need.” Marianne smiled and began to gather up the papers on the couch.

“Since we took a nap, does that mean we can stay up late to watch a movie? Dad doesn’t have work tomorrow, and I don’t feel at all tired anymore.” Charlie jumped up and did a little dance. “See, full of energy.”

“That does look like a wide awake sort of dance,” Isaac said. “Do you think there are falling-asleep dances?”

“I wonder what that would look like?” Marianne thought for a moment and shook her head. “I don’t usually think of dancing as something that would put you to sleep.”

“Maybe if it was the kind with the long, slow music,” Charlie said. “You know, the sleepy kind of music that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.”

Isaac thought about the little dots of color and the humming and the rain. “I think you’re right. The music does matter. So, what kind of music is wide awake music?”

Charlie didn’t have to think about that at all. “The theme song for the newest dinosaur movie! We can watch it right after dinner, and we won’t feel at all sleepy.”

He was right.

Charlie’s Room: Upside Down and Backwards

“…And we’ll find out what happened to the dinosaur detective in the next chapter.” Isaac put the homemade bookmark in place and closed the book.

Charlie had been quiet all evening. Even now, when the chapter was over, he didn’t complain or ask for another chapter. Isaac was a little worried.

“Charlie, are you feeling okay?”

“Yes.” There was a long pause. “It’s just that… everything feels upside down and backwards right now. I miss when things were normal.”

Being stuck at home indefinitely as the world tried to halt the spread of a pandemic was certainly not normal. “It’s a little scary and you miss your friends, right?”

“You and mom have work to do and it’s boring by myself.” Charlie shifted on his bed so that he could see Isaac better. “Do you have to do so much work? If I help, you could get done faster.”

“That would be backwards wouldn’t it? If you did my work and I did your school? That would be a real upside down and backwards day!”

Charlie laughed. “We could have spaghetti for breakfast and cereal for dinner.”

Isaac made a face. “I don’t think I’d like that. I like cereal for breakfast, or oatmeal. But not spaghetti.”




Isaac tapped his chin with a finger. “Hmmmmmm. Maybe pizza.”

“Yeah, pizza is really good.”

Isaac nodded. “And you could wear pajamas all day, and brush your teeth before you eat, and put your daytime clothes on for bed.”

This time it was Charlie who made a face. “Pajamas all day would be okay, but the rest would be awful.”

“Daytime clothes would be uncomfortable,” Isaac agreed. “And pajamas would be fine as long as you didn’t go out to the garden. The raspberries would rip up your pajamas.”

“And toothpaste before you eat would make everything taste weird.”

“But maybe you could have a treat before dinner.”

“Like what? Upside down cake?” Charlie grinned. “Get it? Upside down cake? And you could serve everything with the plates on top and the food on the table?”

“But what about cocoa? That would get everywhere if you poured it on the table.”

Charlie shrugged. “No cocoa on upside down backwards day, then.”

“But if we can’t drink anything, we’d get thirsty.”

“We could drink out of the faucet.”

“I wouldn’t want to miss out on cocoa.” Isaac thought for a moment. “Would drinking it cold be backwards enough?”

“I guess.”

“If I’m doing your school, do I get to play before I get my assignments done?” Isaac grinned up at Charlie.

Charlie frowned. “Does that mean I have to do your crossword puzzles before I do your job? I don’t like crossword puzzles. I think I’ll play before school, and that’s backwards enough for backwards day.”

“Sounds good to me.” Isaac put the dinosaur book back on the shelf. “Maybe we could read the next chapter in our book before breakfast.”


Isaac smiled. “Sure, if tomorrow is upside down backwards day.”

“Well… I did say everything is already upside down and backwards, right?”

Isaac nodded. “Does that mean I’m serving spaghetti under plates for breakfast?”

“Dad! No. Just the story. And maybe dessert first. And playing before schoolwork. And pajamas, except when I’m in the garden.”

“And cold cocoa, right?” Isaac smiled.

“I guess. Can we do all that?”

“I think so. You could wear your pajamas backwards too. And your shoes inside your socks.”

Charlie laughed. “I don’t want to, but you could do all that. It would be funny for your meetings.”

Isaac imagined wearing backwards pajamas to his online meetings and laughed. “Yeah, probably not. But I think the rest of the things you mentioned sound fun. We can have a upside down backwards day tomorrow.”

“That’ll be great. Thanks, Dad.” Charlie smiled.

“Of course.” Isaac stood up. “Goodnight, Charlie. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Isaac turned out the light and left the room. He had an upside down backwards day to plan.

Charlie’s Room: Bad Day

In the latest chapter of the new dinosaur book, Charlie’s favorite character, the dinosaur detective, discovered that his conclusions were wrong. Isaac put the bookmark in the book as Charlie thumped his pillow angrily. “That’s not fair. He wouldn’t make a mistake like that. It’s written wrong,” Charlie complained.

Isaac placed the book on the shelf. “Maybe he’ll find new evidence in the next chapter and find out he was right after all.”

“Maybe.” Charlie flopped back onto his pillow. “Today just went all wrong. Did you ever have a bad day?’

“Lots of times,” Isaac said. “What happened?”

“I think my lucky socks don’t work anymore. What will I do when I need sun for game days? Or when I have a history test?” Isaac rolled over on his side to look at Isaac through the safety bars on his loft bed. “What am I going to do, Dad?”

Isaac leaned back to look up at Charlie. “It may not be as bad as you think. Tell me what went wrong today.”

“My favorite shoes don’t fit anymore. The red ones. They’re too small now and pinch my toes. I knew right then that it was going to be a bad day, so I put on my lucky socks.”

Isaac nodded. “That makes sense. What happened next?”

“I tried my red shoes on again, but they still didn’t fit. So I put on the blue ones. The laces are too long so I had to knot them over and over, but they still kept going untied. The day was obviously doomed at that point.” Charlie rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling.

“And then?”

“And then Mom and I went out to the garden and something had eaten all the strawberries. Even the little green ones that won’t be ripe for weeks. Who does that?” Charlie sounded confused.

Isaac shrugged. “Something really hungry. It’s still early spring, so not a lot of things are ripe, but there’s still a lot of hungry animals out there that weren’t there in the winter.”

“Oh.” Charlie was quiet for a moment. “So maybe it was starving baby squirrels? I guess if they were really hungry, it wouldn’t be so bad.”

“Did anything else happen?”

“I got a paper cut from my origami paper. It was under my thumbnail, right here.” Charlie held up his left hand so Isaac could see. “It really, really hurt. It started bleeding, a lot. But it all stayed under my fingernail, so I didn’t even get a bandaid.”

“I could go get you a bandaid,” Isaac offered.

“Daaaaad.” Charlie dropped his hand. “I’m not a baby. It was just annoying, that’s all. And there were brussel sprouts at dinner. You know I hate brussel sprouts. And we were all out of grape popsicles. And the chapter in the new dinosaur book was awful. It was just a terrible day.”

“Can you think of anything good that happened today?” Isaac asked.

“No.” Charlie rolled over to face Isaac again. “It was all bad.”

“You can’t think of anything at all?”

“No.” Charlie rolled to face the other way. “Nothing at all.”

“You have a nice family. And a garden. And…” Isaac began.

Charlie huffed and interrupted. “I don’t want to count my blessings. It was a bad day. That’s all.”

“Maybe without the lucky socks, it would have been worse.”

“Maybe.” Charlie laughed a little and turned back to face Isaac. “Maybe the house would have burned down.”

“Then I’m glad you were wearing your lucky socks,” Isaac said. “I like our house.”

Charlie sighed. “I do too. Dad, why did I have a bad day? Was it because I didn’t go to bed on time yesterday?”

Isaac shook his head no. “Sometimes people have bad days. Everybody does. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been trying your hardest to be good, you’ll still sometimes have bad days.”

Charlie sat up, frowning. “But why? That’s not fair. Why would good guys have bad days?”

“If you only had good days, I think you might forget how good they are. They’d just seem like normal days, right?”

Charlie shrugged a shoulder. “I guess.”

“When you have a bad day, and the next day is normal, it seems like a good day because it’s not a bad day. I think bad days help us remember the things we have to be grateful for. And they teach us important things like patience, and empathy, and choosing to be happy.”

Charlie flopped back down on his pillow. “I guess so.”

“And now maybe some baby squirrels are going to bed with full tummies,” Isaac pointed out. “That’s good.”

“I guess so.” Charlie shrugged, and his shoulders made a whispery sound against his bed sheets. “Maybe my socks were lucky for the squirrels today, not me.”

“Or maybe they were just busy keeping our house from burning down,” Isaac said.

Charlie laughed. “Yeah, that too.”

Isaac waited a moment, and stood up when Charlie didn’t say anything else. He crossed the room and turned the light out. “Good night, Charlie. I love you.”

“I love you too,” Charlie said. “I am glad you’re my dad, you know. Even on bad days.”

“And I’m glad you’re my Charlie,” Isaac said.

“Good night, Dad.”

“Good night.”

Charlie’s Room: Too Late?

It was finally time for the release of the latest dinosaur book. The local bookstore was just a few streets from work, so Isaac was planning on picking up a copy of the book on the way home from work. It was so exciting! He had a hard time concentrating at work.

Unfortunately, there was a meeting scheduled an hour before the end of the work day. The meeting wasn’t an hour long. It was three hours long. Everyone left the conference room grumbling.

As Isaac walked to his car, he watched the stores close up. Was it really that late? He walked a little faster, even though he knew that a few seconds wouldn’t make much of a difference. It felt like it took forever to get to his car and drive to the book store.

Fortunately, the bookstore was still open. Isaac hurried inside and looked around the room. The dinosaur display was easy to spot. There was a giant green cardboard dinosaur holding up a banner near a table by the windows.

Isaac hurried over to the table. Sadly, the table was empty. Isaac checked the bestseller shelves and the children’s books. He found some of the other dinosaur books, but not the new one. He went to the customer service desk.

“I’m looking for the new dinosaur book,” he said.

The woman at the desk looked tired, but she smiled anyway. “Did you reserve a copy?” She typed something into the computer. “What’s your last name?”

Isaac felt his hopes crack into tiny pieces. “I didn’t know it was possible to reserve a copy. Do you have any left?”

The woman sighed and shook her head. “They sold out pretty quickly. All we have left are the reserved copies. We’ll get more in stock later in the week. If you give me your name and number, we will call you when they come in.”

Later in the week? Isaac didn’t want to wait that long. Charlie would be so disappointed. And how would they avoid hearing all about the story before they got a chance to read it? Isaac was sad, but smiled anyway. “No thank you.”

He drove to another bookstore. He drove to two department stores. He even checked the grocery store. He couldn’t find a copy of the new dinosaur book.

Isaac drove home feeling discouraged. He could just imagine Charlie waiting for him by the door with hopeful eyes. He didn’t want to see that hope turn to disappointment. But what could he do?

He should have gone to the bookstore at lunch. No, he should have reserved a copy of the book. Maybe it wasn’t too late to try a few more stores?

But he was already late getting home. Dinner was probably already on the table. He couldn’t make Marianne and Charlie wait any longer. Maybe he should have picked up ice cream at the grocery store. That way he wouldn’t be coming home empty-handed. Marianne and Charlie love ice cream. Was it too late to go back to the grocery store? Probably.

Isaac drove home. He went inside, and quietly closed the door. Charlie wasn’t waiting for him by the door. Isaac could hear Marianne and Charlie talking in the kitchen. They sounded happy.

Isaac quietly changed his shoes. He dropped one, and it made a thumping sound as it fell. Charlie’s happy voice called out from the kitchen, “Dad’s home!” He came racing into the entryway.

Isaac took a deep breath. “Charlie, I didn’t get the dinosaur book.”

Charlie smiled. “That’s okay.”

“It is?”

Marianne appeared in the kitchen doorway. “It is. I ordered a copy online, and it came today.”

Charlie and Marianne grinned at Isaac. Isaac smiled back, feeling relieved. It was good to be married to someone brilliant. “Well done,” he said. Marianne’s smile grew just a little brighter.

“So, are you going to read me a chapter at bedtime?” Charlie asked.

“I have a better idea,” Isaac said. “Let’s read a chapter now. And then maybe a few more. We can stay up a bit late. It’s Saturday tomorrow.”

Marianne tousled Charlie’s hair. “Go get your pajamas on. I’ll go get the book.”

Isaac raised a hand to volunteer. “I’ll pop some popcorn.”

Charlie clapped his hands. “It’s a party. A book party! I’ll be right back.” He raced down the hall to his room.

Marianne chuckled. Isaac pulled her into a hug. “Thanks for taking care of that. My meeting went late and everything was just awful for a while,” he said.

Marianne hugged him back, and then they let go with a smile. “No problem. I’ve been looking forward to this too. I’m sorry I forgot to tell you I’d ordered the book.”

Isaac shrugged. “It turned out to be a nice surprise.”

Charlie appeared at that moment, already wearing his pajamas. “Where’s the book? And the popcorn? I’ve been waiting forever for the new dinosaur book.”

Isaac and Marianne hurried to do their tasks, and the book party started soon after. It was worth the wait.

Charlie’s Room: Wishes

It was a few weeks after Charlie’s birthday, and he seemed a little down. He wasn’t as excited about his favorite dinosaur movie or the next dinosaur club meeting. Isaac was a little concerned.

After reading the latest chapter in their book at bedtime, Isaac marked their place and set the book aside. “Charlie, is everything alright?”

Charlie sat up on his bed. “I don’t know. Dad, do you think wishes are real?”

Isaac looked up to where Charlie was perched at the edge of his loft bed. “What do you mean?”

Charlie swung his legs over the side of the bed, under the guard rail, and began to swing them as he spoke. “Oh, you know, like birthday wishes. Everyone says that if you make a wish and blow out all the candles in one breath and don’t tell anyone what you wished for, then your wish will absolutely come true.”

“I’ve heard that too.” Isaac smiled. “I remember that you blew all the candles out so quickly that your mom didn’t have a chance to take a picture.”

Charlie nodded. “I did. I blew out all the candles in one breath and didn’t tell anyone, and my wish still didn’t come true.”

“Hmmmm.” Isaac thought for a moment. “Was it the kind of wish that could maybe come true later?”

“I don’t know. I guess so. But how can I know? I can’t even ask you about it without telling my wish and spoiling everything anyway.” Charlie pulled his legs back up onto the bed and laid back with a flop. “It’s just not fair.”

“I have an idea.” Isaac leaned back in his chair. “What about a guessing game?”

“A guessing game?”

“That’s right. I’ll guess your wish.”

Charlie sat up again and looked down at Isaac. “But won’t that be like telling you what it is?”

“I think it would be okay. You wouldn’t be telling me the wish, just if I guessed right or not.”

“That makes sense.” Charlie laid back down again. “Go ahead and guess.”

“Does it have anything to do with dinosaurs?” Isaac knew Charlie loved dinosaurs, so this seemed like a safe guess.


“Dinosaur clubs? Toys? Movies? Books?”

“No. No. No. No.”

Isaac thought for a moment. What else was important to Charlie? “Does it have anything to do with gardens?”

“Sort of.”

“Dinosaurs in gardens?”

Charlie nodded, and his hair made a swishy sound on his pillow. “Yes.”

“A real dinosaur?”

“Yes. But I didn’t get one. Are birthday wishes just pretend?” Charlie sounded sad.

“Why do you think people make birthday wishes?” Isaac asked.

“Is it supposed to be a fun game? Or something like that?” Charlie replied.

“Birthday wishes are supposed to make us happy,” Isaac said. “Sometimes just imagining getting the wish makes us happier than actually getting the wish would. I don’t think a dinosaur would really be happy living in our little garden.”

“Maybe not. But if he stayed little…” Charlie held his hands a few inches apart.

“Then it would just be a lizard, right?” Isaac chuckled. “When you make a birthday wish, it gives you a chance to think about what you really want most. That’s always the first step in reaching your dreams. Sometimes, that’s enough for you to recognize the opportunity to achieve your dream when it comes your way. Other times it takes a little more work. But, once a year, you have a chance to think about what you really, really want most. And maybe someone somewhere out there is listening in and nudging things in your favor if you can blow all the candles out in one breath. Maybe.”

“Hmmmm.” Charlie was quiet for a little while. “Maybe having a real dinosaur wouldn’t be that great. I don’t think real dinosaurs can talk or solve mysteries or ride in spaceships, not like they do in the movies and books.”

“I haven’t met any, so I can’t tell you for certain, but you’re probably right.”

Charlie sighed. “I should have wished for a lizard. Or that no one in our family had allergies any more so I could get a puppy.”

“I like the no allergy wish. Maybe I’ll wish for that on my birthday.” Isaac stood up.

“Is it too late to change my wish?” Charlie asked.

“The rules don’t say, so I guess that’s up to you.” Isaac turned out the light. “Good night, Charlie. I love you.”

“Good night, Dad. I love you too. Hey, Dad?”

Isaac paused at the door. “Yes?”

“There are some pieces of cake left. Maybe I can try again tomorrow?”

Isaac smiled. “We could probably do that.”