Tag: dinosaur

Charlie’s Room: Missed Opportunity

Charlie was waiting by the door when Isaac got home. Before the door closed behind him, Charlie had already hurried forward and was waving a sheet of paper half an inch from his nose. “Dad, look at this!”

Isaac leaned back and took the paper. “Careful. I don’t want a paper cut on my nose.” He looked over the paper. “Is this the club list for next year?”

Charlie nodded. “It’s time to pick the club we want to be in after school next year, but we can only pick one.”
“Are you having a hard time choosing which one you want?”

“Yeeeeees.” Charlie sighed. “Mom says I should just pick whatever club my friends are in. But I have lots of friends, and they all want to be in different clubs.”

Isaac handed the paper back to Charlie and changed his shoes. “Are there any clubs you don’t want to join?”

“I don’t want the art club or the running club,” Charlie said, looking at the paper.

“Let’s get a pencil and lightly cross those out.” Isaac went through the living room to the alcove where his desk sat between the living room and kitchen. He took a pencil from the drawer and handed it to Charlie.

Together they traced their steps back to the living room. Isaac sat on the couch. Next to him, Charlie knelt in front of the coffee table and set his paper down. He looked through the list and crossed out the two clubs.

“What next?” Charlie asked.

“Tell me what you like about the other choices.”

Charlie held up the paper. “Hmmmm. I like the cooking club because I like to help you and Mom cook. And maybe we’ll get to eat what we make. I think the computer club plays video games sometimes. The board game club would just be fun. And the Lego club? I love Legos. And did you see that there’s a dinosaur club?”

“It sounds like there are a lot of fun choices.”

Charlie set the paper down with a sigh. “Too many. Why can’t I do more than one?”

Isaac laughed. “Sometimes life is like that. Sometimes you have to make choices when all options sound good.”

“But how do you choose?”

“That’s really up to you.” Isaac picked up the paper and looked at it. “Maybe you could pick something you don’t get to do at home. Learning something new can be fun.”

Charlie took the list back. “I guess I already belong to a dinosaur club. And my dinosaur club is the best club ever. I can ask my friends what they do in the school club, and if they have any good ideas, then I can just copy them.” Charlie crossed out the dinosaur club.

“Good plan. What else?”

“We can cook the cooking club recipes at home. And play the same games. I can play with Legos whenever I want.” Charlie began crossing more things off.

Isaac looked over his shoulder. “Well done. There aren’t many options left.”

“If I sign up for band, I’d need to get an instrument.” Charlie’s pencil hovered over band.

“We could do that,” Isaac said.

“But if I sign up for band, I can’t be in the robotics club.” Charlie frowned. “Dad, did you ever have to make a decision like this?”

Isaac thought for a moment. “Once I had a friend who lived far away on an island. He wanted me to come visit, but I knew it was kind of hard to travel there and back. I was worried about getting home if I went, so I never visited.”

“Never?” Charlie looked surprised. “But how was that choosing between two good things?”

“I stayed home, and I was safe,” Isaac said.

Charlie raised an eyebrow. “That’s not the same thing at all. He looked back at his paper. If I choose band, could I play the clarinet?”

“Of course you can,” Isaac said. “I think that’s a great choice. Why don’t you go let your mom know, and I’ll start checking the ads for used clarinets.”

Charlie grinned and ran out of the room. His shadow broke into two figures as he left the room, and one figure stayed behind. It put its hands on its hips.

“Hi, Peter,” Isaac said.

“I heard you telling a story about me,” Peter said. “But you made it so boring. You’ve gotten so old, Isaac.”

Isaac grinned. “And you’re so little now. Remember when I was shorter than you?”

Peter laughed. “You were tiny. Now you’d fit in with the pirates. Do you want me to see if they have an opening?”

“No, thank you.”

“You’re missing out. We have a lot of fun.”

Isaac looked around the living room. “We have a lot of fun here too. I think I’ll choose to stay here again.”

The shadow shrugged its shoulders. “If that’s what you want.” The shadow slowly disappeared. Isaac took out his phone and started to search for a used clarinet.

Charlie’s Room: Just Charlie

When Isaac returned home from work, Charlie was waiting for him by the door. Isaac smiled at him as he changed his shoes. “Hey, kiddo. What’s up?”

Charlie scuffed the toes of his shoes against the carpet. “I need help with my homework.”

Isaac hung his coat up. “Okay. I’m ready now. Lead the way.”

He followed Charlie down the hall to his room. Charlie turned his desk chair around and sat down. Isaac pulled the chair by the bookshelf over and sat facing him.

“I’m supposed to write about what I want to do when I grow up.” Charlie picked up a paper off his desk and turned it to face Isaac. The assignment written on it was just as Charlie reported.

“You mean like a bucket list? Things you want to do before you die?” That sounded like a fun assignment. Someday Isaac wanted to sit down and write a list like that. The challenge would be to narrow it down to the things you really, really wanted to do. There were just so many interesting things in the world, and not enough time to see and try them all. Read More

Charlie’s Room: The Invitation

When Isaac was getting ready for work, he found a small piece of paper in one of his shoes. It said: You’re invited to a Dinosaur Party in Charlie’s Room after dinner. Bring this ticket to get in.

At the bottom of the ticket, there was a squiggly drawing of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It looked very festive. Isaac was thrilled to be invited to a party and left for work with a smile.

Work seemed to go especially slow in the way that it always does when there’s somewhere else he’d rather be. Isaac kept losing track and had to reread emails and important documents several times. However, he did his best and somehow made it through the day.

Outside, it was freezing cold. Isaac had parked a block away, which wasn’t too far. He pulled his gloves out of his pocket, and a piece of paper fluttered to the ground. It was the ticket to the dinosaur party.

Just as Isaac leaned over to pick it up, a nearly-invisible wind sprite dashed by in a gust of wind. It picked up the ticket and ran away grinning madly, its feet barely touching the ground. Isaac chased after it, and the wind sprite began to leap higher and higher. It grasped the edges of the ticket and used it a parachute to glide on the air currents.

Isaac ran faster and faster. He lunged forward and almost managed to catch the sprite. It dropped through the bars of a storm drain and fluttered to the bottom, out of reach. The wind sprite hugged the ticket to its chest and laughed a hissy, sighing sort of laugh.

The sprite obviously wanted to keep the ticket, but Isaac needed that ticket to get into the party. He patted his pockets to see if there was anything he could offer in trade. He found an old shopping list with the entries all crossed out.

Storing his gloves in his pocket, he began to fold the list. He quickly formed a decent paper airplane. He balanced it in his hand, then gave it a trial toss. It flew out of his hand and landed a good distance away.

The wind sprite watched the airplane with wide eyes. Isaac left to retrieve it. He tossed it so that it flew past the storm drain a few more times. The air was still and waiting.

The sprite held the ticket a little more loosely as its eyes tracked the flight of the paper airplane above the grate. Finally it flew up out of the grate with a puff of wind that knocked the plane out of the air. It crashed to the ground nearby.

The wind sprite dropped the ticket and darted over to the plane. Holding it out in front, the sprite ran with the wind. The planed lifted up higher, and the wind sprite jumped on and flew away in a wild wave of wind.

Isaac ran towards the ticket, certain that it would be carried away too. But he couldn’t see it fluttering away. In fact, he couldn’t see it at all. He looked all around, in a wide circle, and then returned to the spot where he’d last seen it.

Had that rock always been there? It blended into the sidewalk so well that he hadn’t noticed it before. Looking closer, he could see the edge of the ticket poking out from under the rock. He tried to pick up the rock and move it to the side, but it wouldn’t budge.

Somehow, he knew the rock wanted to keep the ticket, but Isaac needed that ticket to get into the party. He checked his pockets again, shuffling around his gloves with cold hands. He pulled out a penny. This might work.

“Look,” Isaac said. “This was once a rock. Now it is shiny and decorated. Look what it can do.” Carefully, Isaac spun the penny. It managed a few turns on the side walk before flopping over. “This is a real treasure.”

Isaac set it next to the rock. “I’ll just leave it here and look over there for a minute.”

When Isaac looked back down, the penny had disappeared under the rock. The ticket was sitting on the sidewalk, looking only slightly crumpled. He picked it up quickly.

He held onto the ticket tightly and walked quickly to the car, not even stopping to put on his gloves. He shut it into the glove box, started the car, and turned on the heat even before putting on his seatbelt. It took a while for the car to warm up and a little longer for his hands to feel warm.

When he got home, he opened the glove box and was relieved that the ticket was still there. He kept it next to his plate at dinner, where he could keep an eye on it. Luckily, it didn’t go anywhere.

Isaac still had his ticket when it was time for the dinosaur party. He was an old shopping list and a penny poorer, but he didn’t really mind. The party was worth that and more. They had a lot of fun playing dinosaur games and acting out their favorite part of the dinosaur movies and drawing happy dinosaur pictures. It was the best dinosaur party Isaac had ever attended.


Charlie’s Room: Flying Brooms

Halloween was over, but Charlie’s costume was still hanging in his closet. “I can be a dinosaur all year,” he said. “Not just on Halloween. Dinosaurs can be part of any holiday. I can be a dinosaur on Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years… It’s not like vampires or pumpkins or witches. Those are just for Halloween.”

Isaac put the book he was reading on the shelf. “It’s good that you picked such a versatile costume.”

“Yeah. It would be different if witches and wizards were real, though.” Charlie snuggled into his pillow. “If they were real, I’d get a flying broom for my costume and I’d use it every day, not just holidays. Do you think they’d ever invent flying brooms?”

Isaac settled back into his chair. “I’m not sure about flying brooms, but I saw a flying vacuum cleaner once.”

Charlie laughed. “Dad, that’s just silly. There’s no such thing as flying vacuums.”

Raising an eyebrow, Isaac asked, “Did you want to hear the story or not?”

Charlie stopped laughing. “Please tell me the story. I’m sure it’s five hundred percent true. Maybe even six hundred percent.”

“Let’s not get crazy. It’s only two or three hundred percent true.” Isaac and Charlie laughed, and then Isaac sat up a little straighter in the chair. “It all happened a long time ago on a dark and stormy night. I was driving home from a business trip, but it was raining so hard that I could barely see the road.”

“How long ago?” Charlie asked.

“I don’t know. Several years at least,” Isaac said. “You weren’t in school yet, and I called you to tell you goodnight before I started driving.”

“So what happened?”

Isaac tapped his cheek with a finger. “Let’s see. The rain was pouring down and it was scary. I had to drive really slow so I wouldn’t drive off the road, and I couldn’t even tell if there were any other cars on the road. I knew I couldn’t keep driving like that.”

“What did you do? Charlie asked. “Did you find a place to stay? A hotel or a haunted house or something?”

“I decided to pull off to the side of the road and wait until the storm calmed down.” Isaac looked out the window. Moonlight glowed from a clear sky, so different from the storm he was describing. “Rain hammered on the roof of the car and the wind shook it. The sky lit up briefly, followed by the crack of thunder. Luckily, I was safe and dry in my car. I felt like I was all alone in the middle of the woods and that there was no one for miles and miles around. In some ways it was oddly peaceful.”

“There is a distinct lack of flying vacuums in this story,” Charlie said. “I feel cheated.”

Isaac laughed. “I’m getting there. As I said, I was in the middle of a terrible storm, but I felt safe and warm and peaceful, and so I fell asleep.”


“Really. And when I woke up, the storm was gone and the sky was clear, and a full moon was shining down, just like tonight.”

Charlie scooted to the edge of his bed to look out the window. “Wow. That’s pretty.”

Isaac nodded. “It is. And as I looked around, I realized that I must have made a wrong turn somewhere, because I had no idea where I was. So, I started my car and made a U-turn. And, as I paused, looking down the road to see if there were any turns ahead, something flew across the road, high enough to brush through the treetops.”

“Was it…?”

Isaac nodded. “That’s right. It was someone riding a flying vacuum cleaner. I only saw it for a few seconds, but I’m certain that’s what it was. The person riding it was all bundled up in a yellow raincoat with a matching hat, so I don’t know what they looked like, but the vacuum glowed in the light of the moon, and even from inside the car, I could hear it making that vroomy sort of vacuum sound.”

“But it wasn’t plugged in!” Charlie protested. “That doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t have been making any sounds.”

“It shouldn’t have been flying either, I guess, if you go by what normal vacuums do,” Isaac pointed out. “But, it was flying and vrooming, like a big metal purring cat. If big metal purring cats could fly, of course.”

Charlie laughed. “That’s so silly. I would like a flying broom, though.”

“I think it sounds a bit uncomfortable,” Isaac said.

“I’d add a bicycle seat, I think.” Charlie settled back under his blankets. “But since there aren’t any flying brooms, I’m glad I dressed up as a dinosaur. That’s what I’ll be thankful for at Thanksgiving.”

“You can be thankful for lots of things at Thanksgiving.” Isaac stood up and turned out the lights. “We can make a list later.”

“Okay. ‘Night, Dad. I love you.”

“Good night. I love you too.”

Charlie’s Room: Remote Control Airplane

It was the weekend before Halloween, and Charlie was trying on his costume again. He padded into Isaac’s room in his green dinosaur socks and checked the mirror on the back of the door. “Dad, I think the eyes are the wrong color.”

Isaac looked up at the dinosaur head hat perched on Charlie’s head. “What color are they? I can’t tell from here.”

“They’re blue. But in the dinosaur movies, all the dinosaurs have brown eyes.” Charlie frowned. “Do you think we could paint them?”

Isaac looked at the inexpensive cloth costume and shrugged. “You could ask your mom. She’s the artist in the family. Does it really matter?”

Charlie’s eyes widened. “Of course it does! It matters a lot, because…” Charlie thought for a moment. “Well, it just does.”

“It will be dark out when you go trick-or-treating,” Isaac pointed out.

Charlie brushed this aside with a wave of his hand. “I can wear my costume to school on Halloween for book character day. It will be light out then.”

“Book character day?”

Charlie nodded. “We dress up as our favorite book character and bring the book in to share. I’m going to bring in The Dinosaur Detective.”

“And you’re worried your friends will notice the eye color is wrong?”

Charlie looked down and scuffed his toes against the carpet. “I noticed, didn’t I?”

Isaac chuckled. “But dinosaurs don’t have human faces looking out from under their heads.”

“I can’t help that. We aren’t allowed to wear masks.” Charlie looked back to the mirror and frowned.

“Your mom will think of something if it’s really important to you. She’s pretty amazing that way.”

Charlie smiled. “Okay. Hey, dad? Did you know that Thomas said his mom trades him a book for his Halloween candy.”

“That sounds nice. Did you want to do that too?”

“Maybe.” Charlie shrugged. “I like candy. Could I still have a little bit? Five or ten pieces? And could I have a remote control airplane instead of a book?”

“A remote control airplane? That costs a lot more than a book.”

“I don’t have to keep any of the candy,” Charlie said hastily. “Not even one piece. Please?”

“Our neighborhood is full of remote-control-airplane-eating trees. It wouldn’t last long.”

Charlie turned completely away from the mirror and clasped his hands and widened his eyes. “Pleeeeease? I’d only fly it at the park. I’d get lots of fresh air that way. And exercise! That’s really good, right?”

Isaac sighed. “I’m not sure how much exercise you’d get flying a remote control airplane. I think it’s the airplane that would be doing all the exercise. But, I’ll see.”

Charlie grinned and hugged Isaac tightly. “Thanks, Dad.”

That evening, after dinner, Marianne and Charlie were painting the eyes of the dinosaur costume when Isaac left for the store. Remote control airplanes were indeed expensive. But, on a bottom shelf, in a ripped and taped-up box, Isaac found a remote control flying saucer. It cost about as much as a book.

He checked to make sure he could return it if it didn’t work. And then, pleased that his search was over so quickly, he bought it and returned home in time to admire the more accurate costume and read to Charlie before bed.

Once he was asleep, Isaac took the flying saucer out for a test run. The backyard was dimly lit by the streetlights out front and the light streaming from the kitchen window. He opened the box. Did it need batteries? He checked the remote control. To open it, he’d need a screwdriver. It would be easier to turn the thing on and see if it started.

He turned on the remote control, but couldn’t find an on switch on the saucer. Or a place for batteries. It had some damage along one side, but he could fix that with his soldering gun and some wire and match it to the opposite side.

Isaac turned off the remote control and took the flying saucer to the garage. He carefully made the repairs, matching the side he was working on to the rest of the machine until it looked as good as new. He stepped back to admire his work, and the lights around the edge of the saucer lit up.   It rose in the air, hovered above his workbench, and disappeared.

Isaac glanced over at the useless remote control and empty box. Well, there was nothing else to be done. He drove back to the store and bought a little remote control car that could do flips. Charlie could play with that in the driveway or maybe even the kitchen on rainy days if Marianne agreed to it.

He took it to the garage and tested it out. It worked fine, and only when he used the remote. Good. Now to tell Marianne about their new Halloween plans and the Great Candy Swap. Maybe she would know what to do with a Halloween’s trick-or-treating worth of candy.

Charlie’s Room: Museum Trip

“We’re going to the art museum today,” Marianne said.

Charlie and Isaac looked up sleepily from their bowls of oatmeal. The dinosaur movie marathon had run a little late the night before. Charlie shrugged. “Okay.” He picked a raisin out of his oatmeal with his fingers.

“Use your spoon.” Marianne handed him the spoon and raised an eyebrow, waiting until he took the spoon with a sheepish grin.

Isaac yawned. “What’s at the art museum?”

“There’s an exhibit of some work by one of my favorite artists.” Marianne retrieved a postcard from the counter and handed it over. “That just came in the mail a few days ago.”

Isaac turned over the postcard. “A miniatures artist?”

“She creates tiny, lifelike sculptures. I always wanted to build a whole world for them or at least fill a dollhouse with them.”

Charlie looked skeptical. “And then what?”

“I’d play with them, of course.” Marianne grinned. “I would make up stories about the little people and animals, and they’d live epic lives. I’m sure I’d also spend hours admiring the workmanship.”

“So, the art museum today.” Isaac nodded. “Sounds fun. Should we pack a lunch?”

“I’ll pack it.” Charlie set down his spoon and pushed out his chair.

Marianne held onto his chair. Charlie looked up as she pushed the chair back in. “Not so fast. You haven’t finished your breakfast. Eat a little more, or you’ll be hungry later. I’ll pack the lunch.”

Isaac laughed. “I think that’s a good idea. Last time Charlie surprised us with lunch, we got jam and potato chip sandwiches.”

“I thought it would taste better than it did.” Charlie frowned.

“It was an interesting idea.” Isaac smiled. “I just think you’re apprenticeship in the kitchen needs to last a little longer.”

“I’m not ready to be a kitchen master?” Charlie giggled.

“Not yet.”

A few hours later, they were at the art museum. The miniatures really were as amazing as Marianne had said. Isaac marveled at a tiny fawn. “Did you see this one?” He asked Marianne.

She hurried over with her camera. She asked at the front desk, and they said she could take pictures as long as she didn’t use her flash. She was taking pictures of everything. Sure enough, after she exclaimed over the little fawn, she took a picture or three. “It’s all so amazing! Look at the swans over here. I think three of them could fit on a dime!”

“Dad, come see this!” Charlie grinned and waved him over. “They have dinosaurs! I want something like this in my room.”

Isaac looked at the detailed, tiny dinosaurs in a small, strange, almost tropical environment. “That is neat. It’s too big to fit on your desk, though. And I have no idea how to make tiny dinosaurs.”

Charlie nodded and thought for a moment. “Maybe they have some at the gift shop.”

Marianne joined them and took a few pictures. “Look at that little spider. It looks so delicate and pretty. Did they have giant spiders at the time of the dinosaurs?”

Charlie leaned in closer. “I don’t know. It looks like it could be a pet for that brontosaurus. That’s pretty neat. Please take a picture of it so I can look it up when we get home.”

Marianne took a few more pictures. “Charlie, did you see the little garden?”

“No, where is it?” He looked around the room.

“This way. You have to see what she did with the bean plants. They’re climbing the cornstalks.” Marianne led the way across the room.

Isaac looked back down at the dinosaurs. Were there giant spiders at the time of the dinosaurs? It’s funny how he never really thought about prehistoric insects. Of course there had to be insects then too, but what did they look like? Were they like sharks, unchanging while the world around them adapted?

Perhaps the artist was right and they were just a bit larger, making it easier to fit into a world that seemed larger than life. He leaned in closer in order to see the details better. It really was amazing. It looked real.

The spider moved, and Isaac jumped. The spider skittered away and hid under a tiny stegosaurus. Isaac laughed. Despite the context, this was definitely a modern spider.

He still wanted to know more about ancient spiders. When they got home, he and Charlie needed to look through their dinosaur books again. He smiled and joined Marianne and Charlie who were still carefully examining the miniature garden. Museums certainly were educational.