Tag: dinosaurs

A Short Tale About a Lot of Things

Jane sat up in her bed as her mom started to leave the room. “Wait! I need another story.”

Her mom turned with a sigh. “Jane, it’s time for bed. I already read two stories. My voice is tired.”

“I’ll tell you a story.” Jane patted the bed. “Come sit down. Please? It’s a short story. You’ll really like it. Pleeeease?”

With a smile, her mom sat on the edge of the bed. “All right. As long as it’s a short story.”

“It’s going to be short.” Jane cleared her throat. “Once upon a time…”

“Oh, it’s a fairy tale,” her mom interrupted. “Which one?”

Jane frowned. “It’s not a fairy story. There aren’t any fairies. It’s a story about a lot of things. Just listen. No talking.”

“Okay. I’m sorry I interrupted. Please continue your lots-of-things tale.”

“Once upon a time there was a ladder…”

“A ladder?”

“Listen!” Jane looked upset.


“Once upon a time, there was a ladder. It was green and tall and lived on someone’s back porch for when they needed to pick apples or climb on the roof to fix things. If they didn’t need it, they didn’t really look at it, so they didn’t know the ladder was really an alien…”

“An alien?”



“It was an alien. It was studying people and animals and houses and back porches. One day, it was done studying everything, and it was ready to leave. What the ladder didn’t know was that someone was watching. The family dog saw the ladder was going to leave, and he followed him when he left, because the dog was really an alien, too.”

“Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed that.” When Jane frowned, her mom looked embarrassed. “Sorry. Keep going.”

“The dog was an alien, and he called his friends at home to tell them about the ladder alien. But he didn’t know that someone was watching. It was the tree.”

“Was the tree an alien too?”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Of course not. That would be silly. The tree was a dinosaur.”

“Really? Wouldn’t people notice?”

“No. She was in disguise.”

“How did that work?”

Jane shrugged. “It was a big tree. The dinosaur was waiting a long time and watching. When the dog left to follow the ladder, the tree followed the dog.”

“He didn’t notice?”

“He was an alien. He thought some trees could move. And really, some trees can move. So, he wasn’t wrong. Except this wasn’t a tree, really. It was a dinosaur.”

“What kind of dinosaur?”

“Velociraptor. Let me finish!” After her mom nodded, Jane continued. “When the ladder was going to get beamed up on the spaceship, the dog and the dinosaur went too. They wanted a ride home.”

“I thought the dinosaur wasn’t an alien.”

“She wasn’t. Dinosaurs are from earth. They just moved somewhere else. They come back to visit sometimes. The dog and the dinosaur both needed a ride because they lost their spaceships.”

“How did they lose their spaceships?”

“A wizard stole them. He lived in the house they were watching, but they couldn’t get in because of a force field. The ladder didn’t know he was a wizard that stole spaceships. Good thing he hid his spaceship in invisible space.”

“Or nobody could go home.”

“Right. Because the dog and the dinosaur waited a long time to try to get their spaceships back and the wizard’s force field was too strong.”

“Why did he need spaceships?”

“He collected them. He liked them. They’re like big sparkly rocks.” Jane pointed to her windowsill. There was a line of pretty rocks she’d found on various adventures.

Her mom nodded. “That makes sense. What happened next?”

“They went home. The wizard was mad the tree was gone. He planted a new one and used magic to make it grow fast. The end.”


Jane grinned. “I told you it was a short story.” She fell back onto her pillow with a giggle and pulled up her covers. “Good night!”

“Good night, Jane. Will you tell me another story tomorrow?”


Cancelled, as told by Grandpa

Dad was out the door the moment Grandpa came inside. They didn’t even pause to high-five or tell a joke. Dad just mumbled something about a list on the fridge and left.

Grandpa came in and hung up his coat. Lynn and Jim and Neal waited patiently to drag him to the living room. As soon as the hanger was safely back on the rod in the front closet, they escorted him to the couch and sat down around him.

“Did you have any questions about the sleep study for baby Carrie?” Grandpa asked.

“I think this is when they find out she’s really an alien,” Neal said.

“I think she’ll scare them into pretending she’s normal,” Jim said.

They all looked at Lynn. She shrugged. “They may be right. Carrie’s scary.”

Everyone nodded. Even Grandpa.

After a pause, the children looked at him expectantly. Neal folded his arms and frowned. “Grandpa, aren’t you going to tell us a story?”

“What do you want to hear about?”

“Something true,” Lynn said.

“Something scary,” Jim said.

“Something with dinosaurs,” Neal said.

“I can do that.” Grandpa sat and thought for a moment. “But this story will have to go way, way, way back to when I was young. Back then, there were dinosaurs. They fetched our mail and mowed the lawn, and ate annoying house guests. Every house had two or three. But then, something terrible happened.”

Neal looked alarmed. “What happened to the dinosaurs?”

“They were cancelled. But that was only the beginning. Soon, everything was being cancelled. Television shows. Movies. Concerts. Amusement parks. School. Church.”

“You can’t cancel church,” Lynn said. “That’s ridiculous.”

“I wish they’d cancel our school,” Jim said. “We didn’t even get any snow days this year.”

“Why did they cancel everything?” Neal asked.

“Maybe it was a snow storm. A really, really, big snow storm. Maybe it was the ice age. I bet that’s it.” Jim looked at Lynn. “The ice age was real. I could be right.” She shrugged.

Lynn frowned and tapped her chin. “The dinosaurs died a long time before people, so they would be gone first. So, ignoring the part about dinosaurs living with people, maybe everything else happened at different times too. I still don’t know why they’d cancel church, though. Was all the power out?”

“Maybe all the presidents and kings got eaten by sharks. Did that ever happen?” Neal asked.

Jim rolled his eyes. “If everyone was getting eaten by sharks, everyone else would be hiding in the churches and praying.”

They looked at Grandpa.

“Do you want to know what happened next?” he asked.

“Yes,” they said in unison.

“Well, everyone stayed inside their houses. And they didn’t have dinosaurs to fetch their mail or mow their lawns, so they did that themselves. But only when nobody else was around.”

“Were they afraid of being cancelled?” Neal asked.

“Yes,” Grandpa said.

“What did they do about the annoying house guests?” Jim asked.

“They told them to go distance themselves,” Grandpa said. “For their own safety, of course.”

“So what did they do all day?” Lynn asked.

“Oh, they cooked and read books and talked on the phone. They also complained loudly and tried to sneak out of their houses when no one was looking.”

“Did it work?” Jim asked.

“Of course not. There was always someone looking.”

“And then what happened?” Neal asked.

“Then they cancelled the summertime, and it started snowing. Then they cancelled being reasonable, and everyone wanted to buy all the toilet paper. Then they cancelled breathing, and finally, this story was cancelled. Time for bed.”

“That story didn’t have enough dinosaurs,” Neal complained.

“And it wasn’t real at all,” Lynn said.

“It was a little bit scary, though,” Jim said. “But not as scary as Carrie.”

“Nothing is as scary as Carrie,” Neal said. Everyone nodded.

“Do you really think she’s an alien?” Grandpa asked.

Everyone nodded.

Charlie’s Room: Rules

It was summer vacation, so Charlie’s bedtime was a little later than during the school year. After a full day of working in the garden and playing at the park, Charlie was tired and a bit grumpy at bedtime. Unfortunately, as the sun set later and later, Charlie still went to bed while it was light outside.

“It’s not fair. It’s not dark yet. I don’t want to go to bed,” Charlie whined.

“We don’t go to bed by the sun, we go to bed by the clock,” Marianne answered.

Isaac nodded. “If we always went to bed by the sun, think of how early you’d have to go to bed in the winter.”

Charlie folded his arms across his chest and frowned. “I can’t fall asleep when it’s light out, so I may as well stay up.”

“Nice try,” Marianne said. “Go get your pajamas on and brush your teeth.”

Charlie looked at Isaac. Isaac made a shooing motion towards the hall. “Go on. Listen to your mother. You sound tired to me.”

“I’m not tired,” Charlie said loudly. He stomped down the hallway to get ready for bed.

Marianne sighed. “Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a fun parent with no rules, but then I think about what that would really look like, and I change my mind.”

“We are fun parents. We also have rules. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.” Isaac gave her a hug. “I think we’re doing a great job. Charlie is a good kid. He’s just tired. Sending him to bed is what he really needs. He just doesn’t understand that yet. So, as the people with the most life experience, it’s our job to help him out.”

Marianne laughed. “I do wish there was someone around to send me to bed when I’m tired. I guess it’s one of those things you don’t appreciate until you’re older.”

They checked on him and waited as he finished brushing his teeth. Then they said prayers and hugged him and sent him to bed. Isaac sat down to read a bedtime story.

“Now let’s see…” Isaac opened the book to the bookmark and started reading. At the end of the chapter, he closed the book.

Charlie sat up in bed. “Dad, did dinosaurs have rules like bedtimes?”

“Hmmmm.” Isaac put the book on the shelf. “I’m not sure. If they were like the animals around now, then I think so.”


“Remember the geese we saw in the fall?” Isaac glanced at the window and imagined the geese flying in a v-shape across the sky.

“The ones flying south? I guess they had rules. But bedtimes?”

“Animals have times they are awake or asleep. Some are only awake at night, like bats. Some are only awake in the day, like chickens. And some can be awake during both, like cats. I think that cats have to take lots of naps to do that.” Isaac shrugged.

Charlie frowned. “Hey. They go to bed by the sun and not the clock. That’s not fair.”

“They don’t have clocks. And it’s not surprising their rules are different than ours. They have different needs and values. Even people have different rules if they are in different countries or cities or neighborhoods or families.”

“But that’s not fair. I bet all the other kids my age are still up.” He pouted. “Why do I have to have a bedtime in the summer? I don’t have to get up in time for school.”

Isaac smiled. “That’s a good question. Your health is important to your mom and I. You’re still growing and need a lot of sleep. Keeping a routine helps you fall asleep easier and get more restful sleep. Besides, it makes it easier for you to work in the garden early with your mom while it’s still cool outside.”

Charlie flopped back on the bed. “I guess so. I still don’t think it’s fair.”

“When you are older, you can go to bed later if you want to.”

“When I’m a grown up, I’m never going to bed,” Charlie said. “I’ll stay up all night.”

Isaac laughed. “We’ll see.”

Charlie rolled to his side and looked at Isaac. “Dad, it’s hard to fall asleep when it’s light out.”

Isaac thought for a moment. “Have you tried imagining sheep jumping over a fence and counting each one as it jumps?”

Charlie was quiet for a moment. “I can’t do it. Does that really work?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tried it.”


Isaac paused and tried to imagine sheep jumping over a fence. It was harder than he expected. “Okay, forget about the sheep.”

Charlie rolled his eyes. “So what do you do to fall asleep?”

“I tell myself stories. I imagine that I was there when something amazing happened in history. Or I imagine visiting places in stories I’ve read. Or I imagine what the future will be like.”

Charlie rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He was quiet for several minutes. “I can do that,” he said at last. “But I still think bedtimes are unfair.”

“Just wait until you’re older,” Isaac said.

“Good night, Dad.”

“Goodnight, Charlie. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Charlie’s Room: The Parrot

There was a training at work, so Isaac would be going into work late. It was strange to see Charlie off to school and Marianne off to an appointment and have the house to himself. When was the last time that happened?

The house was quiet and still. The sunlight pouring through the windows painted a stark contrast between light and shadow. It was the kind of morning where he felt as though if he listened close, he’d be able to hear the music that was always just beneath the surface of everything.

He sat still, listening, and he could almost hear it. He leaned forward and listened more closely. Just when he was sure he’d heard a few notes, someone started yelling outside, breaking the silence.

“Help, help, help.” The voice was loud, but it sounded high-pitched, like a child’s voice.

Isaac raced to the front door and threw it open. He looked left and right. The street looked deserted. The neighborhood was quiet in the middle of the day, when everyone was at work or school or somewhere else. “Hello?” He shivered. It was cold, and he could see his breath.

“Help, help,” the voice called again. It was across the street and to the left. Was someone behind the oak tree?

Isaac stepped back inside to pull on his coat and quickly change his shoes. He crossed the yard, the snow crunching under his shoes and sparkling in the sun. “Is someone there? Do you need help?”

“Help, help, help.” The voice was right overhead.

Isaac looked up into the knot of bare branches. Was that a flash of green? “Hello?” he said again.

“Help, help. Get me a taco!” A bright green bird stepped out of the shadows and onto a branch. A parrot.

Getting the parrot out of the tree and finding its owner wouldn’t be easy. Isaac glanced at his watch. He had forty-five minutes. He took a deep breath. He could do this. He couldn’t leave the parrot outside in the cold. It wouldn’t last long.

Twenty minutes later, Isaac was running out of ideas. The parrot didn’t want bread or cereal or lettuce or apples. It didn’t want to fly down and snuggle into a warm blanket or through the open door into his house. It didn’t want to investigate the parrot videos on his phone.

“Help. Get me a taco!” the parrot said sadly. It flapped its wings and fluffed up and somehow looked miserable.

Isaac sighed. He had one idea left, but it seemed a little ridiculous. Unfortunately, the other options hadn’t worked, and he was running out of time.

He started to whistle a happy, lilting tune. The parrot cocked its head to the side. He whistled the tune again and reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a paper-towel wrapped parcel. The parrot watched closely as he unwrapped the paper towel and held up a taco.

The parrot flew from the tree and landed on his shoulder. “Get me a taco!” the parrot proclaimed, and then it began to peck at the taco shell. Isaac walked carefully back to his house, crunching across the icy snow and whistling the taco song from the recent dinosaur movie one more time.

Once inside, Isaac made a nest of towels in the bathroom next to the heat vent. He put the taco in a pie tin next to the nest and the parrot hopped down to continue crunching on its treat. He brought a dish of water to leave next to the pie tin. He left the light on and closed the bathroom door.

Isaac texted Marianne about the parrot and left for work. He checked his watch as he packed up his things. It was five minutes later than he’d wanted to leave, but somehow he arrived to the training just in time.

When Isaac arrived home after work, Charlie met him at the door. “Dad, guess what? There was a parrot here that could whistle the taco song from the dinosaur movie.”

“Isn’t he still here?” Isaac asked.

“No, mom found his owner. He really likes the dinosaur movies, too, just like we do. And tacos.”

“I guessed that,” Isaac said. “Was the parrot all right? It was really cold outside.”

“He seemed fine to me. Can we get a parrot?”

A pet that could escape and fly away? Isaac wasn’t sure he was ready for that. Maybe they could start a little smaller. “What about a pet rock?”

“Daaaaaaad.” Charlie didn’t look impressed. “Well, if I can’t get a parrot, could we invite that parrot to our dinosaur club? I think he’d fit right in.”

“We’ll see. I think he’d have a hard time participating in the activities.”

Charlie thought for a moment. “Maybe you’re right. Oh well. I can’t wait to tell Thomas about him. I didn’t know that parrots are so cool. Almost as cool as dinosaurs!”