It's Better To Remain Quiet Than To Have Your Kids Speak And Prove You're A Fool
Many people enjoy road trips with the family, with parents and children being offered hours and hours of uninterrupted Together Time, during which they have have deep conversations, free from distraction. These lucky people look forward to hearing wisdom flowing from the mouths of babes.
I am not one of them.
I used to be. We take a trip to Disneyland every year, and the best part of the experience was the interaction the lovely Mrs. Fat Kid and I would have with our offspring. When they were little, we were treated to their theories of what clouds were made of (milk) and why Goofy could talk and Pluto couldn't, even though they were both dogs (Goofy can stand upright and wears clothes).
Sadly, all that changed years ago while we were passing through Cabazon, California, one of many desert cities on the road to Disneyland. At the time, the only notable thing about the Cabazon was a pair of dinosaurs gracing the roadside landscape. One was a Sharp Tooth and the other a Long Neck, with the Long Neck (conveniently) doubling as a souvenir shop.
At the time, my oldest was really, really into dinosaurs, so I thought I would engage her in conversation and show her how smart her Daddy was.
"Look, sweetie! A long neck!"
"Daaaaaad...that's not what it's called."
"Ok. Look, sweetie! A brontosaurus!"
"Daaaaaad...that's not what it's called, either. There's no such thing as a brontosaurus."
"Ummm, yeah there is. Fred Flintstone worked on one, and they ate bronto burgers all the time."
"Daaaaaad...there's no such thing as a brontosaurus. What they had called a brontosaurus was really an apatosaurus. They thought it was a new species of dinosaur, but they later figured out they were wrong."
"Well, ummm, OK. Look, sweetie! An apatosaurus!"
"Daaaaaad. That's not an apatosaurus, That's either a brachiosaurus or a diplodocus. You can tell by the slope of the forehead."
"Look, sweetie! Taco Bell!"
Needless to say, that dinosaur beat down left me a little rattled. I had recovered and put the whole ugly affair out of my mind, that is until we actually arrived at Disneyland. While riding the Disneyland Railroad from Tomorrowland to Main Street, USA, we were sent back in time (via the wonders of animatronics) to the Age of the Dinosaur. The kids watched with rapt wonder as we passed through the dark tunnel, riding among pterodactyls, triceratops, brachiosauruses/apatosauruses/diplodocuses. When we got to the final scene, my oldest sat straight up and pointed, shouting "Daddy! That T. Rex is trying to eat that stegosaurus!"
Being the good, nurturing fatherly type, I comforted my princess, telling her "It's OK, honey. It looks like that stegosaurus is holding its own in this fight, so I think the T. Rex will get tired and move on.
While I was patting myself on the back for being such an awesome father, she got even more animated, standing up and still pointing to the carnage. "No! You don't understand! Stegosaurus became extinct, like, 80 million years before T. Rex appeared! A T. Rex would never be able to eat a stegosaurus! We need to talk to Mr. Disney so he can change the ride! Do you think he's here at Disneyland right now?"
It was at that moment that I started to realize that I was out of my league when it came to dinosaur knowledge. Future trips would reveal that I am also woefully ignorant about hermit crabs, the technicals of music, animals, minerals, and urban legends. Previous blog posts have also hinted that I am behind the curve on current theories on how to survive the zombie apocalypse and how the word "no" is verboten.
What's a father to do? Trip after trip, being exposed as a know-nothing by a bunch of upstarts? I did the smart thing. I bought a DVD player for the car.