Saturday, January 01, 2011

How Sir Gabriel Tamed a Dinosaur

One of Gabriel's Christmas gifts was a toy dinosaur. He loves his dinosaurs, but this initial meeting of boy and dinosaur did not go well.

This dinosaur makes a loud, startling noise when you squeeze it. It's a haunting noise, a sort of baritone squawk, and while making this sound the dinosaur opens its mouth wide, showing a bunch of teeth. Besides this, it looks a little strange: gigantic feet, and a large head with two tiny eyes.

Heck, it gives me the creeps.

So they pulled out this dinosaur and squeezed it, making the awful noise and opening its huge mouth, and Gabriel showed a rare display of fear. He walked backwards towards one of his aunties and said, "No! No! No!" until the dinosaur was rendered invisible.

A week has passed. It is the first day of 2011. Sarah has removed the Christmas decorations and stripped the tree, sadly putting her favorite holiday into storage. We have also been moving around Gabriel's loot, which is considerable. A little farm. A wooden train set. Trucks. Books. And that dinosaur is still knocking around, too.

As much as Gabriel loves his dinosaurs, this one still gave him the willies this morning. He fairly buzzed with contradictory impulses, wanting the dinosaur, and then saying "No!" when he glimpsed its face. "Dinosaur!" "No!" "Dinosaur!" "No! No! No!"

In Gabriel's bedroom there is a beat-up green chair where we sometimes sit with him. Most often, however, the chair is occupied by several of his good friends. Kermit and Miss Piggy are both there. (Come to think of it, Kermit and the chair are a close match, so he is safe from predators there.) Elmo is here as well, and a very charming baby giraffe that is not a celebrity.

Early this afternoon, as we brought him into his room for a diaper change, Gabriel was adamant that the scary new dinosaur be brought out of his toy closet. When we did so, Gabriel pointed to his chair and said, "Sit! Sit! No! Dinosaur sit!"

Shrugging, my wife put creepy dinosaur on the chair among the other creatures and left me to change the boy. Seeding a diaper with powder and getting the wipes set up, I watched him from the corner of my eye. Gabriel would take a step or two toward the dinosaur, and then step back again, keeping a safe distance. Meanwhile he was speaking in his own language, a mysterious argot he understands better than anyone else.

As I stood unobtrusively by the door, Gabriel began introducing the dinosaur to Kermit, Miss Piggy, et al. As he brought each friend over to the dinosaur, he spoke to them about the dinosaur's eyes, face, and big feet, and it was very clear he was explaining to them that they should not be afraid of the dinosaur.

He even assured Kermit that this was a "beautiful dinosaur."

This is usually an invisible process, when one can even manage it: integrating something one fears into a wider perspective and converting the fear.

In this new year, may we all find a way to introduce our demons to what we love, welcoming them into our greater wisdom and compassion.

[Photo: Gabriel on Thanksgiving Day]


Jomon said...

Thank you for giving us all this sweet gift!

Kelly said...

What a wonderful story to apply to our lives.

Cute photo, too!

j said...

what an awesome story :) what an emotionally intelligent kid.

Ji Hyang said...

thank you and thank Gabriel for this wonderful Dharma talk.

Pam said...

I agree with Kelly. A wonderful story that should apply to each of us!

Adam said...

Is it the Toy Story Dinosaur? Because my son got one of those, and it scared of the noise it makes too! He also loves most other dinosaurs. Maybe Rex needs to meet his other dinosaurs too....

Thanks for sharing.

Algernon said...

That's the one, Adam! It's creepy looking, isn't it?

Adam said...

A little creepy yeah! And the voice too. It's just not right!!!!

Corbin doesn't really like any of the animatronic toys either. He has a keen eye for the unnatural maybe...

quid said...

A lovely proverb... we learn from our children.