This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year-old daughter Viva, who is personally partial to the Mokèlé-mbèmbé.
Dinosaurs have taken over Chicago. (You thought they were extinct, but life finds a way.) The Field Museum, already our lakeside mecca for fossils and dino-info, is hosting the bone-crunching, mind-blowing Jurassic World: The Exhibition until Jan. 7. Brookfield Zoo is hosting Dinos and Dragons, featuring seventeen animatronic beasties, through Sept. 17. If you want to score some points with the little ones while painlessly filling their heads with learning, these are exhibits you’ll want to take in.
Kids love the towering reptiles that shook the earth in days long past. Parents love their kids. It is likely, then, that your child has already pressed you on what you consider to be your favorite dinosaur. But did you know that your answer provides an insight into your profile as a parent? Decide on your favorite dinosaur (Be honest! Go on … I’ll wait.), then read on as I divine this scaly cipher to your child-rearing predispositions.
Your favorite dinosaur is:
Wow, your favorite dinosaur is the single most popular dinosaur? The one with “King” right in the name?
T.rex is rad, it’s true, but by making it your favorite, let’s face it: you basic. You might have even hopped on the T.rex bandwagon the minute you saw this headline. I have no doubt your ideal day involves Wrigley Field, and as for your parenting: I’ll bet your kids eat regular goldfish and not the bunny ones.
Look, it’s okay. You play it safe. You look forward to a trip to Target. You listen to a lot of Adele. You’re a productive citizen; no need for self-loathing. Your kid will always have the current Disney Princess or Sith Lord on their backpack and will never be made fun of for having quinoa in their lunch or being towed to school behind a recumbent bike. Perhaps it’s better to dance with your child to Taylor Swift rather than teaching them the nuances of Frank Zappa’s catalogue. T.rex is the star of the dinosaur world and you want to back a winner. I look forward to seeing a cupcake you’re about to enjoy on Insta.
Velociraptors are the Jennifer Aniston of dinosaurs. Everyone loved them in the ‘90s, but now we’re not sure why. In the ‘90s, these previously unpromoted dromaeosaurids could suddenly open kitchen door handles to menace cinematic moppets and they could even dribble a basketball in Canada. If you’re still obsessed with raptors, then you’re probably living in the ‘90s as a parent, as well, rocking a Pocket Nanny (Tamagotchis are from the ‘90s, too. I guess electronic pocket tzotchkis were big back then.). Naturally you insisted on Ferberizing your infant — letting them learn that no one in this world will ever truly arrive to comfort them. They “cried it out” in the nursery alone while you shuddered on the other side of their door like a regretful Paul and Jamie Buckman. But, hey, maybe your old “Bananaphone” CD hasn’t delaminated yet!
Triceratops (or Stegosaurus or Ankylosaurus)
These four legged tanks might be vegetarians, but they look like the end product of a cable show called “Pimp My Rhino.” If lumbering herbivores are the cattle of the Cretaceous period, this cattle isn’t going to become a burger without a fight.
Triceratops has the horns and the neck shield, Stegosaurus has those crazy plates and Ankylosaurus is like an attack vehicle with a mace for a tail. Like these bad boys, you also strike fear into the hearts of your enemies when you’re on the defensive. You bring the “Mama Bear” or “Protective Dad” routine to epic levels, and if an altercation on the playground gets nasty, woe betide anyone who tries to take a bite out of you. Do you look like a lunatic sometimes, whipping that tail around to defend your eggs? Sure. Do you charge forward with those horns and sometimes gore a tree instead of an enemy? Absolutely. But no bullying T.rex is going to eat your young or keep you from your salad.
Hang on! Isn’t this dinosaur not a dinosaur anymore? Didn’t it get its credibility card pulled, like the former planet Pluto or those dietary supplement tablets you take before you fly?
ACTUALLY, a 2015 study called this “thunder lizard” a valid species separate from Apatosaurus (the controversy rages on), and that’s why you love it. You love to “Dinosplain” the history of the brontosaurus from its birth as a pastiche of fossils in Wyoming in 1879 to its 21st Century vindication. You don’t even notice everyone’s eyes rolling. This goes to the core of your parenting, too. You’re the armchair parenting expert and dilettante child-development researcher who vocally judges your friends cribs, car seats and cupholders. You text your iPad dependent friends the latest articles on the appropriate amount of screen time. You email your pregnant friends links to the hottest new ways to absorb folic acid. And I get it, I get it, I shouldn’t have put that Bumbo seat on the top of my dining room table with my 6-month-old in it — my emergency room bill has taught me that — but I don’t need you chiding me on my Facebook feed. Go enjoy your fake, not-fake dinosaur. I’ll make my own decisions on co-sleeping.
Well, well, well, aren’t you flashy with your winged swoopy monster?
Flashy is your thing, though, isn’t it? An enormous ancient lizard isn’t enough for you; you have to like one that FLIES. That flashiness defines your parenting, too, as your $1,000 Origami Moxi stroller that folds itself, has headlights, a phone charger and an LCD step counter (to show you how many steps your child isn’t walking) attests. So does your $190 chenille Petunia Picklebottom diaper bag and your child’s birthday escape to St. Barth’s. Next thing you’re going to do is tell me you have “health insurance” and your child can go see a “doctor.” Well, la de dah.
The duck-billed one? Really? Okay. So your heart goes out to the underdog or, rather, the underlizard. Perhaps the Hadrosaur is “geek-chic” now — the reptile version of horned-rim glasses and bowties. You love this nerdy herbivore for having a face like Launchpad McQuack and a mating call like an amorous digeridoo.
In your parenting life you’re focused on social/emotional development, and raising a gentle, empathetic child. Sure, no one likes your favorite dinosaur, but your butterfly garden is filled with vibrant colors, and every little one should know how to compost. The world is as cruel in the era of MAGA and ISIS as it was in the land before time, so don’t we need more parents like you? Your child will thank you for teaching them to make their own hummus, and though the neighbors give you the side-eye for breastfeeding your 7-year-old, we all know they’re in the pocket of big formula.
Fine, fine, you don’t want to like any dinosaur that was one of the five original 1984 Dino-bots. Me, Grimlock, think you too fussy. Dinosaurs are 243 million years old, but you claim to have liked them BEFORE THEY WERE COOL. You turn your nose up at our pedestrian choices in favor of the devil-horned Carnotaurus, which is totally metal, or the Incisovisaurus, a muppet-like buck-toothed chicken, or perhaps Livyatan Melvillei (named after Herman Melville), the whale that ate other whales. You’re so hip you probably also make your child call you “Papa” or “Maman,” send them to toddler DJ school and are testing the new Peruvian “diaper free” child-rearing technique in which your child potties freely through the home until they are self trained by six weeks old. I’ll be over here enjoying my dumb old Triceratops while you and little DJ Umbilical Cord read about the whorl-toothed Helicoprion in your poop-filled loft.
So, you see, your favorite dinosaur isn’t just cocktail conversation, it’s a peek into your soul. We’ll never be sure what color your soul is or whether or not it had feathers, but at least we understand now why your kid is eyeballing the heavens, waiting for an asteroid to hit you.
If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe (free!) to The Paternity Test Comedy Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud, or visit www.paternitypodcast.com.
You can find the Dads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and on Twitter at @thedadtest or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call The Paternity Test on their hotline: (657) BAD DADS and leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast!