My family is afflicted with bad dinosaur dreams


by Jen Rouse
The Short Years
Oregon writer

We don’t give much thought to dinosaurs, around here.

My girls have never shown a great deal of interest in them–not the science-y kids’ books about different  dinosaur species, not the “Dinosaur Train” TV show–none of it. Other than an occasional read-through of some book or other featuring dinosaurs, they simply haven’t played a major role in our household.

Or so I thought.

It turns out my girls are, apparently, all terrified of dinosaur attacks.

I learned of their phobia this morning, when Beth came into the kitchen and I gave her a hug.

“Hey, sweetie,” I said. “You came into me and Daddy’s room last night and wanted to sleep in our bed. Did you have a bad dream?”

She frowned and pulled her arms tighter around my waist. “Yes.”

“Do you remember what it was about?”

She gave a big sigh, and then said, with her face still pressed up against me. “Dinosaurs.”

“Dinosaurs?” I was a little surprised  We’ve never shown them Jurassic Park, never watched a cartoon that featured dinosaur antagonists, as far as I can remember. I don’t think we’ve even ever given them the idea that some sort of caveman-dinosaur co-existence ever happened (after all, from what I understand about science, there was no overlap between humans and T-Rexes).

“Yes,” she said. “A dinosaur was chasing me, and I was trying and trying to get in my bed and be safe, but I wasn’t fast enough.”

That did sound kind of terrible. I gave her a bigger hug.

Then Lucy piped up. “Yeah, I’ve had a dinosaur dream before too.”

“Really?” I said. Another one?

“Yes. In my dream, it was my birthday party, and a dinosaur was trying to get us. And so we all filed into you and Daddy’s room to be safe, and it was really squishy in there.”

“Really squishy? Oh, because of all the people here for the party?”

“Yes,” she said, pleased that I was getting it. “All my friends and family. And so you went to bar the door, and you did it, so he couldn’t get in.”

This sounds good. Sounds like success.

But she continued, “So he just ripped the roof off.”

I don’t really know what to say to that. “Wow. That one is really awful too.”

And then, of course, Evie has a story.

“I have dinosaur dreams too!” she says. I might think that she’s just trying to come up with a story to top her sisters, except that she actually comes into our room with bad dreams more frequently than anyone, and usually refuses to discuss them. I’m curious.

“What happened in yours?”

“A dinosaur was chasing me, and I was running, and I could run, like, super-super-fast,” she says.

That does sound like the strange bending of reality that happens in dreams. “Okay. So were you getting away?”

“No. The dinosaur could run even super-faster. And the mama dinosaur caught me and took me back to its den, and then it ate me up with all of its babies.”

The other girls all shudder, apparently quite easily able to envision the tiny, blood-thirsty dinosaur babies. Evie grins a little, satisfied that her story has topped them all.

As usual, my girls’ strange little minds are way, way, beyond my comprehension. Where did they come up with this dinosaur fear? What ever gave them the idea that prehistoric reptiles would even want to chase them and rip roofs off houses? And why in the world is it pervasive to all three of them?

And, the biggest question of all: how, how, how, am I going to sleep at night, now that I’ve got visions of super-fast, house-destroying, ferocious dinosaurs with nests of vermin to feed stuck in my mind?

Motherhood. It’s a frightening business.

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