Kiss Your Dinosaurs
This Mother’s day, I’d like for you to know why I love my Mom so much. And why this website exists.
She tells the story that as a small child, before I could even tell time, I knew exactly when it was 4:00. I also knew how to turn on the television. And when I turned the television on at 4:00, I had only precious seconds to race back across the room, to the protection of the sofa, before "it" would appear.
The "it" in this case was the ferocious T-Rex in the opening of "The Land of The Lost". You can watch my fresh hell for yourself at the 1:11 mark here. Don't be fooled - the banjo music only adds to the horror.
Now you must understand the frightening image was a necessary evil; I really loved the show. So I pushed the terror into my stomach as this monster would steer its gaping maw away from the fleeing Marshall family - and run towards me! His roar sending shivers down my still-growing spine. Every weekday at 4:00. Stomach acid and Kool-aid. Terror. Fantasy. Compulsion. This was my lot.
Who knows how many days my Mom watched all this play out in our living room. She seemed content to let the TV show be a TV show; a scary ghost story to out-grow one day. However, her tact changed during a visit to the local five-and-dime store. Walking the toy aisle should have been heaven. But on that day, my beatific vision was blinded when I caught sight of "it". Up ahead, on the bottom shelf was a bin. Full. Of. Dinosaurs.
I was mortified. How did "it" find me here? Was it 4:00 already? Where's the knob, the sofa? Where can I go? WHAT DO I DO??!?
My Mom saw my frozen panic and improvised. She took my tiny, shaking hand, led me closer, and then, picking up a single figurine, she asked, "Why don't you give it a little kiss?". A brilliant option only a mother could concoct. I was terrified - but I trusted my Mom more.
An innocent, awkward little peck was planted. Something shifted. I could now see what fear had been hiding from me. The monster was not alive. No roar. No chasing after me. Just a toy. A fake. It could not hurt me. And like that, the fear was gone, leaving only utter fascination in its wake.
I walked out of that store with a new toy and a new obsession. Dinosaurs became the theme of all my drawings. I read all about them. I learned all about them. What once held me captive now only captivated me. I was free. All because my Mom had a stunning intuition and acted on it.
But we all eventually grow up. We outgrow the toy aisle. We learn that dinosaurs are extinct. We learn that making out with toys isn’t the best way to deal with all the predators that give chase after wading into adulthood. My youthful certitude was run off by new, smarter monsters: doubt, skepticism, self-pity. They would roar out, "How do you know Christianity is true?", "Religion is nothing. Science is everything", “Your parents are too weak and stupid to ask the real tough questions – why would you continue to pay heed to their fairy tales?”.
Once again, I was frozen by fear with no answers to give. Thanks to Mom, I knew enough to trust something more than my fear. I could not abandon the God our family had trusted through the darkest times. That much was settled. The problem, though, was that seeking answers only upset the delicate cease-fire in my mind. So I learned to live a reserved, silent, limping faith – avoiding any interaction that might provoke these treasonous thoughts to roar out again. This was my lot for almost 15 years.
By the time Christmas of 2014 rolled around, I was beginning to suspect my tenuous tight-rope act between doubt and faith might need to come down. Maybe it was time to seriously seek out some answers. I had told no one this – secrets are safety when monsters are involved – which made Mom’s gift even more profound. There, in the box she sent, among all the carefully wrapped contents, lay another brilliant display of her intuition. For reasons she could not completely explain, she thought it would be nice to send me a new dinosaur toy – sort of like the one I got that fateful day in the five-and-dime.
And once again, fear dissipated. Only utter fascination remained. Long story short, I would go on to teach adult classes in Church History and Christian Apologetics - the fruits of my intellectual obsessions.
Mother’s day seemed to be a good time to inaugurate the 25,000,001st blog ever, whose author was once a timid, scared little Christian boy. The picture above is that Christmas gift, a vivid reminder that One who stays closer than a brother is with us. If you trust, have courage, and take His hand, Jesus will be faithful to help you see: these questions, those doubts, that fear - they are all fake and plastic. He is real. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. My Mom, and my Dad, taught me that.
Mothers remember when we cannot. They know what we barely perceive. And when they can't figure it out, they just make it up - and it works. Brilliantly. My mom's insight still exposes the plastic monsters roaring from the glowing screen. Her love still tucks me in these many years later. And I know her devotion keeps vigil even when I cannot see her. Thank you, Mom, for loving me well.
And for showing me how to kiss my dinosaurs.