dino frogWe found a frog in the garden. A big, green Calavaras-county style bullfrog hiding under the straw.

“Mom, he reminds me of a palaeobatrachus. That’s a dinosaur that was an amphibian. A dinosaur frog. Frogs are amphibians, you know. They live in the water and on land.” He continued, “Mom! I discovered a lot about frogs. They’re slimy because of the water, and they have feet like a duck. That’s how they swim.”

I googled this fact. Not the part about the duck–about the paleo-frog I couldn’t spell. He was, in fact right, down to the last detail I couldn’t understand.

This is serious. I think he might get locked in a gym locker earlier than I previously expected–do they have gym lockers in kindergarten?

He tells me lots of facts–math facts, obscure facts from the dawn of man, geo-facts, and he carries a little piece of shale in his pocket with a leaf fossil. Or a crinkle in the rock. We want to think it’s a leaf fossil. He’s been digging intently to find more for three days.

“Be careful, you’re going to dig to China, and I didn’t get your passport yet.” I said.

“MOM! You CAN’T dig to CHINA! You would only dig to molten rock and lava. That’s what’s at the center of the Earth.” Point well taken.

“How do you know this?” Inquiring minds want to know.

“Because I am a Man of Science.” Indeed.

He loves his class and his friends. He has just one critique. “School is boring, I just want to play.” Fair enough.

“Let’s do your math first. We have to draw the circles near this problem.”

“I don’t need the circles. That’s for babies. I know how to add the numbers.”

“Let’s check.”  I put a handful of plastic dinosaurs onto the table. “How many dinos?”

“17.” Correct.

“If I take eight,” I do not touch them, “How many will there be?”

“Nine,” he says.  Nine is correct. He’s doing better than Wall Street.

What if school were all about dinosaurs. What if we added dinos, subtracted dinos, talked about how dinos interacted with people and how we have dino shows today? We could graph the extinction pattern, project meteors throughout space, and classify geo-material I can’t spell. I’d learn too, though. Bet he’d never be bored. What if we could do that for every kid? I think about that a lot lately.

Yes, my kid’s a giant nerd–he reminds me of my friend’s kid when he was the same age, but his thing was robots, and he didn’t get locked into a gym locker. He’s in high school now. But if Declan isn’t as lucky, I feel confident that when he gets let out, that in twenty years he’ll fire the people who put him in.

And that is what life is all about.