The brightness of the children’s smiles hardly compare to the sparkle of their eyes as they begin to enter the woods covered in moss and large tropical plants. They chatter excitedly about what they are going to see. As the trees crowd the sunlight out their running slows to a walk. When the first growl reaches their ears they stop and look back questioning.
My husband and I know about this exhibit and stroll leisurely behind the anxious crew. When they look back at us we urge them forward knowing what is waiting ahead.
Their tentative steps take them around the first corner and suddenly a 7 foot dinosaur raises its head and bellows at the small children. Several of the kids stop and a few run back to us. The looks on all their faces is a healthy combo of fear, wonderment and excitement.
We urge them forward again and almost have to drag or push a couple and without warning a 6 foot dinosaur seems to lunge and spits a small stream of water at the shocked children. Horror grips one and she screams to go home.
The DinoTrek exhibit is new at our zoo and it’s filled with animatronic dinosaurs that are life sized. As adults, my husband and I fully grasped the theory knowing dinosaurs are extinct and these are nothing but large expensive toys. The children in their immature experience and imagination don’t fully realize it for a while.
Even as we continued past a growling Megasaurus, a friendly Brachiasaurus and a menacing rope bridge beside a roaring T-Rex they are uncertain and teeter between being scared and having fun. (disclaimer: dinosaur names possibly misspelled and misidentified because I am a mom and not a paleontologist)
What a lesson for us even as adults. The things in life we don’t understand can be scary as we face them. Our own lack of knowledge and our creative imaginations can get the best of us sometimes. It’s not until we make the commitment to keep moving forward with the faith that we will be ok at the end that we realize our dinosaurs aren’t as scary as what we thought. It’s when we face that fear and take that stream of water and dance in it rather than run from it that we understand we are stronger than we first thought.