The paleozoologist could hear her from across the house as he brushed his teeth. Her staccato call was something between a cockatiel’s and a chimpanzee’s and it almost always meant she was angry. Angry at not having eaten enough or having eaten too much or—as was now the case—at being abandoned in her roofless pen.
By the time he made it to the dinosaur’s room, his wife had already picked her up and was rocking the once-extinct juvenile omnivore back to sleep with a “Hush, little dino, don’t say a word…”
“We can’t keep letting her sleep in the bed with us,” he said as she brought the dinosaur back to their room. “It’s not safe.”
“The books say it promotes early bonding.”
“She’s a dinosaur, for Pete’s sake!”
Both the paleozoologist and his wife had been ecstatic the day they brought her home. Oh, look at those little claws. And, Oh my gosh, she’s wagging her tail. And, Did she just roar? I think I heard her roar! But at a certain point the dinosaur had become a point of contention between the couple.
“We’re sleep training her this weekend,” he declared as though his not having said so already were the only thing keeping her awake each night—as though the creature had been patiently awaiting his formal declaration, eager to comply.
“I need to get some sleep,” his wife countered.
“Then I’ll do it!”
“If she’s awake all night,” his wife said. “I’m awake all night.”
The weekend came and went; the dinosaur remained in their bed.
“We’re spoiling her,” he told his wife the following night.
“You know what they say, ‘You can’t spoil a baby dinosaur,’ ” she said as though quoting a well-known proverb.
“I don’t think that’s a thing.”
“It’s just the move,” she said next. “You can’t move across the state without unsettling things. I mean, if we’re both unsettled, what chance does she have?”
The couple looked down at the dinosaur sleeping peacefully between them, sprawled at a diagonal so that she took up half the bed.
“Okay, but I’m going to the couch,” he grumbled. “I don’t want to roll over her in the middle of the night.”
“Oh good, could you take her with you? I really need some sleep.”
The couch was cold. The paleozoologist unfolded the plush throws as best he could with one hand and arranged them over himself and the Mesozoic creature snoozing on his chest. He was reminded then that dinosaurs are warm blooded as the blankets and baby quickly turned the cold living room quite toasty.
He didn’t even realize he’d fallen asleep until she woke him up with a tiny clawed hand to his face as she squirmed and squawked and tried to climb over his shoulder. (To where? He had no idea.) He held her and sang to her until she settled back down. Then she looked up at him, teary eyed and, realizing who was holding her, she reached the soft pads of her fingers up toward his face and grabbed ahold of his nose. He decided then, for reasons obscure and dinosaur-parent specific, that it was all worth it—the late nights and the couch sleeping and the occasional marital spats.
“You have me wrapped around your little finger, don’t you?”
The prehistoric infant just giggled.