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What's the saddest thing?

The saddest thing is when your son cries because a dinosaur won’t wake up.

We were reading Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs as one of our bedtime books tonight (a book which, like all the others, goes in and out of fashion). At the end of the book is a page which reads “[There were] very tired and very, very sleepy dinosaurs”. This is illustrated by a picture of a triceratops, eyes closed, and five little babies, also with eyes closed.

Nathan wanted the dinosaur to open its eyes. “Dinosaur. Open eye”, he said, pointing at the mama triceratops (though of course it was something more like “Dinor. Opo eye”), lower lip sticking far out.

Meghan and I told him that the dinosaur was asleep, and that it would wake up in the morning. This did not console him, and he started rubbing his eyes.

We tried to show him the picture one page earlier, of the “hungry dinosaurs” (the triceratops and her babies munching on plants), eyes open, but he immediately turned back and demanded that the dinosaur open its eye. When it wouldn’t, he started to cry.

We tried to talk to him about it, but he just got more and more worked up. We finally stopped talking about it, put the book away, and took him to bed; he has gone to sleep with no apparent trauma.

He’d had a long, busy day; maybe this is something that would have made him sad in the middle of the day, but he’d’ve had the coping mechanisms to deal with it better. Or maybe he’s scared of sleep, and this is how he can express that. Or maybe he’s getting the subtext of the book that’s clear to me as an adult, not just “Dinosaurs, dinosaurs, a long time ago”, but “Dinosaurs, dinosaurs, all died a long time ago”.

Whatever it is, he’s not the only sad one.