There is a dinosaur in my house. It creeps around corners bobbing its head, looking carefully around for potential predators – or prey.
Its arms are curled close to its body, tensely waiting, anticipating being called on to do its dinosaur thing.
It lifts its head and makes cries into the sky, announcing its intentions for a messily-eaten breakfast, calling its supremacy to the primeval world.
The pancake shaped like a tyrannosaurus-rex head did not stand a chance. Only syrup is left as witness to the carnage.
Then the dinosaur starts to vacuum.
It vacuums reluctantly, even resentfully.
It is a dinosaur! Its greatness is surely for more than household chores!
Where is the excitement of the hunt in vacuuming? Where is the thrill of the chase in defeating dust bunnies and wafting dog hair?
Yet, if it is to achieve its goal (screen time) it must complete the odious task. It lurches across the room, calling out in its harsh voice every third step.
Slowly the floor is vacuumed. More or less. It roars in triumph.
I have seen the dinosaur at the grocery store. I have seen the dinosaur on field trips. I know the dinosaur frequently stalks the playground.
I like living with an on-again-off-again dinosaur because it is the Navigator’s way of managing strong emotions.
All kinds of emotions from excitement to nervousness. When I see the dinosaur I know something is going on and, if needed, I can help him understand what he is feeling and why.
Other times it is better to let him dinosaur on his own while he works through whatever is going on.
The dinosaur is the Navigator’s tool. He developed this for himself at a very young age.
Because it is his tool – as opposed to one I or the school have had him adopt – I know there is the ultimate buy-in and understanding of how it works for him.
It is a reliable go-to when he may forget about using other tools or other tools are just not as comfortable for him to use at that moment.
It would be ideal if he was able to develop tools for all his needs. Managing strong feelings through a dinosaur persona is an amazing start.
Tools are helpful and parents use them all the time to help children figure out which is their left and right hands, how to tie their shoes, how to get dressed by themselves.
It is all variations on a theme.
Even better when the child develops the tool himself, because it is his. I imagine him teaching his dinosaur persona to his kids. They will think it is fun, dad playing with them. Maybe they will adopt it as a tool for themselves.
For him, I hope he will use it, as he needs and to the degree he is comfortable, as long as he needs to.