Friday, October 15, 2010


A toy dodo has joined our collection of farm animals.  An innocent mistake.  A big squat bird that could be mistaken for a turkey, particularly when shuffled in among the hens and guinea foul.  But the fact is, it's a dodo, and it's extinct. This has made for a great deal of questioning.
My husband and I agree that Max could break someone under interrogation - CIA, FBI, QC - he'll be well suited to any of them when the time comes. Every day he works on his technique. I am usually the witness upon which his tactics are tested. And tested. He simply refuses to drop a line of questioning. Did it all begin with the dead pelican we spotted on the beach that day? How did it die? More recently the subject under examination has been the tram lines along the San Francisco waterfront.  Simply put, there are tram lines, they stopped operating in the fifties and the trams have probably been smelted down into jam jar lids. There's a boarded up tunnel where the engines used to run and in one swift scan of the eye you might think, well there used to be trams here, how things have changed. If, however,  you're a four year old boy with more than a passing interest in vehicles you just might not be able to let these details go.  For example, if there used to be trams, where are they now? Where did the tunnel go? Why's it been boarded up? For that matter, why aren't the trams still working? What did they carry? And where to? Could they ever come back?  These questions had been put to me in a thousand guises.  Basically the truck was more convenient, full stop.  Next, your honour!  And sure enough, just when you are able to sigh with relief that the tram question only comes up every other day rather than every hour, the next subject is just waiting for answers.
Enter, the dodo.
We consult an encyclopedia. I'm determined to get this one early. (Sometimes the internet just provides too much information, too many tangents.) Together we read; 'The dodo was a large flightless bird that lived in Mauritius but was extinct by 1681, due to hunting by man.'  Concise, I like it. Where's Mauritius? We find a map of the world and identify the island speck in the Indian Ocean.  Then, I'm under rapid fire. Extinct means they're all dead? (He's incredulous).  Extinct like dinosaurs? Why were the hunted?  To be eaten? (There's a hint of disgust and surprise as if he's never tasted chicken...) How did they hunt them? Would they use pots to get them? Did they use boxes? Did they use screws?
'Probably spears and guns' I say before my son's bizarre knowledge of instruments of torture make me nervous.
'I think they used guns.' he says.
He is quiet for a moment.
'But why were they hunted? Were they all eaten up...'
Perhaps I should have just pretended it was a turkey.

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