Dinorarium

Someone once told me that to cure worms you need to wave a torch light in front of your bum at midnight, while holding a Boston bun nearby. Apparently the worm is drawn to the light, but makes his decision to escape your body from the sensational delights of the sweet bun.

I think about this all the time when I see my son scooting around the house. Running, crashing, burning, jumping, smashing, wriggling like a worm. Does my son have worms? Has he been spending too much time with Cheef Dog?

I don’t think it’s worms. I just have a ‘doesn’t-sit-still-asaurus’. A two year old boy who bolts at 150% and then crashes for great lengths, sleeping for sometimes three hours during the day, only to wake up and do it all again. God forbid if you’re not ready to go once you hear the ‘muuuuuummm’ cry from his bedroom.

We usually have activities planned: the park, the beach, the zoo, the street, the creek, the bike track, the boats, the slide, the swings, the neighbour’s garden… you get it. Stuff that doesn’t involve walls or a small, confined space.

Through windows I’ve seen THOSE kids who sit in cafes, sipping their bubbacinos while their parents hold hands under the table while reading The Australian. The last time I held a broadsheet newspaper was when I built a crappy makeshift fort down the side of the house. Cheef Dog peed on it and we had to throw it out. I stare with my face pressed up hard on the glass watching the child sitting still. Not moving, only to use manners and praise the wait staff on the fluffiness of their frothy milk.

So I decided to create a special stay-at-home, ‘sit still’ activity. Something we could do together, calmly, which didn’t involve me climbing to get my kid down from somewhere, or running, or trying to open a fence into a construction site because my son has crawled under the gate.

We built a Dinorarium.

A dinorarium is a dinosaur garden. Actually it can be anything you want it to be. Ours has dinosaurs but also tigers, a giraffe (which we had to make a doodle for… sigh) and an alien.

To make a dinorarium all you need is a wide pot filled with potting mix, or in our case, we had a spare garden bed.

I collected a stack of succulents from the local Buy, Swap, Sell group in a variety of shapes, sizes and weirdness. Most of them are pretty little at the moment, but I reckon once they start sucking up some worm juice and getting some rays, the dinorarium will become a bit of a jungle.

We found a whole lot of plastic dinosaurs and other figurines around the house and added them to the dinorarium, making ‘roars’ and ‘rhars’ along the way. I loved how my son made sure each figurine had something to eat by letting them munch on the leaves and then he would make them do poos in the makeshift toilet (half an old peach pip). It was beautiful how he was able to make little dino adventures up on his own, sometimes involving Cheef Dog, sometimes inviting me to play.

The succulents, with their weird shapes and colours, really did create a fantastsical jungle. And once I peered into the dinorarium using my little eyes, it really was a magical place.

I popped in the house to make myself a cuppa, leaving Alfie to play with his new mini playground. The radio was playing Soul Groove 66 on PBS FM and I sneaked a Tim Tam without having to hide in the pantry and soaked up this moment of pure, sit still bliss. I even did a wee on my own.

I went back outside to see how the kid was doing and I was both laughing and crying (on the inside and out) to see all the plants ripped out and thrown across the yard. I asked him what had happened and he told me that the dinosaurs did it.


I let this one go. I mean, I had had a full hour watching my kid sit still and succulents are hardy plants, right? They’ll grow back…

This article first appeared on Bubba West.

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