My Son & I Reunited Lost Dinos with Their Human
On the importance of living our lives like a work of art
Playing at the park one day, my then three-year-old son struck literal toddler gold: he discovered two large, very fierce looking dinosaurs floating forlornly in the shallow pool atop a mini waterfall in one of the park’s water features for kids.
My son sat happily in the water for close to an hour, enjoying his new found Cretaceous companions as if they were the only three “people” in the world. I asked passersby if they had lost their dinosaurs, but with no luck.
When we were ready to leave, no one had come to retrieve the prehistoric creatures, so I agreed to take them home, with the understanding that we would do our best to get them back to the child who had lost them.
But how? It’s not like they had a microchip or could tell us their address. Hundreds of children play at this park everyday. Then I had a silly, but kind of brilliant idea.
Have you ever seen a whimsical graffiti tag or funny passive-aggressive note left by a public comedian that caused you to sigh in admiration and think, “I wish I’d thought of that! Someday I will do something cool like this, too.” But you have to have the idea, the creativity, the time, and the daring to actually pull these things off.
At last, here was my chance!
That evening, once my son was in bed, I created the above flyer, complete with an embarrassing and unfortunate spelling mistake that I somehow neglected to correct even though it is clearly underlined in red. Alas, spelling has never been my forte.
Nevertheless, I was amused and pleased with my efforts, so we returned to the park the next day to post our flyers. I thought, if nothing else, this little adventure has given me a laugh, and maybe it will make a few park patrons smile as well while they sit in the sweltering Atlanta heat trying to keep an eye on their kids.
I always appreciate when people do unlikely things like this and now here I was doing something unique and possibly reuniting a heartbroken child with their toys in the process.
Strangely, when I told people what I had done, though most people got a kick out of the idea, a few looked at me questioningly. Why would anyone do something so silly? Do you really have time for that? That will never work! Who’s going to see it?
To those nay-sayers, I say that I would do something so silly and I will do it anytime the opportunity presents itself. My mental survival depends on frequent goofiness, so yes, I have time, or better yet — I make the time for the things I need to survive. It did work! Incredibly, the right people saw it. Others told me they got a good laugh when they saw it at the park and found out it was our doing. Someone pointed out my spelling error. Oops…
Step one: Photo shoot!
I needed some good pictures of these two scaly varmints. Then I realized I needed a way to verify the identity of their true master. The flyer would have to feature only one of the dinosaurs and ask for a description of the other as a test. We can’t have just any old kid calling to say they want their dinos back.
I am nothing if not rigorous when it comes to sensitive issues like this.
Step two: Post the flyers
We distributed the flyers in key spots around the park and hoped for the best. Surprisingly, I only got one or two prank phone calls over the next week or so and then finally, one day, a woman’s voice tentatively asked if I had posted the flyer about the lost dino pals.
Her son had forgotten them at the park about a week earlier and had been despondent — the parents out there will know these hunks of molded plastic are surprisingly expensive! He was understandably thrilled to see his long lost toothy friend featured on a lost and found poster at the park the next time they visited. The boy’s mother correctly described the green T-Rex not shown in the flyer and a felicitous match was made.
We arranged for a pick up and I sealed the two beasts in a bag with a little message:
Dear *****, We are so happy you found us! Please never leave us alone like that again. We were well taken care of, but we missed you so much!
The boy’s mother later found me on FaceBook and shared the post she made about the whole incident. I was so glad to have brought a little spark of joy and wonder to her and her son. A little faith in humanity was restored to all involved.
No, I didn’t change the world, but in reaching out to create a work of humorous art and attempt an act of kindness, I made a human connection I would not otherwise have made — and I got a happy memory and a great story out of it.
For me, these are the things that make life beautiful. They are not the only things — the birth of children, curing diseases, stopping societal ills are all much more momentous. But I believe that in the nonstop world we live in, it is too easy to let our humanity go by the wayside, so much so, that we forget about it altogether.
These acts of public art, humor, kindness or some combination of the three help remind us that somewhere out there, someone has time to be silly, to create, to give.
Thanks for reading.