It's an oft-heard refrain come bedtime at the Robbins' abode, along with "Daddy, I'm thirsty," "Daddy, I'm hungry," "Daddy, I'm going to throw up," "Daddy, I've got to go to the bathroom," "Daddy, tell me a story," and "Daddy, I can't go to sleep at 6 o'clock."
Our children just don't like to go to sleep, especially when it's daylight (which is when Daddy often tries to put them to bed when left to his own devices).
This time, though, our six-year-old son's fears seemed genuine.
"Daddy, I can't go to sleep, I'm scared," he repeated after I rolled my eyes.
I took the bait.
"Okay, what are you scared of?"
"Dinosaurs, Daddy," he said with a chill. "I'm scared a dinosaur is going to eat me."
I chuckled, then sat down on the edge of his bed.
"Son, there is no such thing as dinosaurs," I said reassuredly. "They're extinct."
"But Daddy, I'm not scared of their stink," he said. "I'm scared of them eating me. Didn't you hear me?"
"No, no, they are EX-TINCT, meaning they are no longer around," I explained to a puzzled brow. "They all died hundreds of years ago. There are no more dinosaurs on earth."
This bit of inaccurate information was met with silence.
Finally, he offered, "Who told you that?"
"Well, I read about it when I was in school."
"I think things have changed since then, cause I see them on TV all the time," he said.
"No, but see, son, that isn't real," I replied. "Those dinosaurs on TV are pretend, like cartoons. It's fake."
He wasn't buying it.
"How did they die then?"
"They became extinct because they, well, they, didn't have any food to eat or anything to drink and they all died because of that," I mustered, trying to remember what I slept through in seventh-grade science.
"They couldn't find anything to drink?"
"Yeah, that's right," I said with a sudden spark of confidence. "They couldn't find anything to drink."
"Why didn't they just drink a Coke or something?"
"They didn't have Cokes back then, son," I responded.
"Why didn't they go to the grocery store to get something to eat?"
"They didn't have grocery stores back then," I responded.
"Why didn't they go to the Dairy Queen?"
"They didn't have a Dairy Queen back then," I responded.
"Why didn't they eat dogs?"
"They didn't have dogs back then," I responded.
"They didn't have dogs?"
"No," I said, sensing the end of the inquisition. "They didn't have dogs."
Apparently satisfied, he turned over, as if ready to go to sleep. I said, "Good night," stood up and started walking out of his bedroom.
"Daddy," I heard softly as I reached the door.
"Yes," I said, standing in the doorway.
"Daddy, if the dinosaurs didn't have anything to eat or drink, why didn't you give them something?"
"I didn't have time, son," I said without pause. "I was too busy inventing fire."
Len Robbins is editor and publisher of The Clinch County News.