The Cautionary Tale of Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie

For my footloose and fancy free readers who currently have no small children in the house, there is a good chance that they have never read “Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She was Extinct”, by Mo Willems. It’s a shame they haven’t read this gem, because there is profound wisdom within its text.

Here’s the story: Edwina is a well-loved member of the community, and she brings happiness and cookies to all of the townsfolk. There is one boy who has an issue with this: not with the cookies part, but with the dinosaur herself.  The boy with the fantastic name, Reginald von Hoobie-Doobie, is a lad of science and reason, and he knows that dinosaurs are extinct. He cannot understand why no one else seems to care about this. Assuming the townsfolk are simply uninformed, Reginald goes to great length to try to explain to the townspeople that they are friends with a creature who is supposed to be extinct, but no one pays any attention to his lecturing. Finally driven to a state of sullen moping, Reginald sits and pouts. Edwina, ever the good and friendly dino, tries to help him by sitting and listening intently to Reginald’s very long and detailed explanation. And when Reginald has finished talking, Edwina gleefully skips out of the classroom to go make cookies. The final line of the story tells you that Edwina understood what Reginald had said but “she just didn’t care.”

Chilling. well, okay, not really chilling. More adorable than anything else, but there is a message in there. There are going to be times when there is no value to correctly a matter of fact. You can champion reason and knowledge, but you’ll break your brain if you argue over every trivial point of order. Yes, Edwina is a dinosaur, and yes that means she should be a fossil in the ground, but the truth of the situation is that she is very much alive and non-extinct. Reginald is only making his own life harder by pedantically trying to convince people of a fact that is not relevant to the circumstances.

It’s a lesson that every intellectual or “smarty pants” has to learn: let some things slide. Some times, the popular perception is too strong to correct with a simple speech. And, above all, if every one is having a nice time while eating cookies and helping each other, it doesn’t matter who is extinct. And I speak from experience for you see, I have been that “smarty pants”. I have been Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie.

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