When describing the character of Alan Grant, what springs to mind? He is without doubt a respected Palaeontologist, a self-confessed technophobe and most definitely a dedicated hat-wearer. But what about a father figure? Okay, initially he appears to be allergic to children, as indicated by his disturbingly vivid description of a raptor attack (‘you are still alive when they start to eat you….’). However, when disaster strikes, who swoops in to save the petrified prepubescent’s from being the T-Rex’s main course? Not their recklessly misguided Gramps, who for all his twinkly smiles and grandfatherly affection for them, could not have done more to put their lives in danger if he had smeared them in barbecue sauce and handed them to the cantankerous carnivore on a silver platter. The irreverent Dr Malcolm isn’t much use either; despite his assertions about much he loves kids and let’s not even mention the cowardly lawyer who, before you can say Cretaceous Period, abandons his young travelling companions, only to fall victim to a rather unfortunate toilet incident. No, it is Alan Grant who at great risk to himself, instinctively leaps to the rescue of Lex and Tim and eventually leads them to safety. What’s more, he teaches them a lot of valuable life skills along the way.
Nature versus Nurture
In between all the screaming and running for their lives, Dr Grant manages to teach the youngsters a very important lesson: if you do not respect nature, then there is a very good chance that it may end up eating you for breakfast. He demonstrates to his wards that knowledge is power – particularly when a twenty foot prehistoric predator is chasing you. Dr Grant shows Lex and Tim that nature should be respected and valued, rather than being resurrected against its will and turned into a giant, hungry zoo that wants to eat you. This will encourage them to take an active interest in the world around them and get involved as much as they can, whilst also not making the same mistakes as their grandfather when they grow up. So if you are stuck for ideas for days out with the children,take a leaf out of Dr Grant’s book and go on a nature walk; although, you may want to opt for surroundings that have furrier, cuter inhabitants with much smaller teeth.
Confidence Building and the Importance of Self-Development
Like any good father, Dr Grant is there for Lex and Tim as much as they need him, from helping them climb out of trees to wiping dinosaur snot from their faces, but he also knows when to back off and respect their individuality. He teaches them the value of self-reliance and utilizing their own skills to work as part ofa successful team. Would Lex have had the confidence to put her computing talents to good use and manage to lock the door just before the dinosaurs burst into the room when the adults were powerless to do so, if it wasn’t for Dr Grant’s encouragement? Would Tim have had the courage to lock the raptor in the kitchen and flee to safety without Dr Grant’s paternal influence? Through him, Lex and Tim see that adults don’t know everything (just look at their dithering grandfather) and no matter how young you are, you always have something valuable to offer.
To the untrained eye, Dr Grant may seem like a stuffy academic who prefers fossils to funfairs, but to Lex and Tim he’ll always be Uncle Al.
Frankie Hughes is a writer who understands that coming up with new and interesting ideas for days out with the children can be difficult. However, she believes that as long as you choose things which are creative and engaging; then your children will be entertained, will learn and will behave.