After Nathaniel Epstein lost his dinosaur – his constant companion for 15 years – his mother was bereft and Nathaniel was, too.
Since he was eight years old, the Baltimore boy had kept the heavy plastic brachiosaurus with him at all times, taking him on outings, sleeping with him at night, gripping him so tightly he had a permanent callus on his hand.
I asked Jennifer Bishop for an update on the situation:
How was her developmentally disabled son, now 23 and living during the week in a Towson group home, coping after Dinosaur disappeared last month at the White Marsh Dave & Buster’s?
• When a faithful dinosaur friend goes missing (10/21/23)
“The first weekend home without Dinosaur he would wander the house calling, ‘Dinosaur, where are you?’ every couple hours,” Bishop said.
Online, she located and purchased the identical toy dinosaur and waited for it to arrive, fingers crossed.
Would Nathaniel accept a facsimile without the distinctive wear, tear and repaired right front leg?
Nope. Not happening.
“Nathaniel was overjoyed at first glance, but when he got close, he looked it in the eye for a steady minute, then quietly rejected it,” Bishop said in a text. “Will have nothing to do with it.”
Dave & Buster’s: No Help
Bishop, a longtime Baltimore freelance photographer and photojournalist, knows life will go on and her son will get through it. Still, she’s not quite ready to let it go.
Today, she’s planning to drive over to the White Marsh Mall and put up fliers, hoping someone will see them and realize that the toy they picked up and brought home means so much to her son.
“Please help us reunite him with his old dinosaur,” the flier reads. “No questions asked and happy to reward or swap for a duplicate dinosaur from eBay.”
Bishop was hoping the Dave & Buster’s arcade and restaurant there – where Nathaniel and his caregiver last saw Dinosaur – would quickly hang up a sign like that for her.
But she hasn’t been able to get through to anyone to make it happen.
“They never answered my emails,” said Bishop, who spoke with manager Kevin Miles the day Dinosaur went missing, but hasn’t had any response from him since.
We also reached out to Miles to no avail.
UPDATE 2 p.m. today: Bishop said she was greeted today by two different managers at Dave & Busters – staffers who were very helpful, a welcome change in attitude.
“They promised to hang the fliers and asked if Nate would like to come in and pick out a dinosaur from their store,” Bishop reported. “One of them used to work with disabled kids, and her mom is special ed teacher.“
Mainstay for a Mom
I asked Bishop if, as some time has passed, Nathaniel has adjusted to life without Dinosaur?
A bit, perhaps?
“Nathaniel is in good spirits, but sad on the subject of Dinosaur. He keeps refusing the new one, and I think it only reminds him his old friend is missing.”
Meanwhile, she’s feeling pretty blue about the situation herself.
After Dinosaur helped Bishop and her boy through so many challenges – enduring medical procedures, boarding the school bus, accepting a new caregiver – she’s come to see all that the prehistoric helper has meant to her too.