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There’s a visible scar underneath 4-year-old Sydney Moore’s brown hair. Although it’s a daily reminder of a life-threatening injury she suffered years earlier, Sydney looks at it with a much different attitude.
When she was 2½ months old, her mother was carrying her out of the house on the way to church when she fell on the outside stairs.
“We fell, and when I picked her up, she had a visible dent in her head,” Christy Moore, Sydney’s mother, remembered. “The first thought I had when I picked her up was, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve killed my child.’”
Sydney was immediately taken to Duke University Medical Center, where doctors performed emergency surgery on her broken skull.
“They said it was almost like a cookie being broken in half,” Moore said. “It broke right in half and jagged pieces were pointing down toward the lining of her brain.”
Doctors told Moore if Sydney were any older, the injury would have killed her instantly, but the skull was still soft and still forming. Sydney was quickly able to recover from the fall.
“I just think God allows things to happen like that,” Moore said. “It’s God’s graces that gets you through that.”
Sydney does not remember the injury but is reminded of it every day by the scar underneath her hair. The scar, she said, makes her smarter.
“Did you know that there’s a place that has no hair? That’s my scar, where I had my surgery,” Sydney said. “From the scar tissue, I was smart. That made me smart.”
The 4-year-old kindergartener has channeled her smarts into learning anything and everything about dinosaurs. A self-proclaimed expert on dinosaurs, Sydney would prefer to look at books about dinosaurs and snakes rather than fairy-tales and princesses.
She would rather dress her tyrannosaurus rex Meaty in clothes and jewelry than any of her dolls.
“I’m so smart about dinosaurs,” Sydney said.
Sydney said her infatuation with dinosaurs was instant.
“I was 2,” Sydney remembers. “All of the sudden, I froze for a few minutes, and I knew all about dinosaurs.”
Moore is not sure how Sydney became so interested in them, but she said for as long as she could remember Sydney has been infatuated with the prehistoric predators.
“She has tons of books and we all read to her, but I really don’t know where she’s picked it up from,” Moore said.
Sydney will sit for hours looking through her dinosaur books and can name just about any dinosaur pictured, tell you where they are found, what they eat and random facts about everything dinosaurs.
“Ooh, brontosaurus! Ooh, pterodactyl! Ooh, pterosaurs! Ooh, stegosaurus!” Sydney shouted as she looked through one of her favorite books.
Sydney is beginning to read and recognize small words, but is unable to read the books herself. Her large memory allows her to remember many facts after hearing them read only one time, which might explain the reason for remembering so much.
“I probably haven’t picked that book up in several months,” Moore said of the book Sydney was reading and naming dinosaurs from. “I don’t know how she does it.”
Sydney is not allowed to watch many cartoons or movies, but does watch educational shows on the public television channel.
“We don’t push anything on her, she just loves learning,” Moore said.
Sydney’s family has several pets, but the pet she longs for is no longer in existence.
“I would really like to have a pet dinosaur but they’re not alive anymore,” Sydney said.
But she has a long list of what she’d do with her new pet if they were.
“I would give him a bath in a pond and play dinosaur fetch with a giant stick and play dinosaur tag and pet the dinosaur and ride it and let it be in my backyard and let it stomp in mud puddles and me and my dinosaur would play in the mud puddles,” Sydney said in one breath.
Moore and her husband Brent have two teenage sons and said after many years of trying and heartache, they finally had the little girl they always dreamed of. But as Sydney got more into dinosaurs and snakes and animals, Moore began to wonder, “What happened to my little girl?”
“I thought, ‘I’m going to get her out of this dinosaur stuff,’” Moore said. “We watched “Jurassic Park,” and I thought, ‘I’m sure that’ll do it, most kids are terrified after they see that.’ When the big dinosaur came on, she said, ‘Oh, cool!’”
So as Moore accepts her tiny daughter’s love of enormous animals, she looks forward to March, as Sydney wants to have her first princess party to celebrate her 5th birthday.
But Sydney isn’t planning on letting go her love of dinosaurs anytime soon. The tiny 27-pound 4-year-old has big dreams. Her sights are set on becoming a paleontologist when she grows up.
"Do you know what a paleontologist does? They dig up dinosaur bones,” Sydney said. “Last night I dreamed about a paleontologist and that dream is gonna come true.”
Moore hopes her daughter’s dream does come true someday.
“I think she can do it if she wants to be a paleontologist. I tell all my kids you can do anything you want to do. Don’t limit yourself. You can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it,” she said.
Kathryn Jacewicz is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.