Those of you who have been reading my column since the inception of E&P (and you know who you are) probably know that I have a daughter since she’s been mentioned several times over the years. If you’re like most of my friends and coworkers, you probably assume that she’s about 8 since for some weird reason people’s kids don’t seem to age at the same pace as the rest of us.

As luck would have it, she’s actually 17, turning 18 in September. But sometimes I feel like I have my 8-year-old back safe and sound.

The reason is that Anna was, like many grade-school kids, enamored with dinosaurs when she was younger. And, of course, all kids go through that “know it all” stage where their knowledge is both impressive and incredibly obnoxious. But Anna moved on, developing other interests such as music, Anime, and writing. So it seemed our paleontology days were behind us.

More recently, however, she backslid. I first noticed this when the dreaded “college search” began. Out of the blue, my creative writing nerd decided she wanted to major in evolutionary biology. Suddenly Charles Darwin was her new hero. And God forbid we examined colleges in Texas; only colleges in the northeast United States (which, by the way, tend to be the most expensive) were on the short list.

Then she got accepted to go on a “People to People” student ambassador trip to Australia. We were supposed to buy Texas souvenirs to give to her host family in Oz, but we couldn’t find any stores open when we needed to visit them. So we set off to the Museum of Natural Science to hit the gift shop. But, of course, one can’t just head to the museum district in Houston to go shopping; one must first visit the museum.

I told friends later that it was like having my 8-year-old daughter back without the know-it-all attitude. Anna knew the names of all of the dinosaurs, pointed out parts of the exhibit that recent science had debunked, and generally knew more than the docent who was leading the adjacent tour. She did it in such a quiet, acceptable way that not once did I have the urge to tell her to be quiet and enjoy herself.

This is a major accomplishment.

So now we’ve returned from seeing the third (and final?) “Ice Age” movie, in which creatures like wooly mammoths are thrust into the same biosphere as T-Rexes. At age 8 I don’t think Anna could have handled that mauling of actual prehistory, but at age 17 she managed the all-important “willing suspension of disbelief” and enjoyed the movie thoroughly.

With one caveat – on the way home, she felt obliged to name all of the dinosaurs.

So why does this matter? Well, the obvious, main, primary reason is that I get to brag about my kid. But beyond that, I think it’s important to note that we baby boomers are raising kids who are going to be great leaders in 20 years or so. Look at your own kids. If you have high school- or college-age kids, what are they doing? What are they interested in? Right now we have two great interns on our staff who are very dedicated and will do whatever we ask them to, even though I’m sure the technology confuses them. But they don’t complain. And, drat it all, they write better than we do!

So Great Crew Change, beware – those who follow will lead those who came before.