We had a chat about spirit animals, and the internet is not my friend.
I have no idea what it was like to answer kids’ questions before the internet. I’m sure my parents just made things up, just as I do sometimes. Mostly I answer the best I can and when I don’t know the answer, and there’s wifi available, we all huddle together around a screen and look together. Of course, I find the right website first, before the screen is turned to the wider audience. [This is a lesson I learned with Peanut when she was 4 and we were debating whether dinosaurs breathed fire. She agreed that, yes, dragons had fire breath, but refused to concede that dinosaurs did not. For 10 minutes we talked about the difference between mythical and extinct creatures, until she told me, "I got that, Mom. But dinosaurs breathed fire too!" So, I went to the videotape...or rather internet. I googled dinosaurs and fire, clicked the first result and, lo and behold, there was a creationist educational site that showed a dinosaur and dragon in a fire fight, both shooting flames from their snouts with some exceptional 90s-style CGI. The website explained that all those plants the dinos ate created methane gas that was ignited by electric eel-like sparks in mouths...or something like that. Peanut 1, Mom 0. Now, I find the site first then share.]
Today my interrogators came to me with questions about spirit animals. The precise origin of the question was difficult to discern, but I think it was connected to some months-ago lessons at school about Aboriginal people in Australia. We talked about how some people believed they could connect with animals in special ways. There were two sweet but confused faces staring back at me and a third, whose eyes were narrowed in deep concentration. I was thinking, hey, this two-year-old gets it!–and then at the midpoint of that split-second thought, he asked me for his toy trumpet.
“Trum pit?…play trum pit, peez?”
Eventually the girls and I got to a point where we were talking about how our favorite animals are our favorites because there are things about them that we really like or wish we had, and how there are a lot of talents animals have that people do not.
Despite the long list of cool animal skills we compiled together, Peanut decided her spirit animal was a person, “because people are a kind of animal and talking and reading are the best things we do, and no animals can do that.” So, she wouldn’t want to be any other kind of animal, “except maybe a unicorn.” [Sigh. I was too tired to get in to the mythical vs. real thing again.]
Sass said her spirit animal was a cat with laser-shooting feather ears just like her story…the one she’s been telling/developing/insisting-those-around-her-play-carefully-scripted-roles-in for days. [Now it's two mythical creatures. Ugh. Fine! Let's get in to it.] I explained that just as there are no real unicorns, there are no cats with laser feather ears. She told me I was wrong. So I went to the Google. Guess what?!
[I can't do this with 90s-style CGI so instead, this is my homage to 90s-style chain emails.]
It’s called a Caracal. Feather ears, yes. But it does NOT shoot lasers from those feather ears. Sass 1, Mom .5.
Still a loss. I think I’m going to kick it old school from now on. There is no internet to ask…and Mom is always right.