The Contrarian Capitulates…Then Changes His Mind

Apparently not the same thing…

Every morning we listen to an eclectic mix of tunes courtesy our favorite radio station – Pandora.  Our children’s variety station has a little something for everyone:

Global sounds by way of Putumayo (for Nick, my world soul)

Hippie harmonies thank to Seeger, Guthrie, and Paxton (for Gabe, my old soul)

Disney musicals (for Olivia, my princess soul)

This morning, while listening to Ralph’s World’s Cavemen for the buh-zillionth time – how many songs are in the Pandora database and this one turns up daily?! – Nick froze, his spoon in midair as almond milk and organic rice cereal dripped back into his bowl.  For someone reason, on this day, the lyrics had caught his attention.

“Wait – what’s a mastodon?”

“That is an excellent question.”  Then I froze as I had no idea what the most accurate answer was.  “I think it might be something like a woolly mammoth, but I’m not sure.  We should look it up –”  Nick started to rise from the table – “after we finish our breakfast, clear the table, brush our teeth, wash our face and go potty.”

If that carrot stick of knowledge wasn’t enough motivation, then I didn’t know what was.

When he did complete his 5 THING WE DO IN THE MORNING with continuous prompting he slid my iPad across the dining room table and planted himself in the chair beside me.


“It’s Mastodon.”

“No, it’s Mas-to-GON.”

“Actually, Nick –”

Lori’s voice cut through our repartee , “Nana, Focus” which was then followed by a quick reminder of  the last grammatical debate I’d had with Nick.  “Eagle.  Seagull.  Move on.”    I did win that one…2 years after it started. 

“Fine,” I replied through gritted teeth.  “So much for specificity in language.”

I typed mastodon into Google images.  “It is a D, you know.”  Lori shook her head.  Nick ignored me. Olivia sucked on her toes.  And Gabe decided to stop using yogurt as a hand lotion and join us on the other side of the table.   Just your typical morning breakfast.

Up popped the pictures that one would expect – “See guys, a mastodon looks like a giant elephant with huge tusks and a lot of fur.  How cool is that?” – along with pictures of a heavy metal band out of Atlanta.

“Who are they?”  Nick pointed to the promo pics.

“Just some people who play music and thought it would be neat to name themselves after a giant furry animal.”  I was not going to let some intense-looking white dudes with lots of tattoos derail this paleolithic teaching moment.  I blithely plowed along.  “We still need to see if mastodons and woolly mammoths were the same thing.”

Apparently, we really didn’t.

The wriggling on both sides of me indicated that it was time to switch topics.  Fortunately, a quick scan of a Yahoo answer gave me enough information to pacify my inner research geek – which Lori characterizes as OCD, to which I say meh.  

“Nope.  Turns out they were different creatures.  Phew.  Solved that conundrum.”  I expect Nick will randomly ask about that word some time next year.  “Want to see a gigantic rock in Los Angeles?”

We hit youtube for a video of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, a work of art which would never have entered my world had  I not stumbled across a Monocle 24 podcast in which witty British people discuss obscure cultural happenings.  Soooo up my alley.

“That is one big rock, Nana.”

“It was so big, they had to move it at night.”  I hugged both boys closer, dropping my voice to a whisper, my hands curled like claws for spooky story goodness.  “Under cover of darkness.”  I could feel Lori rolling her eyes at the added drama.

“It’s public art, not a Stephen King novel.”

Sigh.  I switched to my chipper preschool teacher voice.  “And everyone was so excited that they lined up along the road and had a big party.  The end.”

That was enough to satisfy Gabe, who took his fingers out of his mouth long enough to steady himself as the slid from his chair and back to his unfinished bowl of yogurt.

“Can you find a movie with a mastodon,” Nick asked.

“Unfortunately they’re all – Hey!” His correct pronunciation had caught me off-guard, but I was thrilled with his timely capitulation.  “Yes, it is a mastodon” – significant glance at Lori – “but they’re all extinct.”

Instinct,” he corrected.

Lori wagged her finger at me before I could even open my mouth.  “All done now, Nana.”

At that moment, Gabe’s Pavlovian conditioning kicked in and he clapped his hands with reckless abandon, spraying flecks of yogurt across the the table, the floor, and, of course, my iPad screen.

“All done!  Yaaaaaaaay!”

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