Later today, my middle child will be the proud recipient of a classroom frog. His fourth grade class has completed their study on habitat, and the wee froggy learning opportunities are being distributed to new homes. The bowl is ready, the water hopefully dechlorinated from a night’s exposure to the air.
Truthfully, though, we have yet to work out certain key details:
- where the frog bowl will reside, as said fourth-grade boy’s room is devoid of clean surfaces;
- how we will keep the frog bowl free of cat exploration and snack hunting;
- why we are trying this again when our last attempt ended tragically in early frog death.
I posted this about my eldest’s classroom frog experience on Facebook a couple of years ago, before I started blogging:
Without the skills or resources to perform a forensic necropsy, we won’t ever know for sure exactly when the classroom frog brought home after Thanksgiving died.
But when the conversation goes like this:
“Mom, I think my frog is dead.”
“How do you know, does it look dead?”
“Is it upside down or something?”
“Yeah, it’s upside down, and this….stuff has grown all around it…..”
I think we can be reasonably sure death visited a while ago.
At these times, parenting can be hard. When his tears came, after heroic efforts to contain his sadness failed, I sat down with him. As much as I wanted to reassure him that the frog was cheap, probably would have died anyways, and had clearly been traumatized by classroom life before reaching his care, I couldn’t. After all, the death had gone unnoticed long enough to allow a corpse-enveloping growth of some gooey nature.
Clearly, the frog’s care had lacked a certain…..care, you know?
Haltingly, he shared with me his guilt – about not feeding it enough, and not even noticing for a while it was dead. Instead of explaining away his guilt I helped him sit with it, and lovingly assured him that this hard moment and hard feelings would help him do better by other beings in his care in the future.
And then I told him that’s why we let kids start with frogs, and not babies.