Of Frogs & Children
I grew up in the country. Being very independent even when I was young, I loved to go off exploring. There were a lot of great places to investigate near my house. A trip to the woods was right up the street. A trip to the swamp was right down the street. A trip to the pond was just a few blocks away. Rocks to study, creatures to examine, hills to climb, quiet places to find. Oh the fun of being a kid with nothing important to do!
Early summer was an especially great time to visit the pond. There were bull frogs that lived there. Bringing a net and bucket with me, I’d listen quietly for the deep “jug-o-rum” sound. Then slowly, carefully, I’d follow the sound. Inevitably I’d find a big, fat, lazy frog sitting near the water’s edge. Then it was time to be extra careful. These bullfrogs were always hopeful that I wouldn’t notice them sitting there. They’d stop croaking and remain perfectly still, their skin blending in with their surroundings. They almost always sat facing the water. That way if danger arose, they could make a quick get-a-way into the pond with a single jump. The trick was to get as close as possible to the frog, then delicately hold the net a few inches off the ground and about a foot away from the frog’s face, just above the pond water. When I was sure I was in just the right position, I’d quickly move my foot just behind his rear. The bullfrog was terrified, of course, and would try to leap into the pond, but because my net was there, he’d end up right in my net. Then I’d carry him home, and play with him in our yard. Sometimes my sister would go with me and catch her own. Then we’d have frog jumping contests on the driveway. Later, we’d set them free.
I’m a city girl now and it seems I’ve lost my touch! Several years ago, when my kids were little, we were studying amphibians. After reading all about frogs and metamorphosis, I thought it would be great fun to take my kids to a local creek and catch a frog. The kids were excited! We waited ’till a nice day, made sure it was the right season, purchased a net, grabbed a bucket, and I piled the kids into the van. At this time they were probably about 9, 7, 5, & 3 years-old.
Granted, creeks in Philly are definitely more polluted than those in the country, but still, I thought finding a frog would be relatively easy. I parked the van, the kids jumped out, and we listened. “Dug um”, “Dug um”. Yes, I could definitely hear a frog. My 3 & 5 year-olds were not being very quiet, but they were trying, and they were walking slowly and carefully. I looked and looked all along the water’s edge. Nothing.
About 20 minutes into my search, my three-year old started to whine. “Mom, I’m tired. When are we going home?”
“Not yet, Captain. We will find a frog!”
I continued searching for the sneaky amphibians. My three oldest were still ambitious; plus they just loved being near the creek. They kept looking. My youngest sat down and started playing in the dirt.
About 40 minutes into my search, my five-year old started to whine. “Mommm. I don’t think there are ANY frogs here.”
“Of course there are frogs here. You here that sound?”
“Dug um”, “Dug um”.
“That’s the sound a frog makes.”
“I think something else is saying that. I thought a frog said ‘Rib-it.'”
“It’s a frog, honey. Don’t worry! We’ll find it!”
I continued my search with the help of my oldest two. My 5 year-old sat in the dirt next to my 3 year-old and started playing.
About 60 minutes into my search my oldest said, “Mom. I’m bored. We’re not going to find a frog. Let’s just go home!”
“Yeah, I’m getting hungry!” My seven year-old added.
“Okay. I hear you.” I said irritably. “Let’s just look a little longer, okay?”
“Aw right,” They reluctantly agreed, but my seven year-old went over to my youngest two and also started kicking in the pile of dirt.
Finally, after an hour and a half of careful searching, my oldest said, “Mom! I’m tired of looking for frogs! Come on! Let’s go home!”
“Yeah!” the other three added eagerly.
“Alright! Alright!” I snapped. “Let’s go home.”
My four mopey kids cheered up immediately. They tracked dirt into the van and we drove home. What a waste of time! I know frogs were there. What did I do wrong? An hour and a half of searching, and all I have to show for it is 4 messy kids, a grumpy me, and a dirty van. These were my thoughts after we got back to the house.
Two weeks later, I went out in the evening to put out the trash, and what did I find on my front steps? A FROG!!!
Just to be clear, I live in Philadelphia. Yes, there are small patches of grass in front of each of the homes on my block. And yes, there are a few city trees planted on my block, but for the most part, my block is cement. There is no pond or creek near our house. There is no reasonable explanation as to why there should be a frog on our block at all, let alone my front steps.
I ran into the house, grabbed the net and bucket, and captured the frog. The kids were already asleep for the night when I found him, but they were thrilled the next morning when I told them the good news! We put him in a small, plastic aquarium. We fed him bugs and gave him grass and rocks to sit on. We had fun watching him for a few days and then set him free in my yard.
God brought us the frog we were searching for in His own good timing.
Believe it or not, this frog story has become a good homeschooling analogy for me. Sometimes I hit a wall with my kids in a particular subject. For example, when my daughter was little I tried to teach her how to put things in alphabetical order. I’d give her a list of words: cat, ball, dog, fox. Then I’d patiently explain that since “b” comes before “c” in the alphabet, the word “ball” should come first. I tried explaining the concept using many different sets of words. I showed her the dictionary and how words came in order. We practiced and practiced. I explained and explained. I tried to be patient. She just didn’t get it. We worked on it for weeks. I found myself getting frustrated: she should know this. Kids are supposed to learn this in this grade. What am I doing wrong? What can I do better? Will she ever figure this out? Finally after trying everything, I gave up teaching the lesson and moved on to something else. Two months later I reintroduced the concept of “alphabetical order”. She got it immediately.
Sometimes we, as homeschool moms, can push and push. We look at what is expected of children by a certain time and get worried. But just as kids go through physical growth spurts, they can also go through mental growth spurts. A beauty of homeschooling is the freedom to Not do things by the book. Sometimes it’s best to drop a topic for a little while, and let God bring about the results in His own good timing.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1; 6 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: ….. a time to search and a time to give up…”
Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?”
Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Copyright December 3rd, 2013 by Gwen Fredette
All Scripture taken from NIV (New International Version)