Frog Wars

Rosemary M. Magee

I despise frogs.

In fact, even more seriously, I object to frogs. Admittedly I know little about them. For instance, what is the difference between a frog and a toad? For some reason I tend to think of a frog as green and a toad as brown. But it has got to be more than that.

I don't want to know.

As much as I would like to meet a prince, it is important to state: I would never, never, never kiss a frog. Although I did eat frog legs one summer night. It was a time of wild abandon. Despite their many interesting qualities, I do not wish to live with frogs or be one in another life. I stayed out sick from school the day we were to dissect frogs in biology. For all these reasons and more, I am intending to inaugurate an anti-frog campaign. We will stamp out frogs, eliminate them from the face of the earth by putting them all in a spacecraft and blasting them into the next galaxy.

This effort will be interdisciplinary and international in scope. Physicists, biologists, psychologists, and mythologists will unite in a world-wide attempt to evacuate frogs from this planet. Naturally, in opposition, there will be a pro-frog contingent: Environmentalists who wear green baseball caps and argue for the critical place of frogs in the ecosystem, animal rights advocates who maintain the individual sanctity of frog life, and little boys all across the land who regularly conspire with frogs. The dawn of the 21st century will bring with it the first of several Frog Wars.

You may wonder why it is I object so strenuously to frogs. As you would expect, these feelings are deeply embedded in the early stages of my cognitive and emotional development.

As a child I learned to avoid those little boys who put frogs down the backs of the dresses of little girls who wore their hair in braids and read books at lunchtime about adventurers: stories about Laura Ingalls, Pippi Longstocking, Jo March, Anne of Green Gables. These heroic girls also had their own frog trials and tribulations. Like them, I felt certain I knew the kind of men the frog boys would become. They were the ones who tricked people, who scared women. With frogs, they invaded other people's private spaces, somehow wanting to hold them in their power. Bill Clinton was among them, no doubt their leader. Thus frogs seem part of a masculine world I don't fully understand. They occupy a mysterious cosmos, although not necessarily a mean-spirited or ugly one.

These strong feelings are hard for me to reconcile in my life right now because I have a little boy who would like nothing better than to covertly install a frog on his big sister's pillow. I know he contemplates his strategy daily. He observes her feminine ways, her nocturnal habits, her state of mind, to determine just the right time and place to strike with frog in hand. He knows there will be serious repercussions, but he is prepared to live with the threat of retaliation for that one brief moment of joy her outraged shriek will provide.

This boy, who forgets to bring home his science book the night before a test, who cannot find his shoes in the morning and thereby misses the schoolbus, he has focused the full powers of his concentration on the task before him. He searches for frogs in the creek behind our house by day. He reads up on their life cycles by night. He arranges frog-jumping contests with neighbors. He hops around in odd ways as if to get in touch with his own frog essence.

I am afraid to enter my son's room as I never know what I might find there. Possibly petrified frog droppings. The skeleton of a starving or heartsick frog, bereft of his frog family and natural niche. Or a nest of baby tadpoles who will expect me to care for them in ways I do not understand. And cannot fulfill.

These frogs are otherwordly, possessed of mythical attributes, engaging in amphibious antics. They do not belong in a civilized, structured, orderly world. Through their otherness and unpredictability, they shake my sense of who I am and what is supposed to happen and how life is to unfold. We have nothing in common, these frogs and I. And that is why they should go and I should stay. I will win these frog wars. With this triumph will come much satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. A job well done. Order restored in my household and on the planet.

And what about my little boy, you ask. How will he cope? What new possibilities will capture his energy and imagination? As his mother I will teach him about the ways of the world. Life and his place in it. He is something much greater and better and larger and more majestic than a lowly, warty, scaly, gnarled, hyper-active frog. We've already had this conversation once at the breakfast table. Along with Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms, I fed him a logical discourse on the fallacies of frogs. To which he simply replied "ribbet" and happily hopped away.