In case you were wondering (and I’m sure you were) our tadpoles are doing well, thank you. In fact, a little TOO well. We have about 10 or 11 little frogs hopping around in the aquarium now, and I think it’s about time to release them into the wild. I try to feed them ants, but whenever I get close to dump the ants in there, the frogs freak out and so I have ants running around everywhere. Plus frogs stink. But still, letting the frogs go will be a proud moment for me. Which reminds me.
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but my last tadpole related post had some exaggerations in it. Yes, some tadpoles died while in my custody when i was a kid. No, I was not traumatized by it. Yes, it had been 25 years since I caught more, no I did not have a nervous breakdown in the car. Yes, we currently have an aquarium with frogs and tadpoles in there. No, I do not talk to them. There. Just didn’t want you to think I had some kind of weird, unhealthy tadpole obsession.
Now that the air is clear, I can continue.
I had made the comment one day to my wife that the tadpoles kind of reminded me of the kids. She said, “Maybe you should blog about it”. And although I detected a hint of sarcasm in her statement, I thought about it. But I dismissed the idea as being too easy and too cliche.
Well, shoot, I LOVE “easy”! And cliches? I’m obsessed with them! So I’m going to do it! Compare my kids to tadpoles! Groundbreaking, I know.
First, some Biology 101. Forgive me if the words get too scientific here.
A tadpole is a goochy goochy goo baby frog. They breathe with gills, live in water, and eat…uh…stuff. We were feeding them little nuggets that kind of smell like catfish bait. If you’ve never smelled catfish bait, it smells like YOU did after the last time you went binge drinking and soiled yourself in several different ways. Don’t act like that never happened to you. Just be thankful there were no camera phones back then.
Anyway, the point is, tadpoles will eat anything. They’re basically bottom feeders.
After….oh….a while, they start developing legs. Or, as we call them in the scientific community, “lil’ froggy feet”. First the rear ones grow, then the front. Then their whole body changes until they look like some kind of tadpole/frog hybrid mutant freakazoid. After a while they develop lungs and can now spend time on dry land, although they still prefer the comfort and familiarity of the water.
Some more time goes by and eventually their lungs are fully developed, their gills fall off or disappear into thin air or whatever, they lose their tales, and now that tadpole is officially a frog. It is then immediately skewered and eaten by a bird or run over by a car or caught by some grubby little kid and kept in a jar where it slowly dies, or worse, caught by the guys on Duck Dynasty. Ciiiircle of liiife.
Ok, now we got the science out of the way. How does this pertain to my children? Lets address my 4 year old son first.
Aevin is a tadpole, pure and simple. A bottom feeder who’s main diet consists of chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. This is a kid who, when asked to change himself into pajamas, throws himself on the floor like he just got tasered. When told to clean his room, acts like its an impossible task that would take years to accomplish (until one day mommy threw half of his worldly possessions into a trash bag and threatened to toss it in the dumpster. THAT straightened him up). So yes, Aevin is a legless tadpole. Now, my 6 year old daughter is a little more developed.
A while back, Presley learned to ride her bike. That, to me, is like growing a tiny frog leg. Lately, she’s been standing up on her bike while riding it, and riding with one hand. That leg is growing. Her 2 front teeth fell out within 24 hours of each other. Thats another frog leg. She now prefers showers instead of baths. Thats a longer frog leg. Plus she’s almost done with the 1st grade. Longer still.
So, see, my daughter is a tadpole with 2 rear legs dangling off the back. Still a tadpole, not nearly a frog yet, but changing before my eyes.
Where do my wife and I fit into all this? Well, although we’re the frogs in this metaphor, frogs are not known for their parenting skills. The female basically lays down some eggs, and the male comes by and squirts some frog juice (sorry, scientific term again) on them, and boom. Fertilized. The frogs then go their separate ways, meeting again a year ot two down the road on “Froggy Maury Povich”. You ARE NOT the father! HECK yeah! Told you they don’t look like me, B*****!
So rather than look at us as deadbeat parent frogs, I’d like to look at us as the water in which the tadpoles develop.
It’s up to us to provide the basics such as food and shelter. But we also have to supply the nutrients for them to grow and develop as frogs as well (ok, I’m going to ditch the frog analogy for a bit here).
We have to give them the right atmosphere for learning. Learning about responsibility. Learning how to be decent to each other. Learning how to give instead of always taking. Learning how to share, and to help others. Respect. Learning that theres others who have it a lot worse than you do. How to be a good friend. Faith. How to be a good listener. Compassion. To be a leader rather than a follower. Honesty. Integrity. Patience. Keeping your word. Confidence. Oh, and the ABCs and 123s and all that gobbly goop.
And thats where my fear comes in. It’s not necessarily a fear of tadpoles. It’s a fear of letting my tadpoles down. A fear of not being up to the task of guiding them the right way. It’s a fear of not being able to teach them everything they need to know before they turn into a mutant hybrid freakazoid (AKA a teenager. Hey, we were all there), and then later, a full fledged adult. I mean, some of those things I listed, I’m lousy at. How can I make sure that my kids don’t share the same faults I have?
I guess I can’t, really. I just have to try my hardest and hope for the best. Luckily I have a wonderful wife to help. And we’re surrounded by some pretty decent family to help too. I think the atmosphere is ideal. Rich with nutrients, if you will. My kids should turn out ok. When it comes time to release them into the wild (which hopefully will be a looong time from now) I think they’ll be alright.
I just hope they watch out for this guy: