Frog and Toad are not friends


I used to read this charming book to my children when they were little. It's called Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel. We must have read it a hundred times. 

I'm not the one that my children would run to in an emergency. That was their dad's job. I could handle the small daily bumps and bruises but anything beyond that, I stepped aside and let the professional take over. If you needed a hero, I was not the one you wanted. So it was surprising that, at a time of do or die, I came through.

My middle daughter loved all things animals. She even liked bugs - well, all bugs except walking sticks but that's a story for another time. She prided herself on her knowledge of the animal kingdom so I should have known better than to argue with her. 

It was a warm summer evening. I went outside to throw away the trash and as I approached the front door, a frog hopping my way caught my attention. I knew my daughter would love to see it so I opened the door and called to her. As I was waiting, I saw a toad also heading toward me. What a sight! 

"Hurry," I called, "come see."

My daughter came out to meet me and bent over looking at the frog. 

"Look," I said, "and there's a toad, too!"

My daughter's brow furrowed as the toad neared the frog, who was now cornered on our front porch. 

"It's just like our book," I said, not understanding the trepidation on her face.

"Toads eat frogs," my daughter said, her eyes transfixed on the advancing toad.

"No they don't," I said in my best 'mommy knows everything' voice. The words had just cleared my lips when, with blazing speed, the toad sprung forward and grabbed the frog.

My daughter gasped. 

Beyond all explanation, and moving with focused precision, I grabbed the frogs little legs and pulled. I don't know if you've ever tried to pull a frog out of a toad's mouth but it's not as easy as it sounds. But I couldn't lose this battle and have my daughter scarred for life. 

With one final pull, I extracted the frog and tossed it into the grass. He made a hasty getaway. I wonder what he told the other frogs about his narrow escape.

The toad, on the other hand, was looking at me in a way that would haunt my dreams. Now that I think about it, that toad might have been stalking that frog for days and just when he got him where he wanted him, I snatched him from his jaws.

"I told you so," my daughter said.

I learned two things that day: 1) When the chips are down, I was capable of becoming a hero (to my daughter and the frog at least) and, 2) You shouldn't base your knowledge of the animal kingdom on a children's book or you might think that frog and toad are friends.