For the past year and a half, my oldest son has kept two African Dwarf Frogs as pets in a water-filled plastic cube about the size of a softball perched on his bedside table. I hadn’t paid them much notice at all, each being about the size of my thumbnail and only marginally more interesting, given their habit of sitting motionless for hours at a time. But this morning “Charlie” was alternating between floating listlessly on his back and making feeble attempts to get to the surface for air. While my son sobbed inconsolably, I lifted the frog to the surface with a fingertip where he gulped in a breath before sinking back down to lie around on his back some more. Clearly the end was nigh.
I hope that I was sufficiently comforting to my son in his moment of distress, but my first thought was “This better not make me late for school.” I ignored the question “Should we take it to the vet?” I’m typically too preoccupied over worldwide biodiversity loss to get worked up about the fate of an inconsequential pet smaller than a cockroach.
Or so I thought.
In fact, wrapping that tiny, beautiful frog from in toilet paper and going through the “crush and flush” routine has lingered with me all day. My son’s grief was palpable and genuine. I felt guilty. It’s a healthy reminder, I suppose. It’s just too easy to ignore your ecological footprint when it lands half a planet away.
Clark Meyer (@clarkbeast) teaches Junior High English. Good with ideas, not good at follow-through, works best in teams for that reason.
[This post was created and posted originally for edu180atl (http://edu180atl.org/), on Nov. 14, 2011. I didn’t think to cross post it to Postcards at the time, but today I noticed my principal, Bo Adams, do so, and it’s generally a good move to emulate his practices (but not retell his jokes). So here goes.]