Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Blah," said Toad

“Blah,” said Toad.

A common phrase in our house.  Used when the milk spills, when the sand dumps out of our hastily kicked off shoes onto the rug, and when one of us just needs a little giggle.

Frog and Toad have become our friends.  We love to sit down with their stories and discover the silly little anecdotes that fill up their days.  They make us ribbit.

Although each of these friends has fine qualities and one would not be complete without the other, I find that I have a special affinity for Toad.  It’s always been like this for me.  I like the underfrog. 

In Winnie the Pooh, I have a preference for the chronically depressed Eeyore, I’ve always favored Simon over Alvin, Bert over Ernie, and Grumpy over Happy, Doc, or any of the other jollier ones. And Cubby is my favorite Neverland pirate.  If you ask me, Jake is nothing but an over-gelled, handsome, goody-two-shoes and Izzy is a slut.

And so it is with Frog and Toad.  Frog just generally seems to have his act together at all times.  He’s a get-up and go kind of amphibian.  He stands taller, looks better in his bellbottoms and his green is a nice, vibrant lily-pad color.

Toad, on the other hand, is self-conscious, crabby, slow on the uptake, short and pond-turd yellow.  He is not who the ladies notice first.  I adore him.

And it’s not hard to figure out why.  Because reading about Toad is like looking in a mirror—I am always relieved to see that someone else has the same unsightly warts.

All of the Frog and Toad tales are hits with us, but the one that makes us laugh the hardest is “A List.”  Toad wakes up and makes a list of all the things he has to do for the day.  If Finny could write a list, it would resemble Toad’s:  Wake-Up, Eat Breakfast, Get Dressed, Go to Frog’s House, Take Walk with Frog, Eat lunch, Take nap, Play games with Frog, Eat Supper, Go to Sleep.

He is ecstatic when he realizes upon waking up that he can cross out Wake-Up.  I smile.  As a stay-at-home mom, I should make a list like this.  My productivity levels would sky rocket, and I would feel like a million bucks.

The climax of the whole story comes when Frog and Toad are on their walk and Toad gets out his list to cross Take Walk with Frog off his list.  His list blows away and Frog suggests they run after it.

“No,” shouted Toad, “I cannot do that!”
“Why not?” asked Frog.
“Because,” wailed Toad, “running after my list is not one of the things that I wrote on my list of things to do!”

And with that, Toad says “Blah,” sits down and loses all hope for productivity.

And this could be me on any given day.  Misplaced the bag of caramels I bought for making candy apples a couple weeks ago and fell to pieces.  Found the crock-pot off when I went to retrieve our chicken dinner from it at 6:30 p.m. and whined like a four-year-old.  Misplaced Charlie’s new water bottle and dreamt about its possible whereabouts all night long, only to find it behind the orange juice in the refrigerator.

Feeling productive with kids under five is a fruitless endeavor.  It’s an uphill climb that involves an extraordinary number of avalanches.  Tape a ripped book.  Find another page ripped within five minutes of returning it.  Pick the flung hot dog off the floor, see the flung peas land in their empty place moments later.  Put all the blocks back in the bin?  Why?  Why?  Why ever do that?  They belong all over the rug like tiny landmines just waiting for a misstep by a bare foot.

So “Blah.”  There are daily occasions for blah.  This is not a pretty job.  It’s messy and dirty and exhausting and it’s often quite literally, pond-turd yellow.

So I appreciate Toad.  How defeated he is when he loses his to-do list (“A List”), how desperate he is to just hibernate for one more month (“Spring”), and how he wants nothing to do with talk of will power when it comes to a bowl of freshly-baked cookies (“Cookies”).

I need people like Toad in my life.  And so do my boys.  Imperfect people who sometimes feel defeated, but figure out a way to laugh about it…eventually.

And we need friends like Frog who accept us, unconditionally for all of our silliness, all of our flaws, all of our blahs…and walk with us really good-looking pin-striped bell bottoms.

[NOTE:  While finishing this blog, I changed a poopy diaper, wiped a poopy preschool butt, fixed two snacks, organized a glitter glue craft, fixed a Happy Meal toy, and kissed away some tears after a fall.  None of these things were on my To-Do list.  Feeling Froggy.]

All quotes are from:  Lobel, Arnold.  Frog and Toad Together.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trolley Trail

We put on hats, fastened under chins and pulled snug over ears.  We pulled on mittens.  We pulled off mittens, left flapping, hanging by elastic out of coat sleeves.  We left the light on, locked the door, grabbed our bags, and hit the trail.

Imagine that:  a trail just at the end of our alley.  The Trolley Trail they call it because it used to be a trolley line.  It’s through the trees, but you can still see the cars and the lake below.  It only goes three blocks—the perfect length for a one-and-a-half-year-old and four-year-old.

We crunched and collected.  Red ones, orange ones, yellow ones.  Not too crunchy.  Look for soft ones.  Here’s one!  Oh, is this a good one?  That’s a great one!  Found one!  A hunt.  For fall leaves.  For nature’s treasure.

We ran, we skipped, we jumped.  We found logs and sticks and stumps.  We didn’t go far, but it was far enough to feel like we were in another place.  The woods, but not quite.

And I watched them, bundled and red-faced from the chill in the wind.  And I enjoyed them, simply delighted by the ground and what had fallen on it.  And we moved…slowly.  In no hurry to get anywhere at all.  Just to put one foot in front of the other and crunch, crunch, crunch.

It’s getting dark.  Everything is falling.  Slowing down.  Minnesota summer was remarkable.  A big yellow vacation.  But fall is here, whispering winter’s chill and dimming the lights, and I’m ready.

Slippers are in the basket, soup is in the crock-pot, and leaves are coming indoors, in our bags, in our hair, tucked in the cuffs of our pant-legs.  It’s only October, but I’m feeling bold, Minnesota.  Bring us home, slow us down, snuggle us up.  I can handle the nip of your fall air, and I’m bracing myself for the chill in my bones when the crunch of leaves suddenly becomes the crunch of frozen earth.