Up on Craggy Pinnacle. Art by Helen Nagan.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Lesson Mother Taught Me


When I was a very young boy, I would go out in the backyard and play.  Mother would often watch from the kitchen as she washed dishes.  One time, when I was out in the yard, I picked up a hollow light metal object – possibly a leg extension to an old grill – and walked up to a frog that was sitting in the grass.  Often we'd see frogs – some pretty large – hopping around.  We always worried we could get warts from touching them!  Anyway, this frog was fairly small, and I wanted to see it hop.  I nudged it from behind with the rod and it hopped a little bit.  I was talking to it, and encouraging it to take more leaps.   Eventually my nudges didn’t work, and the frog just sat there, still.  That’s when I started tapping it on the body.  I think maybe I was getting frustrated because it wouldn’t hop.  My taps increased in force, and in frequency!   I then realized I had killed the frog.  About that time, Mother comes outdoors and finds out what I’ve done.  She marched me into the house and told me to sit at the table, in my spot, at the far end, back to the window.  And the she sat at the other end, looking at me.  Then, in her mother/teacher voice, she gave me quite a lecture on valuing life – all life, including that of little frogs.  She asked me questions about the incident and why I did what I did.  My head already dropped as soon as I had sat down because I knew I had done something wrong.  My mother’s words just reminded me of that.  I admitted I was wrong, and I felt very guilty about killing that frog.  Mother made sure to use the experience as a time for teaching ethics.  Mother was a lover of animals long ago.  She’d kill a snake in a heartbeat, don’t get me wrong, but only because she worried that it could harm one of us.  When it came to frogs and birds and turtles and other creatures, she appreciated and valued them, and she wanted us to grow up respecting “God’s creation," as she likely referred to it back then.

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