A Frog Named Swimmy

When the boys were little, we went to a program called Family Swim. It was simply the opportunity to use an indoor swimming pool at a local highschool. We did it because, well, what else were we going to do on a Friday night with three kids all under the age of 5? And we wanted to keep them swimming through the winter so we wouldn’t have to deal with the fear factor each summer.

The added benefit was that the boys often fell asleep on the way home and we’d carry them up to their beds and be off duty from all other bedtime rituals. A lot of work went into the evening, but this payoff was huge. Bedtime rituals could last several hours at our house.

Family Swim Prep began at 4pm. There was feeding and dressing and bathing-suit finding. There were fights to break up and tears to wipe dry. It was always worth it. For more than just the falling asleep in the car part, too. To see them jump off the diving board for the first time. To play in the water together in the middle of February. We have many happy memories of Family Swim.

When Don was out of town on a Friday, I rarely attempted Family Swim on my own. It was just too hard. But as the boys got older, it became a little more manageable. And so, it came to pass, the four of us journeyed out to Family Swim one rainy Friday night. I can recall nothing of the actual hour swim time. The excitement occurred after that.

After buckling everyone into carseats, we headed out of the parking lot. Window wipers going, rain teeming down, hopeful thoughts of sleeping boys dancing through my head.

And then it happened. FROG. Frog in the road!

I really don’t know how they saw him. He was a little green spot blurred by the torrents of rain.

I tried to convince them that he’d be fine. He was just heading home to his family. We could sit and watch him go.

Three little heads shook.  Three sets of eyes pleaded with mine. They needed to get out and take a look.

OK, go ahead. But we are NOT bringing him home. NO.

So out they scurried, three little boys in little boy pajamas, standing in the rain, taking turns holding the biggest frog I had ever seen. He was huge. Easily half the size of a little boy’s head. And there the three of them stood, passing him down the line from oldest, to middle, to youngest.

I knew what was coming.

Please mom. Please. Can we bring him home?

They just looked so darned cute in those little pajamas. I couldn’t say no. They needed this frog.

OK.

Upon entry to the car, he was on the loose. Like a wild thing, he was frantically hopping from seat to steering wheel, to headrest. I screamed and screeched and laughed and howled. And then they caught him again and took turns holding him tight until we got home.

And THAT is how we got Swimmy the frog.

He became an instant celebrity in our neighborhood. Kids wanted photos taken with him. They wanted to hold him and pet him and feed him. One little girl asked if she could dress him up. Of course, we had a hopping contest. We built mazes. We filled the tub to watch him swim. I believe there was absolutely no TV watched while Swimmy lived with us.

We couldn’t have had him for longer than a week. I honestly don’t remember.  It wasn’t long, but it seemed a lifetime all the same. We fed him crickets from the local pet shop and kept him in an old fish aquarium. We filled it with mud and water from the backyard. Just enough to make him feel at home. But, I explained to the boys, he wasn’t really home. He had a family waiting for him. Maybe three little frog boys looking for their dad to take them to family swim. He had to go.

The boys and I brought him to the wood close to where we found him. We set him free and he sat for awhile before hopping away. He did not look at us. There was no eye contact made. We cried and worried if he’d find his family again. We hadn’t known him for long, but we loved that frog.

Family Swim was never quite the same after that. It was still fun, but nothing could ever compare to our night with Swimmy the Frog. I wonder if he thinks of us, too.

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