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Tag Archive: children

Dec 21

Columns of Christmas Past: The Ones That Got Away

Two amazing women recall stories of campers at Camp Quality, a camp for children with cancer:


Jul 15

Backyard tales of frogs, cats, and a boy and a girl

“What are little boys (and girls) made of? Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails, that’s what little boys (and girls) are made of.”—Nursery Rhyme, adapted

English poet Robert Stouthey (1774-1843) is thought to have first penned the famous nursery rhyme “What are little boys made of”. I added the “and girls” part.

Why? Because one day this week in my backyard, I encountered a little boy and a little girl who told me fabulous tales about frogs, about the ones living in my lawn pond. These two could indeed be made of frogs.

It wasn’t long before their tales about frogs included some incredible stories about cats as well. Cats that also apparently live in my backyard.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the fish in my backyard lawn pond yet. I guess you’ll have to ask the cats about that.

Nevertheless, here is what happened when I was watering my flowers the other day, minding my own business, sort of.

From behind a tall fence that separates the patio and the lawn pond, I heard small voices. Walking around to investigate, I discovered neighbor boy Hunter, age 10. With him was a small girl with beautiful red hair and lovely freckles and about the same age. Neither wore shoes, but I am not sure I have ever seen Hunter in shoes in the summertime.

Hunter introduced me to his best friend Rachael, said they met in school and that they both love frogs and cats. And, thus their fabulous tales began.

Rachael started first, “We brought you our frog Jenn, she is having babies. It all started today and she swole up and she is probably having them right now. So we brought her to your pond and put her on a lily pad. Do you want to see her? There she is and look at her fat belly and funny legs. She is not a poisonous frog though, we had a poisonous one and he had yellow hands. That is how you know if they are poisonous.”

Hunter: “We like your frogs, do you know you have lots of tadpoles, big tadpoles, and you have one orange fish (left) and we named all your frogs. Sometimes we take them back to our house. I love to catch frogs. Do you want to know the names of all your frogs? Some of the frogs wake me in the night. Your frogs are so noisy, but I still love your frogs.”

I looked at Jenn. She rested gratefully on the lily pad. I didn’t think she looked so terribly swollen, but we’ll see how she is in the morning, I thought.

Hunter interrupted my thoughts as he let out an excited squeal: “Look at Tom Cat. Did you see him jump? He does that all the time. Have you seen the cat named Evil in your backyard? We call him that because he is mean, and he is all black.”

I turned just in time to see Tom, the motley gray tomcat, jump probably 2 feet straight up into the air to catch a bug. Then, he crouched in the grass ready to pounce on a field mouse, I presume.

Rachael: “Don’t go near Evil. He lives in the woods by your creek, and he eats baby kittens. There are lots of them down near your creek; did you know that? The Mom is Ginger and she has lots of kittens all the time. We name them all. There is Midnight, who has a star on his chest, and then there is Snowball, she’s a kitten still but is fat because she eats lots of mice. There are lots more and we have them all named but I won’t tell you all their names now.”

Hunter, as he pointed to my herb garden: “What is this?”

“Mint”, I explained. “ I have both peppermint and spearmint.” Then, I picked some and showed them how to rub it between your fingers to get the most wonderful scent. I told them to take it home, wash it, and put it in a glass of lemonade or 7-Up.”

Off they ran with their new favorite thing mint leaves. I finished watering and went inside.

About 30 minutes later the doorbell rang. It was Hunter and Rachael.

Rachael: “Can you come outside and talk? You were so nice to us that we want to talk some more.”

Hunter, holding out his hand with a big frog in it: “And, we brought you Climber, he’s my favorite frog.”

Outside we talked and talked and talked about frogs and cats.

It was the best therapy ever I decided for combating an otherwise tiring and overly busy day.

As I walked back to my front door, I almost went instead to Hunter’s house to ring the doorbell and ask, “Can you and Rachael come out and talk; you were so nice to me.”

Oct 13

Watching the parade of life

“If you’re not in the parade, you watch the parade. That’s life.”  Mike Ditka

People watching is one of my all-time favorite pursuits. It is just like watching a parade.

On a recent long and rather uninteresting road trip, my husband and I stopped at a diner where I got to watch a virtual smorgasbord of travelers. At last, I thought, something to do after miles and miles of nothing to see but tumbleweeds and an occasional hawk on a fence post.  I could watch people.

At first, what I observed caused me a bit of chagrin. Two families were simply too perfect. Picture perfect, in fact. They were traveling together and were dressed almost exactly alike.

The moms, in stylish jeans and trendy spike heels, carried no extra weight on their tall, slim frames. These perfect moms had perfectly gorgeous tri-color weaved hair and French manicures. They carried handbags that were “to die for”.

People watching was not working out as well as I planned because these two gals totally depressed me.

The dads were athletic, rugged, solid kind of guys.  They wore jeans and boots and each had a chic stubble of a beard that looked a lot like “Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest’s.

The perfectly appearing parents had perfect little cherubs that were dressed in clean, perfectly pressed outfits. The angelic children had clean hair and nails. There were no apparent spills on their clothing or on the table; in fact, there were no messes whatsoever. The children did not whine and were not unruly or loud.  The older ones helped the younger ones with their food and drink.

Theirs was a perfect world. I was getting more depressed. I wondered how these people could be so flawless.

Was I on another planet? Had we stopped at some strange world along the highway, a Twilight Zone perhaps?

When I was nearly convinced that I had found an obscure sect of humanity, a miracle occurred. My faith in children was instantly restored.

A perfectly groomed little boy, about 3 years old, sat safely strapped into a booster chair.  Then, oh so quietly so that mom and dad did not see, the little guy kicked off his shoes and slipped out of his seat restraints. He crept behind his dad’s chair and stood quietly behind his mom’s. There he stealthily removed her pricey designer handbag from the back of her chair and darted barefoot for the outside door.

Dad began chase. Utter chaos broke out as the other kids darted for the door, too. A chance to escape, perhaps? Drinks spilled. Food fell to the floor. The moms lost control, or maybe never had it at all.

I love watching parades.

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