A Tadpole Tale

It was a warm school day. I knew that because I was only six or seven years old, and I was, indeed, in school. Senior Infants, to be exact. Behind my school, there was a small garden area- although given my tiny size, it may as well have been an Olympic stadium. It was filled to the brim with tall, brittle grass, and within it was a large pond, occupied by small water striders gracefully dancing on its surface. The most notable guests in this small area however were the frogs. You had to watch your every step for fear of squishing the tiny, browny-grey amphibians, which was made even more terrifying as a God (and Santa)-fearing Catholic boy. I thought they were strangely cute, despite their slimy texture and bulging eyes: they were the underdogs of the pond.
As part of a small nature study in my class, we gathered some frog spawn and monitored them closely until they turned into tadpoles. It must have been my favourite lesson from that year because it is the only one that I can remember.
The only other thing I can really remember in vivid detail are the days I spent at home, with my parents tending to me as parents should. Doing gardening, watching cartoons, playing with them, dressing up as Batman and Spider-Man, listening to bedtime stories, the works. In some sort of amalgamation that my mind has likely swirled together as I’ve gotten older, I’ve recently started associating my memories of the frog experiment with spending time with my parents. The most logical reason that I can think of the two overlapping is because of a fact I learnt in my later years: as it turns out, many species of frogs are meant to be very caring parents.
The website I visited noted that the females of some frog species keep a regular check on their tadpoles. If food becomes scarce, she will leave her unfertilised eggs for them to eat.
The same website also revealed that, in the case of poison dart frogs, they lay their eggs on the forest floor so they can guard them and urinate on them to keep them moist (although I would not recommend this practice for human parents!).
I remember being so enamoured seeing the tadpoles swim in the pond, and within no time, there were more Kermit’s and Kermetta’s to watch your step for in the near the pond. As for the emotional connection, whatever slim, maybe my own mind is subconsciously relating it to my six-year-old mindset of my parents. They were my be-all and end-all, my guiding voices, my sources of comfort whenever I was sad. They still are, all these years on.
I suppose my interpretation of this weird ramble is that hearing the fact that many frogs are doting, devoted parents made me truly realise how similar humans and animals are. I suppose it also shows that, in addition, nature doesn’t have to always be so unforgiving. I have always had a soft spot for dogs thanks to being exposed to so many of them over the years. While that was my introduction to loving animals, I believe that learning about frogs as parents, combined with the memories of studying them, is what made me truly understand my respect towards animals all these years later. To me, they are invaluably precious to our world- similar to how my own parents are precious to mine. I just hope they don’t mind me comparing them to frogs, though.