Frog, Frogs, Arlo & Susie, The Frog Prince, and Me

Mamacita says:  Sometimes I wonder how I ever decided to become a teacher, what with my lower-than-low opinion of people who aren’t interested in lifelong learning, my intolerance and complete disdain of willful ignorance, my disregard of any rule that I personally find stupid, and my total lack of interest in staying inside any kind of box.  I now know it’s because I want as many people as possible to also think outside the box, detest willful ignorance,  strive to CHANGE stupid rules, and be lifelong learners, but at the time, I had a different reason.

I had spent the first two and a half  college years declaring and changing majors; I was interested in so many things, it was hard to choose just one or two.  Then I remember Dad saying something about how if I didn’t declare a major and actually stick to it he was going to cut me off, blah blah blah, and suddenly an education degree started looking pretty good, not to mention easy, and please, teachers, don’t start in on me for saying that because we all know it’s true, more’s the pity. At least, back in the seventies it was true, for it was the era of “If you don’t want to take math or economics, etc,  you may substitute something else and have it count,” which explains all those diverse endorsements sprinkled all over my teacher’s license.

I hated math, so I took PE. All the biological science labs were at 7:00 a.m., so I took School and Community Health and Advanced Expository Writing. Astronomy and Geology both met at night, so I took them both, and I LOVE them to this day. LOVE them!!!!!

I didn’t exactly write my own degree requirements, but I might have messed with them a bit.  Or maybe, more than a bit.

I signed up for Advanced Mammalian Physiology one semester, although it did have a 7:15 a.m. lab. I had a perfectly good, logical reason: My boyfriend was in that class. I went into it with no prerequisites, no interest, and half-comatose because it was so early in the day.  I’m really not interested in much of anything at that hour.

I liked it at first.  Surprisingly, I did pretty well at first – I tend to throw my whole self into things I like –  and then, a full week AFTER drop-and-add was over, we had our first lab. We were each given a live frog and told not to give him a name.

It was too late. I have always anthropomorphized everything (ask my kids!) and my sweet little froggie was named Prince Charming the very moment I lifted him out of the box and made him my own, because he looked exactly like the Frog Prince in the Classics Illustrated, Junior, comic book I read in second grade, which, by the way, I still have.

My instructions were to spread-eagle Prince Charming in a corkbox, pin down his little hands and feet, and make an X-shaped incision on his little white tummy. We were then instructed to fold back the four triangles of skin, observe his beating heart and inflating/deflating lungs, aim a fan at him, and time how long it took the internal organs to stop functioning.

I walked out and never went back. I walked out with Prince Charming in my pocket, and I set him free in the River Jordan, the gorgeous big creek which flows all over the IU campus. A raccoon probably ate him, but that’s still a better fate than death by having your internal organs exposed to the gush of air from a fan and having the whole ghastly thing timed.  Arlo would have been proud of me. *

It was too late to drop the course, so even though I was actually doing quite well on the tests and small group discussions, I failed the class because my labs were all zeros.

I have never regretted that decision.

*Parents, this little film and its sequel are wonderful; order now and let your kids experience the fun and the excellent lessons.  Also?  Your kids will be singing “That’s Amore” all over the house – what fun!  (I bet most of you saw this movie on TV when you were kids.  I still love it – and the sequel.)

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