We walked side by side after the rain stopped. The park was almost entirely empty. I guess no one wants to go for a walk right after it rains. He ran on ahead toward the creek.
The thing about 10 year old boys is that anything that’s gross, sticky, bloody or puky is THE most fascinating thing beyond all human reason. “Mom! Mom!” he yelled, “LOOOOOOK! It’s a FRRRROGGGGGG!”
By the time I’d caught up, he was knelt down on one knee. “It’s deeeeaaaad,” he said in a low, slow and reverent tone as he poked the remains of the decedent with a stick.
It wasn’t just dead. That fucker was flat. Flat-Dead. Squished … as if he’d gotten trampled by an entire HERD of bull frogs.
My son was spellbound by the crime scene. “Ew” he whispered, “Look at the guts.” I leaned in closer looking more at my son than the remains.
“Oh,” I said, trying to lighten the moment, “I’m sure the little guy is fine!” I nudged my son gently with my elbow. “Looks like its just sleeping,” I tried to coax a smile.
Silence fell. Blink – pause – blink.
“Mom…” he began as his voice grew frustrated, “Really?! I mean … No. Just … ugh … No! It is NOT sleeping … It’s deeaaad!” Poke. Poke.
“Aw, c’mon now! Don’t be so negative Mr. Gloomy Pants!” I encouraged. “Give the poor little guy the benefit of the doubt! Maybe he’s just tired or maaaaybeeee….” I said trying to rouse his sense of humor, “Mayyybeee he just got back from a huge frog party and he needs some time to recuperate? You know … take a nice little shower? Maybe knock back a juicy quarter-pounder … with cheese?”
Blank looks on 10-year-olds are hard to ignore when they last 6 hours. It’s even harder when you can clearly see the wheels turning as they inwardly battle the inevitable, horrible truth: That they share YOUR DNA. Finally, he broke the silence, “Do you SEE that gray stuff? I’m like a thousand per cent sure it’s his brains.” Poke.
I was determined to make that kid laugh, even in the face of the gruesome scene that lay before us. “Well … that doesn’t mean he’s not okay in a manner of speaking,” I began. “I mean, you could wear him as a hat or maybe you guys could hang out and play Wii? Look!” I said as I used a twig to lift what I think was a leg, “He’s flat enough that I bet you could use him as a Debit Card! You know … you could do a little shopping…?”
I bit my lip and waited for a grin, a chuckle … a something… but no. He sat back on the concrete in utter defeat with his head in his hands. All hope was lost. His mother would never be anything other than weird and that frog would ever be anything other than dead.
I put my hand on my despondent little guy’s shoulder and proceeded tenderly, “Son … Seriously… Never mind what I just said … ” Slowly he raised his head and met my eyes. “Honey … Dead frogs don’t make good Debit Cards … just trust me on this one.”