I don't think I would be guilty of understatement if I said that the Frog and I don't see eye to eye. She's been living with us for more than six years now, and as far as I'm concerned, she's already overstayed her welcome by a good five and a half years. I've even tried offloading her onto the owners of the old Fin 'N Fur pet store on Morris Avenue, but as soon as they saw what I was carrying, they closed up shop.
Granted, indulging my kids' passion for the animal kingdom is part of my job as a mom. We have a dog, and we even had an adorable hamster who, like all good houseguests, had the good sense to depart to the Big Hamster Wheel In The Sky after a year and a half. But as She Who Is In Charge of Pet Maintenance, Hygiene and Training, my general philosophy is that the grumpier the pet is or the harder it is to take care of, the shorter their stay in my household should be.
Originally, the Frog-That-Won't-Die came to our home in an attempt to introduce my daughter to—Creationists, please cover your ears—the Miracle of Evolution. At the time, it was a tiny, adorable tadpole: it floated merrily around a fist-sized tank, twirling it's little tail over it's head and consuming the tadpole food that cost more than a pound of Colombian coffee and could only be purchased from the company that sent us the tadpole. Sure enough, after consuming a fair amount of the very expensive tadpole food, she absorbed her tail, grew legs and arms, and proceeded to take over my life in what I consider to be a fairly aggressive manner for a frog.
The literature that came with the tadpole says that the resulting Frog is supposed to grow no bigger than a half dollar and is generally thought to be fairly short-lived. Not a bad deal, I thought, considering that you also get a lesson in biology for good measure.
I see now that the company was lying to me. At the point where the Frog grew to the length of a whole dollar bill, bit me on a regular basis when I tried to clean the tank and looked like it might just outlive me, I called their customer service department and politely inquired as to whether they had perhaps gotten their information wrong.
"Did you put the frog in a larger tank?" the bored customer service rep asked.
"Well, yes," I admitted. "She looked so cramped in the 'Tadpole Box-O'-Fun'. It's barely larger than a postage stamp."
"Never put the frog in a larger tank," the rep droned, sounding strangely like she was reading from a script. I began to wonder how many times a day she read this warning to the unsuspecting parents who only wanted to share some educational bonding time with their kids. "Your adorable aquatic pet will increase in size in direct proportion to the size of its home. Also, do not feed it after midnight."
"Speaking of feeding, how much is she supposed to eat? She seems very… hearty."
"Your adorable, educational, aquatic friend can eat up to an ounce of Friendly Frog granules each day," the rep went on. "You can even teach it tricks to perform for its food."
"Let me tell you about tricks," I said, starting to get a little annoyed. "This frog is in the habit of grabbing the little plastic granule spoon out of my hand, swimming to the bottom of the tank and trying to mate with it. My kids may be scarred for life."
"Do not allow your kids to be scarred for life…" she said, as the sound of a nail file scratched in the background.
I hung up and resigned myself to the fact that I might have to make provisions for the Frog in my will.
Anybody want a Frog?