My son catches frogs and keeps them in a “tertarium”.
He names them and tries to hunt down moths for them to eat.
We have to buy crickets for their dinner, because he’s not as good of a moth-hunter as the frogs would be if they weren’t living in a plastic, ventilated box.
It started with two, whom he creatively named Cayden and London, as if they were twins wearing matching dungarees.
Yesterday, the opportunity to populate the terrarium rose exponentially. There, just sitting on the boulders in our front landscape were three more frogs. One of them–and this is exciting stuff– is emerald green instead of puddle-brown.
I agreed to buy the terrarium and crickets because, although the nightsongs of the frogs in the spring-fed ponds down the hill tell me that they aren’t suffering in numbers, I want him to know that with the opportunity to catch and keep the critters comes the responsibility to care for them as well. So we keep them fed and watered. And he gives them lots of love.
It’s a lesson I’ve had the privilege to teach before: his three older siblings were frog-catchers, too.
I don’t like keeping them in cages in the bedrooms of my house. I think it’s icky and a little bit sad. But, there is a classroom full of learning that can come from a frog in the palm of his hand, so I choose to come alongside and teach.
And this frog husbandry makes me think of the small opportunities that we so often brush off, and those daily graces that go unnoticed because we fail to catch them, wriggling and alive, in our bare hands.
This same son, my youngest, is also a break-dancer. He is remarkably entertaining as he pops and locks and flips and spins. He throws his body around with invincible passion.
We snuggled on the couch the other night, me, tired from doing life on a broken-and-healing leg, he, still bouncing off walls at 9 p.m. I pulled him into the space of my arms, he’s the only one of my kids who still fits in that cocoon embrace. he asks, “Mom, what’s your talent?” Before I reply, he says, “I know one thing you’re very good at is cookering. You’re a great cooker.”
“Oh, you think so? Thank you. What’s your talent, Nikko?”
“Dancing. I love to dance and I’m good at it. I’m good at writing words, too. And I can spell big words like, ‘people’.”
He rattled off a half dozen other talents, then told me I’m good at drawling: “You’re the best drawler in the family, mom.”
And I hold him and think of my other kids spread across the household, still within my mother-reach. Bella, with her laptop taking an on-line test, Annalia, her nose in a Series of Unfortunate Events book, Zach, in his room face-timeing with his girlfriend. With all I am I want to to pull them into this scooped-out hollow, where my heart beats and my arms wrap round. And I think of the oft-repeated phrase: there’s always next time, next year, next weekend.
No, there’s not. Always. Next time.
There’s now. This time. This moment of serendipitous beauty, like when Nikko saw the frogs sunning shiny, smooth backs on the rocks. Opportunity doesn’t always present itself the same way, next time, next week, next year.
Last fall, I lay mostly in bed, recovering from multiple injuries caused by the drunk driver who pulled into the highway, crashed into our van and literally shifted the trajectory of our lives.
The lesson in the palm of my hand was this: make the most of every opportunity. Whatever opportunity glimmers in the sunshine of the present and catches my eye, make the most of it. Use it to present the hope and the joy I have in life, in knowing Christ, in the richness of his love.
Always be prepared to grasp at opportunity’s ethereal, shimmering tails and let it take you…. You may not have next time.
Linked up with the writers at The Gypsy Mama, for 5 Minute Friday