Some family traits are passed down generation to generation as consistently as a calendar. From my life angle now, it’s fascinating to see traits in the grandchildren that my children had. Some could discount this as trite or trivial, and maybe it is just sentimental thinking that sees what I want to see, not what is. But then again, in some ways my oldest son, Blake, and his soon to be four year old son, Cooper, are remarkably the same!
Case in point, frogs.
As a small boy Blake had a fetish for frogs. Wet, squishy and squirmy didn’t bother him in the least. Each summer the toads showed up in drolls by the back porch to feast by the glow of incandescent light bulbs at night. And if there is an all night, all you can eat bug buffet, what better thing is there than an amphibian Motel 6 in the crevices of stones by the back door? When the sun came up, the frogs went nighty night hiding in the dark crevices of the rocks.
A little two year old Blake would hunt and capture the leaping lords of the night when I turned on a water hose to flood the rocks forcing the frogs out with high waters. Once his chubby little fingers grabbed one, he’d carry around a frog in utter delight.
Three years later he’d do it himself. He’d take a five gallon bucket and catch a horde of frogs for a fiesta like party, and then entertain two younger brothers, Jared and Todd outside four hours on end.
Todd, Blake and Jared Rab with a bucket of frogs
Fast forward 24 years….
For the first time ever last summer, I went bull frogging at the river one night with Blake and Todd. Two decades hasn’t made much difference in either of them, except their age and expertise, because their reactions to catching toads as a small boys and bullfrogs as grown men is the same. With as much gusto as a starving man after a hamburger, they would swipe, grab, jump and dive spread eagle out of the boat onto the bank to catch the green prey barehanded!
I was much more cautious looking first by flashlight for the red glowing of reptile eyes above water that had alligator teeth beneath, and then would double check the banks for snakes before even considering pouncing on a bullfrog. Not them! Ugh uh!
Any professional baseball player would be proud to make the same kind of one handed, diving catches after flying airborne parallel to the ground. Never mind the gators, snakes, briars, brush or rocks potentially in the way. There were huge bullfrogs to catch, and the same wonder that was in the little boys was present in a men!
I guess it should come as no surprise that today Cooper has the same propensity to catch and carry frogs as his daddy did 24 years ago. It’s déjà vu, really, to see Cooper’s digital picture so closely resembling Blake’s VHS tape version. Honestly, it’s an automatic smile maker to see Cooper carry a frog, without thought, care or hesitation, through his very own backyard jungle.
Maybe catching frog families is in the genes? Maybe it’s just a learned behavior, but somehow, I doubt it. It seems too hard wired into personality not to be passed down through DNA. It’s not just that they both did the same thing, or better said, do the same things. It’s that there is a look in their eyes that is the same. Sure their eyes resemble, but it’s the look in that twinkle that reflects the light from the dark part of their eyes that is the same. It’s that expression satisfaction, amazement and wonder that shines innocent, childhood fun!
Regardless, I hope it continues. Nature and the outdoors are good mentors.
Frogs, fish, fowl and friends, they make great conversations and long lasting memories of today. Even more important, it’s an anchor planted deep in the heart of a little boy that doesn’t grow up behind the whiskers of a man.
Go catch all the Kermits and cursed Prince Charmings you can Cooper! In 24 years, I suspect you and your son will still be doing the same hoppy thing!!
Cooper showing off a frog he caught