Just days after my second son was born, my best friend of more than thirty years sent him a package in the mail. Inside the box was a sweet, soft, light green stuffed frog with a head and arms, and a body that was a sort of blanket-type material. One side of the blanket body was satin-like, and slick, the other side was soft and a little bit fuzzy.
The frog had big, bright eyes, and a sweet little grin on his face. He was adorable, and my son loved him the minute he held that frog in his arms.
From day one, the little frog would sit outside my son’s crib and watch over him while he slept. The cuddly frog sat by and watched us change diapers, watched me breastfeed, listened while my son cried, heard me sing to my baby, and waited patiently as my son grew from a newborn into a toddler.
One day, my son decided to name his favorite stuffed animal, “Froggy,” and he would carry Froggy around under one arm while sucking on a pacifier (his other favorite possession). Froggy went everywhere we did. If my son ate breakfast in his high chair, Froggy sat beside him. If my son watched cartoons, Froggy watched, too. If Froggy somehow got misplaced, my son would walk around repeating, “My Froggy, my paci” (his word for “pacifier”), until Froggy was found and placed under the arm, and the “paci” was rinsed and popped back into my child’s mouth.
At night, my son would curl up next to Froggy, holding him with one arm around his little froggy neck, and with his other hand, my son would rub the satin side of Froggy’s blanket body between his thumb and fingers. He had to perform this routine at bedtime every night or there would be no sleep for anyone in our house. If there was no Froggy to be found at bedtime, every single member of our family would run around the house searching for the animal as if our life depended on finding it. And our lives sort of did depend on finding Froggy.
We were smart parents, though, so we bought two Froggies, just in case Original Froggy was misplaced and we could substitute in Backup Froggy. We were always thankful that although Backup Froggy wasn’t quite as loved and cherished, he would do in a pinch.
We’ve had birthday parties for Froggy. Froggy has been given baths and been combed (even though he has no hair). Froggy has eaten the discarded vegetables off my son’s plate during dinner (with help from the dog, of course). Froggy has forgotten to pick up Legos, left a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on top of the washing machine, and once drew a smiley face, with permanent marker, on a brand new couch.
Last summer we did a complete overhaul of all our “stuff,” sorting through it and making piles of what we would choose to keep, to give away, and to maybe sell at a garage sale. My son and I were looking through all the toys and stuffed animals in his bedroom, when I came upon Froggy. His formerly green coat was faded to almost white. His soft material was matted and dirty. The satin side of his blanket body was ripped and stained.
“Oh!” I said to my son, as I hugged Froggy close, “Look! It’s Froggy! You loved this little guy when you were a baby. You never went anywhere without him.”
My son asked me to tell him as many Froggy stories I could remember. He asked me to tell him about the birthday parties we had for Froggy, and how he would cry and cry if he lost Froggy or left him at a friend’s house after a playdate.
We talked about Froggy and how much my son loved him. We laughed as I patted sweet, little Froggy on his almost bald head. Even my son held Froggy and rubbed his stained, satin, blanket body just like he used to do when he was a baby and trying to fall asleep.
“Mom,” my son held Froggy in his arms, “Are we going to give Froggy away?”
“What do you think?” I asked my son. There was no way on God’s green Earth that we were going to get rid of that frog.
“I think it’s not a good idea to give him away. I think Froggy needs to stay here. Maybe when I get older and have my own kids, I can give Froggy to them.” My son smiled.
I told my son that I thought he was right, that it wouldn’t be a good thing to give Froggy away, and that Froggy would stay with us forever.
My son is now in middle school, and Froggy still sits beside his bed at night and watches over him while he sleeps, waiting patiently for my son to grow, become a man, and have his own children. When that happens, I’m pretty sure there will be many more birthday parties in Froggy’s future, and I plan to attend every single one of them.