The tiny frog frantically swam around in the turquoise colored water. Confused and out of its element, it didn’t know where it was. Somehow it had strayed from the familiar, murky waters of the nearby lagoon and ended up in the swimming pool of the community where we were vacationing.
Like a dark green dot in a sea of aqua, it was evident this frog definitely wanted to go back home!
Three young girls about 4 to 8 years old came upon the befuddled frog in the pool. The older of the girls quickly took matters into her own hands and scooped up the small frog. A flutter of activity ensued on that side of the pool.
The slippery, scared-out-of-its-mind frog had never seen the likes of these girls. It desperately wiggled to freedom on more than one occasion. Try as it might, the frog’s strength paled in comparison with the girls’ power. From one hand to another, they all tried to capture it for several minutes.
Debra, who was walking around in the shallow end of the pool, watched this splashing and spirited commotion. She headed toward the girls to offer help for the frog.
In her sweetest mother’s voice she said, “Girls, the little frog is terribly frightened and you are about to squeeze it to death. Frogs don’t like pool water and the chemicals can be harmful to them. Let’s be kind and set him free.” The smaller of the girls let go of the frog.
The frog mustered up every last bit of strength it had, took a huge leap, cleared the girls and landed near the edge of the pool. The frog then jumped to an area where it assumed it would be safe from these bikini clad bandits, but those girls were out of the pool before the frog could even croak.
The older of the girls set a very bad example and said, “We don’t have to mind that lady! Go get the frog!”
They quickly split up into a seek-and-find mission and it wasn’t long before the tiny frog was again captured. Debra was at her limit about this unfair fight. She approached them once again. They looked at Debra as if she was from outer space.
Debra carefully picked up the frog and set it on its course to safety. She headed back over to me and we assumed the war with the frog was over. Within seconds, the girls jumped back out of the pool to pursue the worn out frog again.
Debra yelled (more sternly this time) from across the pool, “Leave the frog alone!” The girls reluctantly did.
Where were the adults who were supposed to be supervising this trio of girls? It became clear when the mother peered over the pool fence and asked the girls where their daddy was. There he sat, at the other end of the pool, in a deep conversation with another man. The girls could have drowned and he wouldn’t have known it.
As the sun began to hide behind a large group of trees, Debra and I headed back to the house we were renting. On the way back, I asked, “When did small children stop respecting adults?”
Although somewhat rhetorical, later that evening I thought more about it.
When we were growing up, if we had so much as even let the thought of blatantly not obeying any adult cross our minds, we would have been punished. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Mother exclaim, “Mark, you better give your heart to God because the rest of you belongs to me!”
These days, our world is in such a state of upheaval; I can’t help but wonder if some of our issues began when respect wasn’t demanded of children.
To this day, I still say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir” to anyone older than me. And if I can’t tell if they are older than me, I say it anyway. If my granddaddy had ever heard me say “Yeah” to an adult, well, he would have probably taken my heart from God, too!
I still can’t get those three girls’ behavior out of my mind. Unsupervised by an adult, the older girl took charge and, without so much as a thought, the other two followed. It makes me both mad and sad when I see disrespect in any shape, form or fashion. It doesn’t matter if it is aimed toward a tiny frog, a lady at a pool or anyone or anything else.
Respect has to be taught and then reinforced. Although this won’t solve all our issues, it would definitely be a great place to start!
MORE WITH MARK
“The Mark of a Pencil”: Mark’s first one-man art show in 25 years is on display through Aug. 28 at the Macon Arts Gallery, 486 First St. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free.
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him at instagram.com/markcreates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.