Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kissing Frog Catchers

     Being a frog kisser is not a job for the faint-hearted.  It doesn't end for holidays or weekends or summer vacations.  Frogs pop up in your thoughts constantly.  You even dream about them.  People begin to wonder how many "kids" you have anyway?  Frogs are slimy and warty and green and sometimes their voices croak. No, it is not a job for the faint-hearted.  It is a job for people who can see past appearances and see the beauty hidden inside.
     Don't become a frog kisser if you don't like frogs.  It doesn't pay well.  Frog kissers don't get much respect. It isn't a prestigious position, and few become famous.  The only thing we have is our frogs.  Why stay if you can't stand the swamp or the flies or the frogs?
     It is hard to go into a swamp day after day and kiss frogs.  Some frogs don't want to change.  They want to be left alone in their misery.  Other frogs are eager to share and follow you around endlessly croaking.  Some frogs have forgotten who they are and believe their froggy bodies are the best they have to look forward to in life.  Sometimes frogs get lost and take their own lives.  Those are the worst times of all. 
     Frog catchers have forgotten how to be frog kissers.  Frogs don't croak or hop to annoy frog catchers.  They are just being frogs.  They don't get slimy and warty because they are lazy slobs.  They are just frogs dealing with froggy bodies.  They aren't green because they are stupid.  Green just means they are new versions of themselves.  It's pretty hard being a frog.  You don't need to remind them of their imperfections.  They catalog them every day without us catching them in our frog-catching-nets.  
     Maybe I should start kissing frog catchers.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


     If anyone understands stereotypes, it is a frog.  We talked about stereotypes this week to understand the characters in The Outsiders.  I learned more about my frogs in ninety minutes than I had in ninety days of school. 
     I spent last year listening to a boy's teachers complain about everything he did and everything he did not do.  During our class discussion this week, he raised his hand and said, "Why does everybody think I am just a dumb Mexican?"  His voice shook with emotion as he looked at me for an answer.  
     Another boy told us people stereotype his mom because she dropped out of school to have him when she was thirteen.  Another shared his story of being poor and being judged because of the clothes he wears.  A girl chased out of school by racism hoping to start over in our school.  Kids jumping other kids because of the way they looked.  Being seen as too feminine in a masculine world.
     I learned a powerful lesson this week.  Stereotypes leave scars that don't heal.  It is bad enough that we do that to one another as kids.  It is deplorable when we do that to our children.  I vow to stop judging my students and listen to their stories of who they are.  Listening leads to understanding and understanding leads to love.  It is only through love that frogs become the royalty they were meant to be.