the Great Frog Incident of Twenty Sixteen

I spot Eldest from across the school car park and beckon to her. The diminutive figure of my eight-year-old precariously picks her bare-footed way along the gravel path towards the car, backpack shouldered and shoes in hand. This is normal because she attends a Montessori institution nestled against a mountain on the property of a wine farm. The children are surrounded by nature and happily for me this means that school pick up involves the collection of wild-haired and dirty children; sometimes bleeding but always grinning from ear to ear.  Today, however, she’s carrying a box. And the box has holes poked in the lid.

Silkworms. Great! I had silkworms as a kid and the memory is a fond one. On the way home, however, a plan begins to form in my mind. To anyone none-the-wiser, that box could contain anything from a tarantula to a snake, and the opportunity for a little mischief seems too good to simply pass up. If the reasons behind the events that follow in this article seem illogical to you, please refer to my post on How to Irritate your Wife for clarification.

So I tell the girls (Youngest is also in the car) of my plan, and they buy into it. The hands-free mobile system is activated and the following conversation takes place:

*ringing – click*

“Hello babe.”

“Hi hun. Listen, I need you to be calm now. Can you do that?”

“Why? What’s happened?”

“Nothing bad. But I need you to be calm. Can you do that for me?”

In a shaky voice, “Yes?”

“Okay. I’ve just picked up the taller terrorist and she has a school project. She has to bring it home and I said yes because I couldn’t let her be the odd one out in class. It’s in a box and they’re studying its life-cycle.”

“Listen what the . . .”

“Hun it’s a frog. Listen got to drive now, see you in a few. Love you, bye.”

“Wait don’t . . .”

*Beep .  .  . *

I giggled with maniacal glee at my clever little game. The girls too, although a bit warily.

Before I go on, some explanation is required.

Ranidaphobia. More commonly known as the fear of frogs. The wife has it. Before you think me a cruel husband, she is not ranidaphobic to the extent that she’ll flee screaming out the door and down the street while tearing off her clothes if I showed her a photograph of a frog. Nor will she attempt to burn the house to the ground while chanting an exorcism if one happened hop maliciously onto our property. So I gauged that this little jape would earn me a night or two on the couch, nothing more.

So our little troop arrives home and the Wife is gone. Nowhere to be seen. At this stage I’m worrying if I perhaps laid it on a bit thick with the call. Thankfully we located the poor woman, standing outside, safely behind the glass of the patio sliding door. Eldest immediately bolts towards her mommy, proudly brandishing her hole-riddled little box. The Wife’s eyes widen, she blanches, and bless her soul she manages to say through the glass, “Hello baby just quickly show me if you have to and put it away in your room.”

The lid opens and her visage displays emotions ranging from fear to disbelief, to relief, to a penny dropping, to the most thunderous version of THE STARE I’ve ever had the displeasure of being the subject of. For more information on THE STARE, see my earlier post.

I was right about the night on the couch. Add chocolates, flowers and a cold shoulder into the mix. She’s also developed an aversion to silkworms. I’m not entirely sure if it’s to silkworms in general or to that specific batch, housed in that particular box of horrors-that-weren’t.


Yeah it was worth it.