Look at this damned creature.
It’s a tadpole, A very old tadpole. One which endeavors each day to be living evidence in support of the adage, “you can’t avoid growing old, but you can avoid growing up.”
Many months ago, my boy and I captured two tadpoles from a local pond and, over the objections of my wife, began caring for them. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we named the pair Tom and Jack after otamajakushi, the Japanese word for tadpole. The one pictured above, Tom, has grown immensely large, and developed all manner of unsightly warts and ridges about his body, but has steadfastly refused to change into a frog.
This is his brother, Jack.
Jack is my pride and joy. Look at those fully formed legs! That masculine throat sac! Those bulging froggy eyes! Those legs burn with a fully-metamorphosed frog’s energy and that throat sac pulses with a will to embrace life full-throatedly! He possesses amphibian ambition, if you will, to leap fearlessly into the real world.
Tom, on the other hand, is the epitome of a father’s shame. He continues to be a laggard, suckling noisily on the teat of the state, his face fixed in a mask of eternal, otiose boredom. It’s like he wants someone to entertain him or something until he gets his next free meal and if someone doesn’t, well, fine then, he’s just going float there with his vestigial leg nubs dangling and pout. Jack eats crickets now, snatching them up expertly after craftily sneaking up upon them (I taught him to do it). Tom, by contrast, refuses to consume anything but pathetic fish food granules, which he sucks timorously off the surface of the water.
My fathering skills seem to be dramatically evidenced by the example of Jack. But, oh, Tom, where did I go wrong?