By Christian Dotson
“Mother, I think you may need to make Chrissy drop out of Pathfinders,” my older brother Tony announced one afternoon. “Ever since she’s been working on her amphibians honor, she’s gone a little loopy.”
“I am not loopy!” I insisted. I had to raise my voice to be heard over the sound of my youngest brother Timothy, who sat on the kitchen floor banging away at a pot with a wooden spoon.
“You’re imagining that you see frogs and toads everywhere, even in rocks!” Tony replied. “If that’s not loopy, I don’t know what is.”
“I’m not imagining things,” I said. “It really is a toad!”
“It’s a rock,” said Tony. “R-o-c-k, rock. The same size and color and shape as all the other rocks out there.”
“Rock?” My other little brother, Matthew, burst into the kitchen. “Where’s the rock? Can I have it?”
Matthew had recently become fascinated with rocks. It made sense. Since moving into our new house in the country over two years ago, very little grass had managed to grow, leaving us with a backyard that was about 90 percent rocks. What else was a boy going to play with?
Still, seeing as how Matthew’s favorite activity was smashing rocks into bits using even bigger rocks, I wasn’t about to let him have the one I had just found. Especially since it was not a rock!
“What’s going on?” Mom asked. Her arms were elbow-deep in the sudsy water that filled the sink as she washed dishes. “You found a rock that looks like a toad?”
“Barely looks like a toad,” said Tony.
“You hardly glanced at it!” I exclaimed. “It is a toad, but it won’t move, so I left it out there. I guess it’s dead.”
“I wouldn’t be too sad,” said Tony. “Rocks were never alive to begin with.”
“It is not a—“ I started to say. Mom stopped me by shoving a clean water pitcher into my hands.
“Here,” she said. “Go pour water on the toad.”
I stared at the pitcher. “But, Mom,” I said, “it really is dead. It won’t move at all.”
“Rock,” Tony whispered.
“Just trust me,” Mom said. “I may be a mother, but I do know a thing or two about amphibians. Go pour water on your rock and see what happens.”
I accepted the pitcher and headed outside. Matthew followed. He helped me fill the pitcher and carry it across the dry, dusty yard to where I had found the toad. It was exactly as I had left it.
“It sure looks like a rock,” said Matthew. “But a really cool, toad-shaped one. After we wash it, can I have it? I promise not to smash it.”
“We’re not washing it,” I said. I was now pretty sure I understood why Mom had given me the pitcher. We’d been having some very hot, dry weather lately. Our backyard was like a desert to a toad. Maybe toads had some special defense that allowed them to go into a kind of hibernation when they got too dry. If so, then giving them water might just do something.
“It’s moving!” Matthew yelled as we poured water on the toad. “The rock is moving!”
Sure enough, the toad had begun to wiggle and move its legs. In a few more minutes it was hopping across the dry dirt.
That day I learned something new about amphibians that I could share with my Pathfinder club.
That day also marked the end of my little brother’s fascination with rocks. From that moment on, nothing got him quite as excited as toads.
The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, March 14!
Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!