When I was a little girl, my favorite book to read was a simple collection of stories called Frog and Toad Are Friends. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Frog and Toad series follows two main characters – Frog and Toad, natch – who are basically the odd couple.
Frog is a laid-back type of dude; Toad is an uptight worrywart (no pun intended). Their antics together are simple but the messages in the books are profound – which is why, when I came across a multi-book compilation called Adventures of Frog and Toad at Marshall’s the other day, I absolutely had to buy it (only $7.99 hardcover!).
I turned immediately to my favorite story, the one about Frog writing Toad a letter. Poor little Toad lamented that no one would ever send him a letter; every day he would wait for the mailman and every day he would be disappointed. Finally Frog decided to write Toad a letter so he wouldn’t be sad, but the postman didn’t deliver it on time, so Toad still didn’t believe that Frog really wrote him one, which in turn made him sadder. Eventually everything was sorted out, but I just remember being brought to tears thinking about poor Toad, sitting on the stoop, completely convinced that no one would ever send him a darn letter.
In a way I couldn’t possibly have understood as a child, I now realize that I have learned the lesson in that story time and time again: even if it seems like you aren’t ever going to get out of the situation you are in, or get the job you want, or find the partner you want, or make the money you want – the wheels may already be in motion without you even knowing about it. Frog had already written the letter when Toad decided to give up on the mailman; the letter was on the way whether Toad believed in it or not.
Life has shown me time and again that sometimes it is important to have faith even when it seems hopeless, and to stay earnest even when it seems like a waste of time and energy. You never know who/what is “writing you a letter” right now, as we speak, something on the edge of delivery into your life to remind you that believing in something, wanting something, hoping for something – it matters.
What’s your favorite children’s book? How has its message affected your adult life?