Frogs, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails

With the first inkling of warmer weather in the calendar year, there come thoughts of April showers, May flowers, and some good old-fashioned lawn care, gardening, and working the soil with one’s hands. But if you have boys, then you know that when spring makes its first appearance, they’re probably thinking about hiking in the woods, climbing trees, playing in a creek, and generally finding ways to get nice and dirty. Remember the nursery rhyme that says little boys are made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails? I know it’s true of my two teenage sons.

Just recently we enjoyed an unseasonably warm day just perfect for my thirteen- and fifteen-year-old boys to clamber outdoors and explore creation. Temperatures were in the mid 70s under a beautiful Carolina-blue sky. After finishing their lunch chores, the boys quickly gathered the necessities for a hike in the woods. But before they darted out the door, I checked to make sure they weren’t wearing a good pair of pants or their recently purchased indoor tennis shoes. After confirming that they were in proper outdoor play attire, Rachael and I decided to join the boys on their outdoor adventure.

We started with a quick stop at the shallow end of the nearby creek where frogs were in abundant supply and making their voices heard. The boys pointed out several new egg sacs containing the next generation of local amphibians.

It wasn’t long before we found ourselves deep in the woods with no houses in sight. I took a private moment to realize what my sons took for granted: They had the advantage and freedom to blaze new trails that few adults get to experience these days.

The slow-moving creek began to widen as we followed the tributary towards the main stream. We passed a small land mass that years ago the boys’ older siblings had named Sunshine Island. (My sons talked about the name as though it were common knowledge held by anyone who had ever walked this trail.) Along the way we observed deer tracks and a beaver skull. Eventually, our trek led to the larger stream, which was ten feet wide with steadily flowing water.

Our boys pointed out a makeshift covering close by and beamed with pride as they welcomed us to their private fort. The sounds of water flowing and birds singing joined with a gentle breeze to create a truly peaceful setting. For a moment, I let myself pretend that we were lost in the middle of nowhere as we sat together under the fort’s earthen cover, simply relaxing, and time slowed to a crawl.

Soon enough, however, the boys were eager to move on. We followed the lightly worn path along the waterway and eventually crossed a wide section by traversing a fallen tree that bridged the divide. I have to admit, I was a little nervous that I might slip and fall into the water. Fortunately, when I did lose my footing, I caught myself and made only a small splash at the water’s edge. Healthy laughter ensued, and we continued on.

An hour or so later, we arrived back home. After some wholesome fun with the garden hose to remove the worst of the forest’s remains, we had the boys come in through the laundry room in order to strip down before they ventured any further inside. With plenty of boisterous enthusiasm, they removed their dirtiest clothes and were instructed to head upstairs to the showers without touching anything. I followed close behind with clean towels.

After ten long minutes of soap, hot water, shampoo, and loud singing, the boys emerged much cleaner than I expected. Sure, they would probably stay clean only until the next morning, but I’d take what I could get.

Can you relate to having boys (of any age) who are made of frogs, snails, and muddy puppy dog tails? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Post a comment and tell me about your young outdoorsmen and how their enthusiasm and activities bring a smile to your face.

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!

Davis Signature

Davis Carman
© 2017 Davis Carman

Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He blogs at and is the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!

One Response to “Frogs, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails”

  1. Trish says:

    We have forty acres and the boys have found these magnificent boulders on them on the other side of our property. The only boulders I’ve seen in our vicinity. They love to hike out to them and climb them. Living in a more rural setting has been such a blessing for my boys (and us)… even though I do miss the conveniences of city life.

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