Gift Horse


Whether for a birthday, anniversary, graduation, Father’s Day, bar mitzvah, parole hearing, promotion, orΒ just because we choose gifts for special people in our lives to represent our feelings about them on their special occasion.

Brides are given gifts that are useful in setting up a new home. College graduates might receive a professional-looking black leather briefcase or maybe a fancy pen.

And don’t forget the oohs and aahs associated with baby shower gifts of onesies and cuddly blankets.

What about someone going off to college for the very first time, learning to take care of themselves for the very first time with no parental involvement? No reminders of when-to-d0-what?

What would the perfect gift be for them?

Maybe an alarm clock, a bottle of multi-vitamins, laundry soap, an umbrella, an endless supply of clean underwear, or maybe a bottle of aspirin and a box of band-aids?



Amphibious frogs that live in a tiny tank and spend their whole lives imitating fish with legs.

Apparently when you are just learning to be responsible for yourself, remembering to eat on a regular basis and do your own laundry, the next logical step is to give you two more lives to be responsible for.

My son came home from a good friend’s house with two frogs, given to him by the friend’s mother as a going away gift.

He thought they were pretty cool, but it was a total surprise to him.

And me.

I’m pretty sure this breaks section 5, article 23 of The Mom Code, which stipulates “under no circumstances are you to gift anything that breathes or poops to the child of another mother.”

But off to college the frogs went, sloshing around in their plastic prison tank and most likely getting carsick on the way.

I’m so skeptical they’ll survive life in the dorms that I’ve actually wagered money on them.

But at least I know what to buy a certain friend when he goes off to college in two years.


  1. No living breathing things – ever as gifts.
    EVERYONE knows that!
    Altho, I have had friends give us an ant farm, sea monkeys and a butterfly house … funnily enough we don’t speak anymore … but it wasn’t really over that πŸ˜‰

  2. I am so confused over this whole situation. Why oh why would she gift anyone’s child but her own with a living gift? Let alone one who is going to be living in a dorm room? Scratching head. Nope. Still don’t get it.

    Up the ante. Forget when her child goes to college. Go buy them a puppy. Today. (Kidding. Kind of.)

  3. Frogs? Maybe it’s a Fenshui way of forcing them to be responsible. Knowing that something is counting on them to live and breath is the catalyst for other acts of responsible spontaneity… it’s a stretch but one never knows about these things.
    Good Luck Frogs!

  4. That is the most bizarre graduation gift ever. And yes, she absolutely broke the Mom Code – that’s up there with goldfish as party favors. Please don’t give me anything I can kill, because there’s a good chance I will.

    I’d wager against their making it, too. There are way more important parties – oops, I meant classes – to focus on.

  5. Erm, thanks? That is odd. I can see buying like a bucket to carry their shower stuff in and filling it with useful items. But frogs?

    Yeah, I’d definitely get her son an iguana or something when it’s time for him to leave the nest.

  6. Doh! Why would that mom gift that?

    Though I feel bad for the lil froggies. I have a feeling dorm life – and wild college boys – won’t be good to them.

  7. Are you due they’re not secret magic frogs that….

    You know what? I’ve got nothing.

  8. Frogs?


    Who is going to change their water? ANd make sure that the tanks are cleaned?

    You know who. No one, that’s who.

    What do you get someone who leaves…

  9. OMG you are totally going give him dead frogs in two years aren’t you? That is brilliant.

  10. OMG, can’t stop laughing. I’m impressed the amphibians actually made it to college…I thought for sure this post was going to end with you as “mommy” to foster frogs.
    I got a popcorn popper for graduation. Frogs are way cooler…but I hear you on the Mom Code!

  11. Frogs? Really….. huh.

    I don’t get it.

    Guess this means you can get her kid a hamster.

  12. Hee! That nothing-that-poops rule is for sure set in stone!


  13. That’s just not right. I’d give him a puppy right now. Seriously.

  14. I sense a gecko in a certain kid’s future.

    That’s a total violation of the law.

    I remember that we had a rule that fish were the only pets allowed, but they must be non-carnivorous. I really want to know what poor RA had to stick her or her finger in a tank to test the fish’s eating preference.

    I’ve made my “you’re going away to college” present a lava lamp. Just because.

  15. Okay, that’s an awesome gift. Who doesn’t like the guy in the dorms with frogs?

    No one, that’s who.

  16. WTF? Are they from a different culture? This is so strange!

  17. Now your son can be the guy who says this to the ladies of the university:

    “Hey. Wanna come back to my dorm room and see my amphibious frogs? I have TWO of them…”

    Or not.

    Yeah. Let’s go with not.

  18. Love Julie’s comment.

    But seriously, frogs? Not cool. Even if it looks cool, it ain’t. You should get this kid a puppy when he goes off to college. Maybe two of them.

  19. How bizarre! Frogs, huh?

    Not a fan of gifting pets. Ever.

  20. Totally breaks the mom code! Never ever gift a pet!

  21. So, to recap, gifts are for:
    *showing your feelings toward that person
    *equipping someone with what they need for their new stage in their life

  22. Living creatures, college boys, and dorm rooms just don’t mix. That can’t end well.

    Who doesn’t know the rule of not gifting living creatures to others?! πŸ˜‰

  23. I gave goldfish away as a party favor for my oldest’s 2nd birthday. Some of the mothers were thrilled. Some were totally annoyed.

    Some of the fish lived 3-4 years! By then, I’d learned that rule.

  24. Such a breaking of the Mom Code. Ouch. But why the frogs? Why not a turtle or a gecko? Maybe he’ll meet a girl and she’ll take them over….

  25. What?
    That is the worst gift ever?
    What is wrong with that woman????
    No, NO, NO!
    Bad gift choice…
    Have I said too much?

  26. Well, at least he didn’t try leaving the frogs with YOU!!

  27. How could she? naturally you will have to go bigger when returning the favor. Toad at the very least.

  28. we weren’t even allowed to have living creatures other than plants in the dorm when i was in college.


    great, now your son is the dude with frogs in the dark in his room.

    unless they are for licking.

    then, um, carry on. he is now the most popular kid on campus.

  29. That’s awesome. Frogs? How random.

    But I think I have one that violates another section of the parent code. For a newborn gift, someone gave my son a BB Gun. That’s right. Not a onesie, not a soft blanket–a firearm. Um, in what world is that okay?

    “Thou shalt not arm another’s infant.”

    Don’t you think?

  30. Um, hilarious!!! Frogs? What the heck? My gift was a laundry bag with the instructions written on it, since I had never done a load in my life. True story. Just wrote about it recently. I still suck at it too. : )

  31. And this is that same kind of mother who would give someone else’s toddler drums or a keyboard. Will wait for ypur dead frogs tweet. πŸ™‚

  32. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    They sell frogs like that in our town’s Hallmark store and I’ve always thought it was a little odd because, as you’ve pointed out, nothing says “Congratulations on your Retirement!” or “Get Well Soon!” like frogs in a tank.

    Of course, my four year old loves to look at them. He might even be willing to take them off your hands, but if you passed them in to him, you’d be breaking the Mom Code. It seems you just can’t win. πŸ™‚

  33. Seriously, who *does* that!?
    And “section 5, article 23”? Giggle.
    Say the word and I’ll help you bury them…or flush them? πŸ˜‰

  34. Hahaha! Those frogs don’t stand a chance in the dorm!

  35. What? Who does that? Never, never give another person’s child a living breathing gift. Really? Who does that? Those frogs are going to be toast once they enter that dorm.

  36. If they make it to Christmas, I bet you will become a frog grandma who takes care of their grandfrogs.

  37. Aw, Sherri. You give gifts for parole hearings? What a thoughtful friend you are!

    I’m not sure what that other mom was thinking, but on the other hand, that is just hilarious. And it sounds like I’m in the minority here, but I’m guessing the frogs will be well fed. You’ve heard of the Freshman 15, right?