hoppy toad alert

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When I was child, I remember reading a version of Charles Perrault's fairy tale "Toads and Diamonds." I'm not sure if it was that version (which is from The Blue Fairy Book). I don't think so, because I distinctly remember the term "hoppy toads," as opposed to simply "toads," from the version I read.

There are days when I wake in the morning and I know that it's going to be a hoppy toad day. Usually it's because I'm wrestling with issues internally that I can't find a way to express in a reasonable way, or that for one reason or another it's not appropriate for me to talk about. That's hard for me, since talking (and/or writing) things out is a big part of how I understand and resolve them. So when I can't discuss things that are bothering me, it tends to make me cranky. When I'm cranky, I get defensive, and tend to interpret much of what's going on around me as criticism and attack (often incorrectly). And when I feel attacked, my facility with language makes it easy for me shape words into deadly projectiles that leave my mouth with a level of speed and force that's almost guaranteed to do damage. Poisonous toads and venomous snakes.

This is not, needless to say, my most lovable personality trait. Happily, as I've gotten older, my ability to control those verbal projectiles has improved...but I'm still not perfect. So when I find myself in a "hoppy toad" mood, as I do today, I generally try to stay away from people. Trying extremely hard to not to open my mouth, for fear of what will emerge if I do.


Updated 29 March 2011 to fix broken links to the story text.

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Another storm rolled in tonight. And a headache rolled in with the lightning and thunder. This storm is as impressive as the one Sunday, but so far doesn't have the moisture. The continuous lightening and thunder can get tiring after a bit. Either that... Read More


The decent thing about the blogsphere is that it tends to forgive this sort of behavior, given the amount of self-awareness and apology that you have already demonstrated with this post.

One of these days you'll probably oops. Go ahead and forgive yourself in advance.

I know what makes *me* grumpy: not enough carbs :).

I worry less about the blogosphere, where there's more emotional distance between me and the people reading what I say. I worry a lot about damage in my direct physical vicinity...and I've had enough "ooops" moments in that domain that it's harder to forgive myself, even in advance.

As I point out to my older son (who has most definitely inherited my facility with language--good and bad), saying you're sorry doesn't undo the damage you've done. (I'm reminded of a friend who quoted to me what a marriage counselor had told him: "Just because you're not kicking her any more doesn't mean she's stopped hurting.")

Today I've actually not done anything I need to apologize for. I'm simply recognizing the warning signs, and hoping I can hole up for long enough that this will pass.

Alex...I _wish_ this were something that could be solved with potato chips or cheesecake. I would gladly substitute carbs (and/or calories) for crankiness. But alas, the equation's a little more complicated today.

(I may indulge in a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie at lunch, however.)

I see what you're saying. I had a boss once (well, she wasn't actually my boss, but -- look, it was complicated) who had the "cranky mug," which a couple of her coworkers would present to her when she was being unbearable.

It, um, didn't help. She was 85% of the reason I left that company.

She, however, used intimidation and coercion as regular parts of her management arsenal, making it all the harder for her to avoid them. I don't think that's what's going on here; and while I freely admit that it's better to avoid damage in the first place, I also know that glue is pretty nifty stuff. :)

Have a cookie on me. I'll send you the appropriate number of BlogShares to pay for one.

Hmmm... Given all that I'm glad you haven't responded to my email from the other day. :-)

And while it may not resolve everything I wholeheartedly agree with Alex's very insightful comments. Sadly, I doubt a simple white chocolate macadamia nut cookie (while a good first step) will completely do the trick. Think cheesecake. Good cheesecake.

It may not be the complete answer to the complications of your equation, but I'll bet it will lend some much needed perspective. Really, really fine food can produce a wonderful, almost out-of-body experience that can put most things in a better light.

Yeah, I'm thinking Indian takeout food tonight, Even without the rice, chicken makhni always seems to make things feel better.

What a nice way to describe it -- I remember this tale, and it's so very appropriate to your description.

Oddly enough, considering we're both so verbal, but when I find myself in the position that you describe, I find myself not wanting to say a thing. It's difficult to even write or post to weblog when I'm in that mood.

Good food. But more importantly, take a bit of time and go for a walk, regardless of the weather. By yourself. Gives you time to pull all those pieces back together again, so gold coins flow rather than toads.

I've come to believe that recognizing the trigger to an undesirable behavior is the first step to productive behavior modification. Increased awareness of oneself through observation is the foundation of mindfulness. A wonderful and insightful analogy, something everyone may benefit from. Liz, I believe you're onto something here.

La Belle Dames Sans Merci! How exquisite. Whenever you are hopping mad, please think of me.

BTW, there's a marvelous retelling of this folktale that was written by Robert D. San Souci with illustrations by Jerry Pinkney. I used to read this to classes every year when I was a children's librarian. Not exactly the same as having the hoppy toads spew from your mouth, but it's still close.





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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on May 6, 2003 11:24 AM.

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