A Mongolian folktale from “Two Friends”
translated and edited by B. Khurelbat
retold by Sandy Geiger
Long, long ago there lived a young frog that was very lazy. He was sitting by a stream when he saw a fish. The fish was swimming very fast through the clear water. The frog thought it would be wonderful to be able to swim so fast.
“Hello there, Fish,” said the frog. “You swim wonderfully well. Would you be so kind as to teach me to swim that well?”
The fish thought about this. “Ok," said the fish. “But you must work very hard, practice a lot and listen to what I tell you.”
“That is wonderful,” replied the frog. “Can we start swimming lessons today?” The fish agreed and the swimming lessons began.
The first and second day of swimming lessons, the frog practiced and practiced swimming and listened to what the fish told him to do. It really was hard work. The frog got tired of working so hard. He decided to take a nap. As soon as he got comfortable by a small pond, he saw a wild rabbit running as fast as the wind. The frog thought it would be wonderful to run so fast.
The frog went to talk with the fish. “I do believe that I have learned to swim fast and well. I do not want to take swimming lessons anymore.”
The fish laughed at the frog. “You have a lot more to learn if you want to swim like me,” said the fish. “Let’s go practice some more.”
“No, I am tired of practicing swimming, I won’t listen to you,” said the frog. Then the frog went looking for the wild rabbit. He finally found the rabbit.
“I think we must be related,” the frog told the rabbit, “because we both have short front legs and long back legs. I think you run wonderfully fast and I want to run fast like you. Will you please teach me?”
The wild rabbit laughed and laughed at what the frog said. However, the rabbit agreed to teach the frog how to run. The rabbit said, “This will be hard work and you must practice a lot and listen to what I tell you.”
“That is wonderful,” replied the frog. ‘Can we start running lessons today?” The wild rabbit agreed and the running lessons began.
The frog practiced running with the wild rabbit every day. It was really hard work. The frog got tired of working so hard. Soon he got tired of taking running lessons. He told the wild rabbit, “I can run very well now. I do not want to take running lessons anymore.”
The wild rabbit laughed and told the frog, “You have a lot more to learn if you want to run like me.”
But the frog did not listen to the wild rabbit. And should you meet a frog today, you will see that frogs have neither learned how to swim well in water nor to run fast on land. And when a frog is caught by snakes in the water or by little boys on land, he will regret the fact that he stopped taking swimming lessons and running lessons. Probably the frog will be thinking, “Why didn’t I keep practicing swimming and running? It must be true that “Practice makes perfect.”
The frog would give a big sigh and think, “Now it is too late!”
Questions to ponder:
- Why did the frog stop taking his swimming and running lessons?
- What does it mean to regret something?
- Can you think of something you have done or not done in the past that you regret?
- Can you write five sentences using the words “neither and nor”?