I used to have this great shower curtain that was a big colorful cartoon of the life cycles of the frog and the butterfly.
Well, I thought it was great. For a while. But the thing with a shower curtain is that you see it every day. You look at it while you’re brushing your teeth and while you’re peeing and while you’re spacing out wondering what you came into the bathroom to get; oh, was it the sunblock you were looking for?
And then, at least if you’re me, you start over-analyzing the damn shower curtain. The illustrations. Word choice. Which words are explained in context (molting!) and which aren’t (spawns). And then you grow irritated at decisions and assumptions made by the people who designed this educational shower curtain, people trying to teach kids something about the natural world.
Let’s see if you react the same way I did. Here’s the text of the curtain.
A caterpillar grows inside an egg.*
When the egg hatches, she eats the shell to get nutrients.
She begins to eat leaves to get bigger.
She hides in leaves to survive.
As she gets bigger, she sheds her skin 4 or 5 times before she is fully grown. This process is called molting.
After the last time she molts, her skin hardens and she is encased in a chrysalis.
When the chrysalis splits open, a little butterfly comes out!
She pumps fluid to expand her wings. Once her wings are dry, she practices flapping them and then flies off.
*Would that make a better joke– What came first, the caterpillar or the egg?
No? Not the same ring to it? Okay.
And then: our friend the frog.
Frog eggs grow in egg spawns. A tadpole grows inside each clear egg jelly.
When the tadpole gets big, he wiggles out of his egg and starts eating the jelly.
The tadpole has gills to help him breathe under water.
As he keeps eating, he gets bigger.* Soon he grows a very strong tail for swimming.
A few weeks later, the gills move back inside the body and the tadpole grows two hind legs.
He begins to grow lungs and his gills disappear. Once the lungs are developed, two front legs grow.
With lungs, he can now breathe air. He can now start eating bugs outside the water.
His webbed feet grow stronger and his tail shrinks away. He becomes a frog! He will now spend most of his time on land.
*I also get bigger as I keep eating. I don’t have a tail for swimming, though.
Did you notice a difference between the frog description and the butterfly?