The earliest citation of “before you meet the handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of toads” can be found in a 1975 publication of “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine. Since that time, numerous iterations in word and graphic format have reinforced this adage among teens and young adults. Although originally gender specific by its wordage, the premise is currently prescriptive for all romantics in search of a compatible soul mate and long term relationship.
Indeed, as each of my adolescent daughters experienced their first heartbreak, solace was offered by use of this phrase; there may have even been a poster on the wall depicting a toad in a prince’s crown as a reminder. Thereafter, the consolation was mostly taken by them in the spirit that it was given by me.
Sometimes however, especially as hearts became more heavily invested and breakups more emotionally felt, toads were tossed back into the swamp with angry vehemence. I must admit, at those times, my empathy was more closely aligned with the bruised toad than with my dejected offspring. So, I added to the adage with an addendum that said, “Remember to put the toad back gently into the swamp. He will be somebody else’s prince someday.”
From that counsel arose examples, not only from my daughters, but from their friends. And many times I was fortunate to share in the banter.
“Mr. Adams, I put my toad back into the swamp yesterday.”
“Did you put him back gently?”
And most times, that one word yes was an affirmation of a rightful decision made. And where a moment of sadness was softened with a smile and acknowledged with the assurance that their next toad was close by, waiting to be found.