A rubber duck you ask? At swimming they have a few toys like that here and there. For years I have been trying to get Daniel away from the rubber ducks. It isn't that he sings "Rubber Ducky" ala Ernie from Sesame Street when it's in his hand, or that it is a well, a rubber duck and he's 12. (OK that MIGHT be a small portion of it) it's that he constantly licks the water off of it. It sends chills down my spine to watch him lick that darn duck. I have long ago said, any germ that is out there, Daniel must have built up an immunity to by now. I received more calls in elementary school about Daniel licking this, Daniel drank the water out of the bird feeder, Daniel's eating dirt. What am I supposed to do about it, really? Honestly, after all of these years, the approach of IGNORING it seems to me to be the best self preservation that I have. Because I really don't think that telling him for the 1,359,822 time will help. Will it? Will that one more time make him say. "Oh, I can't lick that, why didn't you say so?" When I'd get the calls, mostly from one very well intentioned, slightly obsessive teacher, I'd uh huh and oh no and I'll talk to him through the whole conversation, only to ignore it. Maybe I'd talk to him and he'd say "I can't do that, it's gross, I won't do it ever again" until the next time. . .
So when my darling Nikki presented him with the duck, part of me said da#!. And the other part, said, that is the sweetest thing ever! She saw a duck that said Michigan State with a hat and a backpack and had to buy it for Daniel. I wish I could pack her up into my backpack and make her live with us FOREVER. Daniel didn't know what to make of it at first and he looked at me and said, "can I take this home?!"
"Yes you can Daniel." He was thrilled.
The OTHER part of my brain was saying, "he will take this out to the pool and THIS will be a problem". Because there was no way in HELL he would let someone else touch that duck. He couldn't very well carry it around for an hour in the pool. He was going to put it down and it was going to get taken and I was proud of myself, because of instead of trying to control the situation I thought, "well, let's see what happens, if nothing else, Nikki, my wonderful Kinesiology student will learn something today." That being, wait until AFTER the lesson and give it to him so no one else lays their hands on HIS duck!
When he had taken MUCH longer than normal to come out of the locker room and I'm in the balcony and Nikki is waiting too on the pool deck for him. I knew the trouble had already started. He finally appeared and his face was all pink and blotchy which means he was already upset. The coloring of his face is a dead giveaway on him. My best guess is he set it down in the locker room to change and immediately someone picked it up to look at it. So far, I'm right on track.
Throughout the whole swim lesson he'd put it down on the side of the pool they'd swim a few laps, come back and not be able to find it. To his credit, he handled it fairly well. He would get stressed but there was no screaming. But Nikki was doing a lot of scrambling around trying to find that duck! It happened over and over. Then they'd find it and he'd be happy. By the end Gail, who runs the program found a ton of ducks and dumped them all in the pool, I assume as a diversion from THE duck so maybe everyone would stop grabbing Daniel's duck.
By the end of the lesson, the duck was in hand, to go home to the dresser, and afterward Nikki met me in the lobby and said, "maybe I should have waited until after?" Lesson learned. I love her. Daniel's happy, Nikki learned something, and I wasn't a control freak and let all the things happen. Everyone was richer for the experience! All in all, it was a great day!