People often ask me “Just what, exactly, *is* that manky scrap of grey cloth that your daughter drags around with her all the time?”. And, if they dare get up close to said cloth, their next question is usually “And why does it smell so strange?”
Why, it’s “The Duck One”, of course!
The Duck One had humble beginnings as a breastfeeding-friendly nightie (decorated with, you guessed it, ducks) given to me before Mr Justice was born. It saw me through many an overnight breastfeeding endurance event with my first two babies and by the time the third baby arrived, I welcomed it as a comfortable old friend.
In the meantime, Tiddles McGee’s arrival stripped The Pixie of the title of “House Baby”. But unlike Mr Justice, she didn’t resort to using her new sibling as a drum. She found other, strange strange ways of expressing her discontent.
Firstly she embarked on her “Holly Hobby” phase, where she mostly hid under a large purple straw hat, adorned with a large fake rose. People couldn’t see what she was thinking or hear what she was saying – and worse still, she couldn’t see where she was going. That poor hat endured one wall-collision too many and was soon taken off to Daddy’s shed “to be fixed” (one day I’ll write a post about that magical place where broken toys often go but ne’er return).
It was then she turned her attentions to The Duck One. Whenever I was doing the dishes in my nightie (which was all the time in those days – hey, don’t judge me: I had a newborn!), I’d look down to find The Pixie stroking a corner of the nightie and sucking her thumb, with a far far away look in her eye. It got to the point that she couldn’t pass me in a corridor without stopping, stroking and sucking her thumb.
Then came the night The Duck One was invited to have a sleep over with The Pixie. Pretty soon, The Duck One – now known simply as “Duck One” – was a regular fixture in her bed, along with those random pieces of lego and that half-eaten apple.
Then Duck One began to go accompany The Pixie everywhere – to the shops, the kindergarten, the zoo, family weddings… The Pixie became Duck One’s full-time custodian – or perhaps it was the other way around. And I was finally forced to choose between doing the dishes in the nude or actually getting dressed, which probably was a good thing as my “newborn” was now crawling and eating breadsticks.
And then things all went a bit David Lynch. I’d find The Pixie *inside* Duck One, still sucking her thumb, as if returning to the amniotic sac from whence she’d sprung. And from time to time, I would find The Pixie and Mr Justice bouncing on the trampoline *both* inside Duck One. It was all strangely disquieting, not least of all for Duck One, who was quickly stretched from a size 12 to a supersize 24.
Almost two years on, Duck One still figures largely on The Pixie’s social horizon. There are now strict rules about Duck One staying in the pram or “looking after the car” on excursions, mostly because I got sick of Duck One being thrown down on the floor of public toilets when The Pixie needed to go. (Which goes some way in explaining why the strange smell). And of course, every night Duck One is there in The Pixie’s bed, the keeper of her secrets and the catcher of her dreams.
These days Duck One even has a nickname – as if dropping the “The” hadn’t been informal or intimate enough. The Pixie lovingly refers to her (and she *is* a she) as “Duckwy”. Yes, indeedy. There are many humans on this earth who yearn to be loved half as much as this scrappy piece of cloth – and sometimes, looking at The Pixie with her most treasured possession in the world, I am one of them.