It all started with The Pixie saying something innocent like “The Duck One‘s coming shopping!”. And, because I was running late enough as it was and didn’t have time to have That Battle with her, I pretended I didn’t hear her and that might have been that. But eight hours later, just as I was making dinner, The Pixie suddenly said, all innocence: “Where’s Duckwy?”.
A frantic search of the car and the usual spots where the Duck One likes to hang out (expertly wedged down the back of the couch, left to relax and unwind by itself under the trampoline, draped elegantly across the toilet floor) turned up nothing.
I pleaded with The Pixie to remember where she last saw “Duckwy”.
“Eeee-eeeee-eee” she said, squeaking like a mouse in an entirely unhelpful manner.
I then asked Mr Justice whose steel-trap memory can always be relied on, particularly in drawn-out court proceedings – which were sure to follow should the Duck One not be found.
“Uh, I remember she had it in her shopping basket at Coles, but after that…” And then he shrugged his shoulders.
My blood ran cold. And not necessarily because I had any kind of personal relationship with the Duck One, but because my husband was not going to be home at all that evening and I’d have to deal with any fall-out on my own.
I leapt into “Mission: Rescue” mode. “Right!” I hollered at the kids. “It’s almost eighteen hundred hours. We’ve got a man left behind enemy lines. We have to go to back to Coles to leave no stone unturned and no aisle unchecked until we bring that soldier home.” And then I mobilized the troops by herding them into the Love Bus, shouting: “Go! Go! Go! Go!”.
Okay, so it wasn’t quite like that. I think I probably said something more like: “If we can get to Coles and back as quickly as possible, you can eat dinner in front of The Simpsons”.
Or even: “There’s a lollipop in it for anyone who goes like the clappers.”
Whatever. The main point is that we all got to Coles in record time and ran straight to the information counter.
“I think we left my daughter’s comforter here this morning,” I said, somewhat breathlessly, the panic in my voice barely disguised. “It’s, uh, a manky piece of grey cloth with ducks on it.”
The lady behind the counter happened to be the same checkout chick we’d been served by that morning.
“Oh, yes. I picked it up and put it… uh… here,” she said, looking over at a shelf where the Duck One was obviously no longer. All I could think of was grabbing a phone and arguing my way past Prime Minister Rudd’s switchboard to call in air strikes on Coles. I felt like screaming at the entire supermarket “You’ll pay for this! YOU’LL ALL PAY!!!!” when I spotted a bin below the shelf she was looking at.
“Ah, I think it might be there,” I said somewhat sheepishly. I knew that some manager had come along, looked at Duck One and, rather than see it as the precious thing my daughter sees it as, had only seen as a potential carrier of e-coli, swine flu and/or cooties.
The lady scrummaged through the bin and lo! The Duck One was found. She put it in a plastic bag and handed it to my little girl, whose little face beamed with happiness.
“Whoever would have put such a precious thing in the bin?” the lady tutted, even though we both knew she’d probably go and scrub her hands long and hard after having handled it.
“Yayyyy!” said The Pixie. “Let’s go home and give Duckwy a bath!”.
And as we walked back to the car, I watched her squeaking happily as she swung that bag around and I thought “There’s the most precious thing. That little girl there.” And then I thought “The Duck One is grounded for the term of the grey-manky-cloth life, so help me.”