Yesterday was a birthday party for my nephew. The little butterbean is a year old! Yay!
I needed presents for him. And this is a kid who already has every toy imaginable. So I headed for books, which I love.
There I was at the book store, trying to find books that a one-year old might enjoy. I saw one called "Five Little Ducks." I am incredibly tactile, and could not resist the super soft little fluffy ducks sticking out of the cover. Soft yellow ducklings to pet! What could be more compelling for a one-year old? Or me? Pet, pet.
So I opened the book and started flipping through thick, glossly, cardboard pages. Pages designed to withstand a good deal of chewing. There are holes in the initial pages for all five ducks to poke through. Then the holes are reduced page by page, thus hiding the ducks one by one.
Basically, and if you don't know the story, let me just warn you there is a spoiler ahead, the mother duck takes her five babies out for a walk. The first time, only four come back. The second, only three. Then you get down to two, and one...and none!
The mother duck, as you may imagine, is very sad. At this point, you are out of holes for the fuzzy ducks to poke through.
On a side bar: I'd like to work out some elaborate system of this sort in my office for basically eliminating the dragon ladies from sight, and thus from my existence. I know of at least one engineer who reads my blog, so if you have any suggestions, I'd be delighted.
And I was thinking, "Holy shit! I can't buy this book for my nephew! All the little duckies are dead! One by one they probably got eaten by frogs! (Do frogs eat ducks?) Or drowned by the fat orange koi, just like my brother and I actually saw happen in the pond at the hotel when we were kids on that one family trip to Hawaii! (We cried, as you may imagine.) Or maybe they ate rat poison! Or got stepped on by a cow! Or squished by a tractor!"
There are lots of ways a fragile little baby duck can perish, you know. At least in my very urban imagination.
I had the book in hand, and was thinking how shockingly unkind it was to kill off all the fuzzy yellow ducklings. What a horrible trick to play on a kid, to start a book so fluffy and happy and then: Bam! All gone!
I was about to put it down when I realized there were a couple more pages. They were just regular illustrated pages, with no holes for the fuzzy ducks to poke through. I flipped the pages.
Relief! The next time the mom goes out, ALL the little ducks come back!
And I was thinking, "Thank goodness! You're back and I can buy the book!"
And then I thought, "Stupid ducks. It's just a fucking pond. It's not like your mom took you to Disneyland, where there are all these rides for distraction! Or kidnappers waiting to snatch you from under your parents' nose."
But I bought it, and my nephew loved the fluffy yellow ducks even more than I did.