“Peeking” Duck

by Marilynn Halas on January 30th, 2012
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            Happy Chinese New Year!  In our house, we have celebrated the Year of the Dragon like never before.  Most of my kids are studying Mandarin at school and so there was great excitement at school and at home.  School wide celebrations included dancing dragons and songs and even better, our favorite Chinese food for dinner.  We had eggrolls and lo mien and all kinds of chicken, but the duck came later and it kind of scared all of us.  After a delicious meal and all the oranges we could eat for dessert it was time for bed.  Everyone settled in and I actually thought I would get some work done.  How naïve.

About 11:30 I heard it for the first time and it was shocking to say the least.  There was an ominously quacking sound coming from upstairs.  I ran to check on my kids and there was my little guy sitting up in bed, quacking like a duck and barking like a seal.  Normally we take pride in our repertoire of animal noises from neighing horses to mooing cows, but this was different.  There was no twinkle in his eyes nor smile on his face, only that terrible sound every time he coughed.

I’ve seen a lot and heard a lot as a mom, but this was my first experience with croup.  We spent most of the rest of the night enjoying the humidifier and sipping water, but the scary sound went on.  At one point, I could see abject fear in his eyes as he quacked again and I realized that a distraction was in order.   It was the middle of the night and I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s not typically the time I feel most creative.  Still, you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention, so I went for it.

Right in the middle of a new cough I opened my eyes wide and pointed to my little one’s mouth.  “I don’t believe it!”  I stammered.  “Now I know why you sound like a duck.  You must have swallowed a duck!  I even think I see him peeking out when you cough!”  In a flash he was out of bed and looking in the mirror.  Knowing that I love to joke around, the twinkle in his eyes came back when he assured me that he could see it too.  Not one to be outdone I decided to up the antie, after all, it’s not like we were getting any sleep anyway.  I reached into his down pillow and extracted a small feather.

“Look at this!  You even coughed up a feather!”   Now he knew I was kidding for sure and he delighted in telling me all about it.  The more he talked, the more the fear ran away from his eyes and within about fifteen minutes, he was sound asleep.  I, on the other hand, not so much.

As I lay there listening to him breathe, I thought again about the miracle of storytelling.  Stories can be a distraction, a reward and a means of self-expression all at the same time.  They teach us where we have been and inspire where we might go, but even better, they join us in the current moment to lift us up.  Telling a story together builds your family team and turns a bad night into a great memory.  As far as I can tell, stories are the best way to keep your face to the sun and make sure the shadows fall behind.



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