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  • Writer's pictureRebel Jones

Ducks Don't Respect Boundaries

I'm quite used to tripping over child related paraphernalia. Domino rallies here. Sewing scraps there.

And let's not get into the shameful amount of half-empty mugs, beakers and glasses they leave for me to find. I neither realised quite how many cups we owned, nor how many they needed to fulfil this daily act of sadism.

The near-teenage child litters bookcases, window sills, and even her desk with an often sizeable collection of glass wear.

Ducks don't respect adult time

And my son, almost 8, has recently claimed his 'spot' on the living floor.

Since buying the new sofas, it's become the designated area for leaving his juice cup. And nothing, not even the laws of gravity, can deter him from this sacred ritual.

For anyone familiar with autism, you'll know that breaking this habit is like trying to convince a cat to take a bath - nearly impossible... Which conveniently leads me to the point of this post (yes, there is one!)

2 night ago, having been up for what felt like 47 and a half hours, I peeled myself off the sleep-inducing cuddle couch, made a creamy coffee and headed to the bathroom. The house was quiet; the children were sleeping like little angels. And even cat, having played Zoomies for over an hour, was settled. As I walked up the stairs, cup in one hand, child's tablet, teddy, lost sock and Rubik's cube in the other, I considered the basket full of washing.

I considered it. And that was enough.

It was at this point, it was gone 11pm. And all I wanted was a hot bath and my bed. As someone who doesn't drink or smoke, it's my wind down. My cool off. My...

Ducks don't respect adult time

Mother-ducker! I'd forgotten about my son's epic waterslide, suckered to the bathroom tiles.

This roller coaster of plastic flues, complete with spirals and cannon style finish, was the highlight of said child's day. Together, we'd built this brightly coloured monstrosity. And he had named it 'The best bath-time rally ever!'

As the duck, dressed as an Easter Chicken, looked up at me from the corner of the bath, I knew I couldn't put the track away.

I knew that, no matter how much I wanted my tranquil setting, the red and purple slides had to stay. And that the ducks, in their diverse costumes, would see to it in some YMCA style picket line.

Ducks don't respect boundaries. I felt their printed eyes stare right into my soul. And their disgruntled quacks, echo through my thoughts.

Sure, it was late. And I was tired beyond comprehension. But these ducks, these 6 rubber ducks, motioned the conquering of my only quiet space.

The fact of the matter is, nothing is sacred in parenting. Small people do not only come out of your personal space (a fact that I frequently share with my almost teen), but they then go on to decorate every aspect, nook, and cranny of your life with glitter, cheese sandwiches, and apparently, ducks.

I'm pretty sure that, under different circumstances, the military would class this as an invasion. They would see past the 'cute puppy dog eyes' (a manoeuvre my children periodically use when trouble comes knocking), and insist that all personnel drop their weapons.

But, rather than being faced with the enemy, I have ducks. And I can't remove these rubber wearing intruders. Their head honcho (aka my son) would be saddened. And the inevitable Mum guilt felt is a metaphorical smack around the head that I do not wish to feel.

I'm crap at parenting. I'm the soft touch, the sucker, the high-five kind of mama. I will dish out cuddles like pills at a party. And meticulously explain why calling someone annoying or dumb isn't a kind thing to do.

Ducks don't respect adult time

In this house, we knock on bedroom doors, and we ask before taking. We share our favourite moments, but know that we don't have to share our favourite toys. We respect boundaries. And we encourage kindness if they're accidently crossed.

Because none of us are perfect. We're all going to screw it up.

Take me for example - I am invariably late for home ed meets, airport pick ups and meal times, no matter how hard I try. I palm off Math lessons to an online teacher (because I'm terrible at it!) And I baby my son by putting his socks on, rather than demand independence at nearly 8 years old.

I know, I know - I should be holding his tablet hostage until he masters this life long skill. But when the coffee ain't flowing, neither is my will for showing (for the 728th time!)

I'm OK with my screw ups, my flaws and bad decision making. I own those bad boys, like I own a cassette tape with The Very Best Of Elton John on it. And I'm OK with the apparent need for my children to unleash Jumanji throughout my house. A warning about this child-led chaos prior to birth might have been nice, but hey, let's not get hung up on those minor details.

Instead, let me take you back to my duck dilemma....

I turned on the taps and the bath began to fill. Easter Chicken Duck peered over at me, as I poured the bubble bath. And an uncomfortable silence fell between us. This was clearly duck territory. They'd claimed my porcelain tub as their own and it was only a matter of time before... The ducks went in the basket. All 6 of them. And tranquillity was (all be it temporarily) restored.

Wherever your happy place may be, make time to visit. And never feel guilty for doing so. I know this is often easier said than done - Mum guilt is a real thing in this house.

But you're allowed some 'you' time. Remember that.


"Spend time for yourself, walk in solitude, refresh your mind and body so that you can spend time for others and walk with them! Spend time for yourself!"

Mehmet Murat Ildan

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