I drove over in the morning, and the plan was to meet my girls for lunch. The two of them were coming from Chicago. I surprised them by inviting my "other daughter" Jane. (On my way out the door, she and I were on Facebook, and I had asked, "Is there any chance. . ?) So Jane came along, with four-year-old handsome, high-fiving Reidie in tow, and we met before the Sarahs arrived.
Over lunch, Jane mentioned the blog I'd written where I told the story of getting kicked by a horse at the end of second grade. "You seem to have trouble with that," she laughed.
I do. Years ago, Jane and I were walking on the River in Davenport one late spring afternoon, and came upon a Mama Duck and her babies. I have no idea what you call that. If they'd been geese, it would be a gaggle.
One of the babies was on its back on the pavement, with its legs in the air, wriggling helplessly, and trying unsuccessfully to get itself turned over. The Mama Duck was watching the baby, and the other babies were waiting for the Mama.
I went over to help out. I couldn't stop my self. And Jane was right behind me.
Before I could get near him, The Mama Duck dove between me and the baby, and then came after me, mid-air, thumping me with her feet. Luckily, by this time I had turned around (something I remembered from second grade, when the horse kicked me), and was trying to move out of her range. No such thing. She just kept coming. All I could do, was, well, DUCK. And try to move away from her. Every time I looked back, there she was, hovering mid air and coming after me with her two huge webbed feet.
A bicyclist stopped to watch, leaning back on his seat. Now I was drawing a crowd.
And every time I turned around to look, Mama Duck was still there. Still coming after me. Unfortunately, it was the one and only time I'd ever worn a haltar top on one of our walks, so I was getting red Mama Duck Marks all over my back and shoulders.
All I could do was continue to look back, duck, and move away. All Jane could manage to do was laugh. All the gawking bicyclist could do was gawk.
When Mama Duck finally retreated, the well-rested bicyclist said, "I've never seen anything like that!" (Well. Yeah.) And every time I've told this story (twice? it's so humiliating) I've said, "You would have to see Jane tell this." Jane tells the story with hand motions. She looks just like a protective Mama Duck when she tells it. People laugh. I even laugh.
So after another good laugh at my expense, we finished our lunch, and the Sarahs and I said goodbye to Jane, and headed over to our motel. (I have to add that my son-in-law, Carl, sent along a present for me. My favorite cookies, a book, and a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Don't tell the others, but he's my favorite.) We made plans with Daniel and Lilia for later, changed and drove over to Christ the King for the women's event, and when we arrived, the girls helped me to get set up.
And here's what I realized on my drive back to Des Moines. I am just like that Mama Duck. I'm fierce about my Grownup Kids, especially the one who's in trouble. And I will not leave him there, struggling to turn back over on his own. I will do what I can to help him, which means that I will watch and nudge until he figures it out. And all the while, I will remind him that I'm there. He's not the first upside down duckling, and he won't be the last. And if my other ducklings have to wait with me, they just do.