A young male duck seemed to have a charmed life. He had grown up active and strong, had done well learning to hunt and make quacking noises in duck school and was popular with young and old ducks alike. He was proud of his feathers, kept them clean and was rather pleased when a young female duck agreed to be his wife.
The party was excellent with lots of salad and an insect cake and it wasn’t long before the ducks had three ducklings – two girls and a boy. The girls were very fast swimmers and quick to catch their own food but the boy duckling never grew strong and had to have help hatching out of his egg. He needed to be fed and helped to swim for his whole life. His parents and all the other ducks loved him anyway and helped him live as long as possible. One day the boy duckling sank to the bottom of the swamp and his parents and all the ducks mourned his passing.
Raising a disabled duck had been hard on the two parents and they had split up, with the two ducklings spending most of the time with mother duck and a smaller amount of time with father duck.
Father duck met a slightly younger duck with even prettier feathers at a crustacean appreciation class and after a fine display of bobbing and wing-flapping, they found a nice patch of swamp to live in together. Meanwhile, the mother duck married an older duck with a couple of teenage ducklings of his own.
All the ducks got along fairly well with ducklings spending time with the different couples. But suddenly the mother duck decided to move to a further part of the swamp that was rumoured to have an abundance of molluscs. This meant that father duck saw his ducklings less. He was sad but hoped that his ducklings would have adventures and give him dehydrated molluscs for his hatchday. He was happy with his pretty duck. They adopted two tadpole pets and looked forward to family time.
The mother duck soon after decided that she didn’t like her new husband. He was too old and fat and slow and she didn’t even like molluscs much. She left him and his bratty teenage ducklings and moved to a different part of the swamp with her best friend. Her best friend pretended to be the father and it was fun for everyone for a while. However, the real father duck was seeing his ducklings less and less. He was also noticing that his ducklings were starting to behave a bit differently, less respectful towards him.
The father duck decided to talk with the mother duck about seeing his ducklings more. Instead of talking, the mother duck quacked hysterically for hours that the ducklings didn’t like the healthy salad, crustaceans and insects that the father duck gave them and preferred takeaway wrappers and bread thrown from humans and that therefore the father duck was a bad father. She also quacked ridiculously that he was too stern and that the ducklings were afraid to be in his home. The mother duck tried to give other reasons but they were all pathetic. However, she believed them and said the father duck wasn’t to see his ducklings any more.
The father duck tried to work it out with the mother duck but she wouldn’t listen. She organised for the father duck to see his ducklings once a month for a few hours only as long as there were takeaway wrappers because she believed that made the ducklings safe.
The father duck started talking to the duck family council in order to arrange to see his ducklings again. All the duck elders agreed that there were no reasons for him not to see his ducklings and that he was in fact an outstanding duck and father. However, councils take time and father duck’s case is ongoing.
Father duck is very sad. It has been very hard on him and his pretty duck. They miss his ducklings and it is hard on the relationship. For a while they lost their appetites and stopped preening their feathers but now they go to duck night classes on preening or dugustation to keep their romance alive (and to give them something else to talk about). One tadpole disappeared and so they look after only one these days.
The ducklings are rather confused but are with mother duck and listen to her nonsense and tend to believe it. When father duck gets a duck order permitting his returned visits, he will be able to talk to them about it and help the ducklings understand what really makes them safe.
So please, if you have ducklings, give them a cuddle for me. Help them be clever, strong and happy. Feed them healthy foods and keep them from foxes and quolls. Teach your ducklings about real safety. And above all, love them.