Ducks Versus Puddles (Round 2)

James Proclaims (4)


Last week we explored the efficacy of ducks (or more accurately geese, which aren’t ducks) at hindering my morning run, in comparison to puddles. That round went to puddles. Let’s see if ducks (and associated waterfowl) can level things up this week.


Prior to current world events, I would often take my daughter to one of the many playparks that we’re lucky to have within walking distance of our home. She’s quite an early riser, so we were often able to get to the park before other people and would frequently have use of the facilities for a good hour before anyone else arrived.

Which was great for me, because the one thing that has not been a hardship during the pandemic is staying away from other people. Little Proclaims is generally more sociable than her father but lacks any kind of boundaries or social etiquette (which I understand is fairly normal for a toddler) so she did enjoy having the run of the park without me constantly having to restrain her. She loved the swings, the slide and the roundabout, but her favourite activity, if it had been raining, which it does quite a bit in the UK, was to jump in puddles.

Indeed she loves jumping in puddles so much that, when we were adopting a pretty strict ‘stay at home’ regime during lockdown, she would often fill her little plastic watering can, from the sand and water table my parents bought her for her birthday, and create little puddles in our garden to jump in. Even better was when she could convince me to get out of the camping chair, I’d mistakenly thought I could relax in while supervising her, to get the big watering can and make some really big puddles for her.

March and April involved me being at home a lot more as I initially tried in vain to work from home for two weeks and then we had the Easter holidays, which were still observed notionally by schools, although ironically less so than in years when schools were open as normal. As a result, Little Proclaims and I spent a lot of time in the garden. And even though I returned to working in school at the end of April, I was only able to work on-site for the duration of the ‘school day’ which in reality represents a fraction of the time I spent in my office pre-pandemic so the garden fun was largely able to continue most afternoons. Things have slowly crept back to, if not quite normal, then ‘still quite busy’ at work and the hours I can access the site have increased as more of my colleagues and more students have also returned to the school.

But it has still felt important to continue to make time in my day to have fun with my daughter. Pre-lockdown I was in danger of becoming ‘the boring parent’, certainly on weekdays. I probably remain the ‘more boring parent’ because Mrs Proclaims applies the same level of intensity towards parenting as she does to pretty much everything, which means that Little Proclaims is phenomenally entertained by her mother, to the point that both are often exhausted by the time I get home. Nonetheless, I would still like to think that my daughter enjoys my company as much as I enjoy hers. Then again, if she enjoys spending time with me only half as much as I enjoy spending it with her then she’s still having a great time.

As lockdown has gradually eased (rightly or wrongly), though we’ve still been inclined to remain Chez Proclaims for the most part, the little one and I have ventured out for a walk most afternoons. We can’t yet access the play parks because, understandably while it is absolutely fine to gather in large numbers and drink alcohol in our local parks, it is clearly not safe to play on the swings, so Little Proclaims and I have had to make do with going to see the ducks. Some days, if we have any leftover bread, we even feed the ducks.

Obviously, as with ‘Round 1’ of Ducks versus Puddles, when I say ducks, I really mean the various associated waterfowl that frequent the bit of the Thames near where we live. But that does include ducks. And Little Proclaims does think of them all as ducks. Or sometimes canards, because as I’ve mentioned before, my daughter is quite good, for an almost-two-year-old, at speaking French.

But she doesn’t call them waterfowl. And never geese, despite the fact that the geese outnumber the other birds by a considerable amount. It’s almost as if a parental figure has taught her to call them ducks…

Anyway, she likes these little outings a lot. I often take her out when she wakes up from her afternoon nap. My child, much like her father, is not the loveliest of people when roused from slumber. She can be a little cranky post-nap and while I theoretically sympathise, because ‘morning me’ is best avoided by all, I’m never been sure how to help her snap out of her mood. But one mention of ducks and she’s a different child, straining at the leash to get out. It’ a literal leash too, because Little Proclaims is so mobile that I’ve long since given up on taking the pushchair, so she mostly gets where we’re going under her own steam. But because she has all the road safety awareness of a toddler, I have to employ the use of reigns. These come in the form of an owl-themed rucksack with a helpful cord for me to hold onto. She likes wearing the rucksack, so she doesn’t object to this limitation, and when we eventually get to a nice open field I let her run free, which she loves.

The ducks and associated waterfowl are always a source of fascination for her, and, unlike her pater, who would happily avoid the hissing velociraptor-like geese, she’s quite content to get close, unaware that there might be any danger, which apparently there isn’t, because the geese, seemingly realising that their bluff has been called, retreat more quickly at the sight of a small child in the afternoon than they do at the sight of a large man running slowly in their direction in the morning.

A couple of weeks ago I would have been quite confident in telling you that my daughter’s favourite activity at the moment is going to see (and sometimes feed) the ducks.

But then it rained for a few days and all of a sudden there were puddles galore on our outings, including a veritable ‘festival’ of puddles in a local, currently not well-used, car park that we happened upon. And I’ve never seen her happier than running and splashing in those puddles.

She still likes the ducks, but I’m pretty sure that she prefers the puddles.

There have been two key indicators:

  1. She happily walked through a pack of velociraptors – sorry flock of geese – the other day, completely oblivious to them as she made her way to, what wasn’t even that impressive, a puddle.
  2. When I coax her away from the ducks in order to return home, she sometimes objects a little. When I try and take her away from the puddles, I’m met with full toddler meltdown, the kind which draws judgmental stares from the general public, and I have to literally carry her kicking and screaming all the way home.

So, at the end of round two, the ‘entertaining my daughter during lockdown’ round, puddles are very clearly the winners.

Which means that in the clash of the titans that was ‘Ducks versus Puddles’, Puddles have actually won the series comfortabley 2-0.

And as I can’t think of any more rounds with which to assess them, then I can categorically state that puddles are better (or much much worse depending on your perspective) than ducks.

I imagine we’ve all learned something today.


  26 comments for “Ducks Versus Puddles (Round 2)

  1. June 30, 2020 at 9:29 am

    Has she discovered going limp yet? trusting that you have proper hold of the reins? My daughter used to do that “for fun” while holding both our hands. She did that once and jarred her elbow out of place. In Bordeaux. French ER. F’in fun indeed! And, I had to pay!

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 30, 2020 at 9:41 am

      Not had that pleasure yet but it seems like something she would do…


      • June 30, 2020 at 9:53 am

        The other thing I thought about was when she chased a duck *into* the river! Fortunately I did have hold but we both got soaked. It was only about 10ft wide and shallow, but fast-flowing. Soon as she stepped in, it took her legs away. That was in one of the parks in Salisbury. Because I had hold of her reins, I didn’t think anything could happen. Famous last words.

        Liked by 1 person

      • June 30, 2020 at 9:57 am

        Yes, I can definitely see how that could happen. I’m always relieved when we get back home.
        Although she finds plenty of dangers there too…

        Liked by 1 person

      • June 30, 2020 at 10:15 am

        Some of this is scadenfreude, you understand. I am through all this, you ghave it to come 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      • June 30, 2020 at 10:43 am

        I’d be the same if it was the other way around…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. June 30, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Lovely post, brings back so many memories for me of when my two daughters were little (they’re 34 and 28 now). My 2 year old granddaughter’s favourite pastime is playing chase – I’m happy just to watch her with her mum and dad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 30, 2020 at 9:43 am

      Mine seems to have discovered the joys of chase recently and unfortunately with no other children around (or accessible thanks to lockdown) it’s been me doing the running around. And for an almost 2 year old she is fast. I’m very tired…

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 30, 2020 at 9:56 am

        I can imagine! My granddaughter turned 2 three weeks ago, and it exhausts me just watching her!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. June 30, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    It’s a shame adults lose the joy of simple pleasures. I haven’t splashed in a puddle for years…

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 30, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      I’m definitely considering buying some wellies so I can join in

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Scribblans
    June 30, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    The secret to calm parent? Take a roll of gaffer tape with you everywhere. Marvellous stuff. Cuffs, manacles or gags, whenever you need them on one handy, easy to carry roll.
    Still sticks when wet too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 30, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      A couple of years ago I’d have assumed that you were joking. Now I recognise it for the sound advice it is


  5. June 30, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    Well, I’ve learned something about you today certainly. Actually I’ve known it for a while now. You, sir, are a good dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. June 30, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Get the wellies. Splash in the puddles. Get wet, get cold, go home – everybody happy. Enjoy being dad – it doesn’t get better than that!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. June 30, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    I think you need to buy a large bucket so you can carry an instant puddle around for Miss Proclaims!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. June 30, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    Truth be told, I was rooting for the puddles all along.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. July 1, 2020 at 12:01 am

    My boys used to adore puddles too,but then we moved to Arizona. What are puddles?

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 1, 2020 at 8:29 am

      I don’t think my daughter would like Arizona…


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