Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Long Family Tradition of Weeping at School

There are lots of things I hope my kids inherit from Groom-boy and me. Groom-boy's relaxed attitude, his sense of decency and his ability to imitate any foreign accent you can think of are some examples. I'd love it if they had my sense of humour, my stunning good looks and modesty, and my eagerness to bring out the best in people.

There are lots of things I wish my kids would not inherit, too. While Girlchild looks absolutely gorgeous with those blond locks of hers, I sure hope she has a better time of taming the unruliness of naturally curly hair than I ever did. I hope my kids don't get that annoying red-dotty skin on the backs of their arms like I have. I hope they're not as shy as I am and that they are less likely to let people stomp all over them.

Worrying falls into the latter "omigod please don't inherit this" category. (At this point anyone who has the prefix "psych" in their job title should be prepared to say, "You, my dear, clearly have some unresolved anxiety issues." But we'll get to that in a moment.)

I was the classic Kindergarten Crybaby(TM). Yes, ladies and gentleman, I was "that kid" who blubbered throughout the day for no real discernible reason and probably added more than a few grey hairs to my poor mother's head - not to mention the teacher, who had to send home a little sticker with me every day for a few weeks that had either a happy face or a sad face to let my mom know how my day went.

My mom tells me they could NOT figure out what the heck the problem was and I, of course, don't even remember anything about it, other than waiting around after school for my sticker. Apparently school started out well, but then part way through autumn I hit some sort of snag and suddenly didn't want to go. Since they hadn't invented bullies way back then, at least not until Grade 1, that wasn't the issue. Near as Mom could figure I was convinced I was missing out on some terrific fun at home with her and my baby brother. (Yeah, Mom watched the Y&R while Brother napped.)

Can you guess where this is going? Do we know a child who is in Kindergarten and who has lately shown a distinct distaste for school for no discernible reason? Why, yes! Yes we do.

Day 6 of 7 did not go well. Not only was the 24-hour preamble to the drop off a nightmarish sequence of blubbering and excuses, but the drop off itself very nearly involved a crowbar (not to whack me over the head, which would have been less painful, but to pry my child away from me, silly).

Then Boychild's teacher called at lunch. Still crying (Boychild, not her). Not eating (Boychild, and probably not her, either, since she was on the phone to me). What to do?

Well, we LIE to him, of course! Tell him there's no point in going home because Mommy's not there. She's not watching Y&R while Baby Sister naps, she's at a meeting!


Boychild thrives on routine, and this alternate-day Kindergarten thing interspersed with holidays, vacations and illnesses makes things, well, hellish - I mean difficult. And to make it worse, I know he comes by this naturally. I remember feeling anxious about changes in routine (it still happens). I remember worrying when my parents or another adult weren't around. I remember dwelling on the strangest things. I was a weird little kid. I still am.

Once when I was talking to a friend about Boychild's anxieties she said it must be helpful that I know how it feels. You'd think, but it's not. I didn't know how to deal with my own anxiety then, and I'm still not sure. [Cue the "psych" folks here.] So now I just sit around and worry about worrying, which is very helpful.

Anyhoo, next week we're getting back to a steadier week of school and I'm hoping that will help. Routine, blessed routine. Does anyone else out there have an anxious child? Do you have any tips? Does hitting yourself over the head with the crowbar help at all?

(Incidentally, my own Kindergarten crying ended famously when one day, as the neighbour girl who walked me to school waited at the kitchen door, my mother slammed down a wooden spoon on the counter and hollered something like, "That's enough! I've had it! You're going to school!" Apparently that was all it took. And it probably made the neighbour girl want to get her little butt to school, too.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What is This "Down Time"?

Warning: The following post is going to sound a bit like a distant, annoying bird whose call is "rantrantrantrantrant squawk!" Please accept my apologies in advance.

Down time. What's that? Do you ever get any?

Before I begin, let me just say I realize I am a lucky girl. Great family, great support, flexibility and skill to work from home at a job I love.

But - it's cold and snowing again today and lately I have been the last woman standing in a crowd of
unhealthy people (Groom-boy caught the barfies, too), so I'm feeling a bit cranky. Not to mention I am finding it hard to keep up with my deadlines when people aren't napping as usual or aren't going to bed and staying in bed as usual or aren't going to school because of the barfies or a wonky schedule, etc.

In fact, I feel a bit panicky sometimes about this whole work-from-home thing. While most days are extraordinarily blissful, some days just aren't.

Let me be clear: I love what I do and I don't regret this path. I am building my career and my family together. It seems to be rubbing off. My son told his Nan today that when he grows up he wants to work from home - and type. "Type what?" she asked. "Just type." Aw, he wants to be like his mom. Dare to dream, boy.

Some days, though, I just need a little whine with my cheese - especially when we still have four feet of snow (and counting) at the end of March. That's just cruel.

Something that has cropped up before but that seems to be really irksome lately is a distinct lack of down time in my life. Mommy By Day, Typist (apparently) by Night is how it feels. My mom helps two or three mornings a week, but otherwise I work when children sleep, and when they don't sleep well I get stressed and have to work later. My downtime is watching the news and staring at blogs on the computer before bed, which I know is about as relaxing and regenerative as repeatedly smashing oneself in the eye with a heavy rock.

I'm not very good at relaxing. I'm routine driven and like things to be just so. (Can we say Type A much?) So when I do have some rare spare time, I often spend it feeling as if I'm forgetting to do something. That seems, well, not cool.

I've definitely got to change something there. There's needs to be a bit more foot rubbing, novel reading, movie watching, long walks in the park kinda stuff going on - things that will recharge a battery.

I've been at the work-at-home-mom thing for six years now and it has been going swimmingly, but there are cold snowy days in March when I sometimes wonder when I'm going to crack up and run screaming from the building...because it's only a matter of time [insert maniacal laughter].

I think this lucky girl could use a few days at a spa. Or a B&B. Or in a rubber room. Whatever. Just so long as someone else is doing the cooking. And it's quiet. With no hairballs. Or diapers. A little vacation from my beautiful life.

There. That felt better.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Mighty Have Fallen

Around these here parts we've had a very quiet ongoing joke (so's we don't jinx it) about how no matter what vile illness Boychild brings home, Girlchild - She of the Iron Constitution - seems to be able to evade it. In the last couple of years, despite repeated exposure to strep throat, for example, she has walked away unscathed or with, at most, a cold.

[Warning: If you are not interested in hearing anything more about my family's bodily functions, might I suggest you
check this out instead.]

When the barfies arrived with Boychild on Monday we tried very hard to keep the germs in check so Girlchild wouldn't get it. We also kept every appendage crossed because everyone knows it's no fun when toddlers vomit. There's a bit of a control issue there in that toddlers, generally, have none. Ask Groom-boy about his multiple showers when Boychild got a tummy virus when he was around age two. Good times for everyone, especially Boychild, who was hysterical whilst Groom-boy was merely completely. grossed. out.

This morning, though, She of the Iron Constitution (SIC) succumbed to the yucky ickies. SIC. Hahaha. That's funny.

It went, surprisingly, well.

Oh, what a difference between Girlchild and her brother when he was her age. If I hadn't been in the room to witness it, I probably would have wandered in later and blamed one of the cats for a hairball mess. She didn't speak, whimper, cry or do anything beyond get a funny look on her face. No hysterics. That's my girl!

Will I be singing the same tune later today? Overnight? Tomorrow? Hard to say. Perhaps I'll spare us all the gory details.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Training Coming Soon?

So I have this, um, friend who has a kid who is about two and a half. The kid, let's call her Vernadette, isn't potty trained yet, but is showing lots of signs of knowing when she is wet or dirty and will frequently announce, "I need a bum change." Vernadette's mama knows it will soon be time to start training in earnest, and is eagerly awaiting warmer weather and fewer layers of clothing to navigate.

What's driving Vernadette's mama crazy, though, is that Vernadette is suddenly doing this weird thing where she starts a No. 2 in her diaper and then asks for a bum change before she is finished. An entire No. 2 can span four or more diapers. It could probably be best described as Incremental Pooping, and Vernadette's mom can never be sure when the end has been reached, hence the need for frequent diaper changes. Vernadette consistently refuses to try this procedure on the potty.

It's driving poor Vernadette's mama mad. It's like a regression back to babyhood when multiple BMs were part of every day. As much as she would like to strip Vernadette naked and let her truly experience the joys of the potty, it's still the throes of a cold winter in these here parts [she said, rocking back and forth in a fetal position with her arms wrapped around her knees].

Boy, I sure am glad it's Vernadette's mama's problem and not mine. [Insert nervous laughter here.] [Sob.]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five of Seven and Other Aliens

If you are familiar in any way with Star Trek, then you'll probably know what I mean when I say I think I am living with the Borg. The Borg is a collective alien race: it acquires other species and assimilates them into one giant collective unit that functions in unison to try and take over the universe. Or something like that. Its slogan is: "Resistance is futile."

At my house the Borg could be, I suppose, illnesses that work collectively to prevent my child from going to school. What really reminded me of the Borg, though, stems back to something I've already talked about - namely the fact there are only seven scheduled school days in March thanks to Boychild's alternate-day Kindergarten schedule, March Break and the Easter holiday.

Today marks Day Five of Seven. There is a Star Trek alien - a member of the Borg - called Seven of Nine. I don't know if Seven of Nine ever went to school, but I can tell you that Boychild is missing Day Five of Seven today. He missed Day One of Seven, went for Days Two and Three of Seven, almost made it through Day Four of Seven but came home early with the barfies, and today is Day Five of Seven, which is being spent on the Federation Starship Couch.

Day Six of Seven is scheduled for next Wednesday. A whole week from now. Sigh. Day Seven of Seven is on the last day of the month. Will he do it? Will he beat the odds and be able to navigate a galaxy of illnesses in order to attend two days of school between now and March 31? Stay tuned for the next episode....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another One Bites the...Porcelain God

Monday was the first day back to school after March Break and Boychild, for a change, went off with nary a complaint. That doesn't mean it was easy - oh, no. I had to force a screaming, writhing Girlchild into her pants, socks and outerwear, but Dressing Miss Daisy is a blog for another day. Oh, and navigating the icy, chunky sidewalks with the stroller was about as much fun as shoving toothpicks under my toenails.

But, I digress.

After dropping off Boychild for
Day 4 of 7 school days in March, I popped into the school office to double check some emergency contact number information. I wanted to make sure they knew that if I was not answering the phone for some bizarre reason (oh, say, like being outside shovelling 22 metres of snow or aimlessly roaming the streets seeking friendly playgroups) that the next number they should try is Groom-boy's work number. Last time they couldn't reach me they defaulted to our cell phone, which Groom-boy turns off when he's at the office.

Anyhoo, as I'm leaving I'm joking with the secretary saying, "Hahaha...not that I want you to call! Hahaha."

You see where this is going, right?

He almost made it through. That dreaded number didn't pop up on call display until an hour before dismissal time. As much as I hoped they were calling to tell me he had won second prize in a beauty contest and that I should be prepared to collect $10 when I came to pick him up, I was pretty sure they were gonna tell me he was barfing at school. Not because he had shown a single sign of being ill this morning, which he hadn't, but because:

a) I obviously jinxed Day 4 of 7 with my crazy "call me!" notions.
We've been surrounded by the barfies all weekend and I figured it was only a matter of time.
c) Getting through seven whole days of school spread across an entire month involves some sort of math probability equation that is just far too complex and random and, therefore, statistically impossible, especially in cold and flu season.

In a way I am relieved about this (because I am an alien from outer space). I really didn't see how we would manage to get through this miserable season without bringing a little vomit into our home. It's only fair, right? Now it's here and we can be finished (eventually) with the whole sordid affair and move on to the bubonic plague or crawling heebie jeebies or whatever is next. Besides, at least it's not strep throat and, so far, there is no sign of dangling limbs, gushing blood or ambulance requirements, so I may be able to avoid going to the local ER.

Now what remains to be seen is whether the rest of us have iron constitutions. I'm hoping this is the same thing I already had a few weeks ago. It would also be really, really nice to avoid having a barfy two year old. That, however, may be too much to ask.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

And Lo, the Tide of Illness Ebbed and Flowed

Tonight I am crossing my fingers and toes and legs and hair and anything else I have that will cross.

Why? Well, because it's the weekend and because we're surrounded by ickies. And I do not want to have to go to the local emergency room again anytime soon.

Today was a fun-filled day for Boychild. He got to go skating with Neighbourboy (whose brother has the barfies). Then our bestest buddies came over for our regular Friday Night Junk Food Playdate Extravaganza, whereupon Little Buddy, who has a cold, fell asleep on his mama's lap and Bigger Buddy curled up on his papa's lap, complaining of a headache and feeling kinda barfy.

No offence, everyone, but I got out the can of Lysol tonight (I hate the stuff, but desperate times call for desperate measures).

I'm probably (hopefully) overreacting, but I need to stave off any doctor visits until after the weekend and during office hours. After
my last visit to the ER, I have made a sort of pact with myself that unless a limb is dangling, blood is gushing or an ambulance is required, I am going to avoid that place like the plague (I'm not sure if I intended that as a pun or not).

Of course I probably shouldn't refer to dangling limbs, gushing blood or ambulances out loud or in print because that feels an awful lot like tempting fate, but you catch my drift. So it's crossed appendages and Lysol all round. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I'm going to try to make this story lighthearted because, well, that's what I do. So, I'll leave out the part about me crying in the parking lot - that should help quite a bit.

My son seems prone to throat infections. He has had two this year already. One recent weekend morning he developed a bit of a fever and said his throat was sore, so I peered in with a flashlight.

I know about strep throat. I had it lots in high school and I got to recognize the signs. It's no fun. When I look in Boychild's throat and it looks like raw hamburger (big, puffy, red with white splotches) I swear off red meat for a while and I take Boychild to get it checked out.

After lunch that particular afternoon I packed him, his hamburger throat and a long chapter book for us to read and we headed to our local ER.

The wait was more than three hours, which is good by some standards but not much fun for a sick six-year-old. By the end he was getting weepy. Once we got into the actual emergency room I could hear the doctor on duty talking to the nurses and other patients, and I started to worry. He sounded rude and condescending.

I know everyone has bad days. I know there was probably a lot going on behind the scenes. It was busy that day. There was a raging blizzard outside. From what I was hearing I suspect this doctor had either worked a long shift or there was some sort of doubt about whether his replacement was going to make it in.

All I know for sure is that when he came in and said we would have to do a throat swab, Boychild started to cry. He's had these before and hates them. I don't blame him. I hate having someone gag me with a long stick when my throat is sore, too. Go figure. I knew it would take some encouragement to complete the task. Before I even had much of a chance to calm him down (about 15 seconds), Dr. Personality announced he'd rather over-treat him with antibiotics than put him through this. I was a little surprised, but said okay.

THEN Dr. Personality starts to lecture me, in front of Boychild and within earshot of all comers. He said I need to get my son's behaviour under control and that this is a medical procedure and that's what he tells his own kids and that it isn't something parents should be negotiating with their children. It's almost as if he assumed whenever Boychild cries he gets his way. (Ask Boychild. That's not the case.) He showed no regard for the fact my son is six, he is sick, he wants to go home and he doesn't like that particular test. Besides, Dr. Personality was the one who said Boychild didn't have to take the test, not me.

So I killed him and now I am in jail.

Okay, I didn't. Instead I turned a lovely shade of scarlet and, after I picked up my jaw from the floor, I told Dr. Personality that Boychild has some anxiety issues and that I didn't think this was the time to be discussing it. He apologized and backed off, but continued to be an arrogant, condescending jerk. I've never been talked to like this by someone who is supposed to be a professional.

We then learned Boychild's last two swabs had come back negative for strep, so I really wanted to confirm this diagnosis. I insisted we do the test. Ultimately it took me and two nurses holding Boychild to do the deed. This, as you can imagine, was great fun for everyone, especially Boychild.

I gave Dr. Personality a big hug and a kiss as we left with our precautionary antibiotic prescription and then did a little dance of joy in the parking lot because my self-esteem was intact and I wasn't feeling insecure at all about my own parenting skills and my instincts for going to ER in the first place. I had a great time spending four hours on a weekend afternoon at the hospital during a blizzard. It is totally my idea of a fun day (see how lighthearted I am being?).

I want to state emphatically (and I'm totally serious here) that we are fortunate to have a very good hospital in our small town. This incident truly stands out as a rare occurrence in my experience, and I have had many occasions to visit this ER in my lifetime. In fact, although I don't really know him, the doctor in question seems to have a very good reputation in town, so I am convinced there were other factors at play behind the scenes.

Still. My tendency to let people walk all over me because I can be too empathetic only goes so far.

A few days later our family doctor's office called with Boychild's test result. It was strep. I feel vindicated and reassured that my mother's instinct is not askew. I've made an appointment with our doctor to discuss Boychild's ongoing throat issues, and you can bet he's going to hear about our hospital adventure. Because it was so much fun. Yep.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Little Snow

One of my pet peeves in life is that in the last five years or so I have found mainstream media overblows winter storms in these here parts. If a mere five centimetres falls, it makes the national news. I find it so irritating. This is Canada. We get winter here. It's not news.

This year, though, it is. And how.

There has been reason to talk about winter. Across most of eastern Canada we are, if not over, on the cusp of breaking some all-time snowfall records (since they started keeping track, anyway). I'd tell you how much snow we officially got, but our newspaper didn't make it today. Last night was one of the biggest blizzards I've seen in some time, made worse by the fact we already had several feet of snow on the ground.

Today was about shovelling. I've shovelled for about two hours already and we're about half done, I'd say. Groom-boy's taking a shift now. And you know what? I'm okay with all that shovelling. Today dawned beautiful and sunny; the snow is gleaming so brightly I had to wear sunglasses. The sun feels warm. The sky is blue. It is truly, truly a winter wonderland. I won't mind seeing the end of winter this year, but it really has been quite amazing. It reminds me of childhood winters - only I think we've had more snow.

No, I haven't lost my mind in a snowbank somewhere. Part of this also stems from the fact I have nowhere to be today and since it's March Break this coming week I don't have to worry about walking Boychild to school in the morning - otherwise I might be singing a different tune.

Besides, I had kind of a monstrous, soul-sucking day yesterday, not to mention the day before, so all this shovelling has been somewhat therapeutic. It's helping me to work off some stress.

And now I'll let some pictures do the talking. These are just a few I took from our windows. I'll post more outside shots later.

This is what I saw out the kitchen window first thing this morning. It's our backyard. The bird feeder normally hangs off a four-foot pole. You can just see the top of the hook. I had to dig it out.
Our van was buried.
These are the apartments across the street from us.

Looking out our window and down the street. Most people had been out shovelling by then.
Boychild on an icicle hunt in the backyard beside the neighbouring house. What an adventure!
Me commiserating with a neighbour.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Snow Day #242

Last night was no fun.

Boychild and Girlchild were up a couple of times each. The wind was driving the freezing rain so hard against the windows that I couldn't fall back to sleep for a loooong time because of the noise. In fact, I almost got up around 4:30. I think it kept the little people awake, too. (I mean the kids, not the elves.)

I am so ready for winter to be over.

If Boychild were a bus student I know I would have wept this morning to learn today is another snow day. Fortunately we live close to the school. Don't think he didn't try to talk us out of sending him today. We got a long story first thing.

"Dad, I looked out my window when I got up and I think there is too much snow for us to go to school," he said.

"No worries," I said. "I have the snowshoes and the sled ready. We'll take the dog team if need be. Or a snowmobile. I can carry you on my back if I have to. We're going." (Okay, I didn't really say this because he was talking to Groom-boy, but that would have been my response.)

"My throat is pretty gurgly and I still have a cold," he said to me later.

"You're going to school," I growled as I passed through the room on my way to get dressed. (This really happened.)

I think he knew he might as well give up at that point. It was probably something in my tone because that was the end of it.

With only six days (SIX! Aaah!) of school left in March, as I detailed
here, there is absolutely no. way. in. you. know. where. that he will be missing another day because of harsh weather and/or some half-hearted sniffles. I am ruthless.

And so he went. And there was much rejoicing.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Speaking of knitting, I had the wool pulled over my eyes today.

Today was to be the first of seven, count 'em seven, school days for Boychild in March. Yep, I said seven. Can you tell I'm thrilled?

See, Boychild is in alternate-day senior Kindergarten, which means the most he ever goes to school in any given week is three days. He has alternate Fridays off. March starts off well enough with three scheduled days in the first week, but then things get sketchy. The second week is March Break. The third week features Good Friday, which means he goes Monday and Wednesday. The following week, which is a B week and includes Easter Monday, he only goes on Wednesday. March 31 is a Monday - a school day. That's seven.


Mom, I now understand about school breaks. And I'm sorry.

Today dawned with a predicted freezing rain storm. I have to say, I will be very glad to see the last snowflake of this winter season - fun as it has been. As expected buses were cancelled - snow day. This is no biggie because the school is open and we're townies and we live close enough to the school that we can walk. Boychild, however, put on a very dramatic show of how his tummy hurt and his cold (he caught one over the weekend) was bad and his throat was gurgly "and and and pleeeeeeeease don't make me go to school."

I'm not usually one to fall for this, but I did this time and it's Hugh Laurie's fault. Yes. Groom-boy is on holidays this week and last night he started watching an old episode of House at midnight and I got hooked and stayed up until 1 a.m. I love House and I hardly ever get to watch it. That late night in itself isn't overly bad except I had stayed up until a little past 1 a.m. the night before, too, and it's catching up. I am an idiot.

Anyway...Boychild, who is a rabid (and sometimes unwelcome) morning person, comes at me with this plaintive cry as soon as Girlchild and I join him and Groom-boy downstairs. I am a not a morning person. I am a zombie. I had just gotten off the phone with BFF (Cindy, the knitter), who called to tell me a) her youngest, who is in Boychild's class, would not be going to school today because he was having dry heaves (yay) and b) eldest child would be going and she could pick up Boychild on the way.

So, in the back of my weary weary mind I'm connecting dry heaves with Boychild's tummy complaints (even though he says he has a sore tummy almost every morning and it usually subsides as soon as he fills it). I'm also thinking, in my weakened state, that a snow day is a good day to miss if necessary because they don't tend to do as much at school.

Meanwhile, the slightly - only slightly - more alert side of my brain is yelling and sending up flares. "Don't believe the hype! He just doesn't want to go to school! He'll feel better after breakfast and his snot will clear up! We're always more congested first thing!" Yeah yeah yeah. Something about a "dangerous precedent," too.

Sigh. I caved. An hour later he and Girlchild were dancing to the Bee Gees on the radio and jumping up and down on the old crib mattress. My fatigue betrayed my common sense on this one. I am such a sucker. A precedent-setting sucker.

Later Boychild will get a long story about crying wolf. Meanwhile, I am mourning the loss of a perfectly good school day. Sniff.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Bird With New Feathers

Ducky is all better.

Regular visitors might recall my recent dilemma regarding Boychild's knit duck - his lovey - that was in dire need of some major repairs. We're talking family heirloom, here, and I can't knit.

I write a weekly column for the local newspaper and I wrote about my Ducky dilemma. We live in a small town. I fielded a few calls offering help, but the most intriguing one came from a woman I know who volunteers at a local long-term-care home where there is a knitting club every Saturday. You can read the background here. Boychild, Ducky and I visited one Saturday in early February and a duck-repair action plan was devised, which you can read about here.

People are busy and stuff happens, or doesn't, and our action plan hadn't mobilized. In the meantime, I kept casting worried glances at poor bedraggled Ducky. Things were getting serious. Three or four rather ominous weak spots on his side looked as if they could give out at any moment, which would have created an enormous hole. I've made some minor repairs before, but we were truly at the point where there wouldn't be any place for me to put my stitches.

I didn't want to pester the task force of seniors and I felt funny calling the other two ladies who had telephoned because several weeks had passed since the distress call was issued, so I turned to my best friend, let's call her Cindy, and begged for help. She knits.

I proposed my original plan - you knit a patch and I will stitch it on. So, on Friday as our gang, complete with Ducky, and her gang congregated for our weekly junk-food and play-date night, she got out her measuring tape and needles, grabbed my ball of yarn and set about knitting the weirdest-shaped thing you ever did see. A narrow rectangle linked a lopsided hexagonal shape to a diamond. Essentially, the hexagon stretches over Ducky's really worn side, the rectangle acts as a saddle over his back, and the diamond spreads over the better side. Everything comes together at Ducky's chest, so it looks as if he's wearing a funky jacket.

She knit this contraption in one sitting over a couple of hours. The next morning I pinned it on Ducky, gained Boychild's approval (phew!), added a bunch of stuffing and began stitching.

It worked perfectly. As I said to Cindy, it wouldn't win a prize at the fair (unless there was a "unique emergency patch" category), but it's wonderful. It covers the bad spots. Ducky's neck has been reinforced with some stuffing and we celebrated by giving him a bath. He's soft, cosy, smells great and Boychild is happy and that's just grand. Thank you, Cindy! I'll post a picture when I get a chance.

It's good to know people who knit. Definitely. And I figure more Ducky parts could wear out, and now we know this will work. Ducky may end up with a whole new set of feathers yet!