Wash the duck up

OK. We’re still not supposed to have baths in Cape Town and many people have seen that as a bad thing, but given this new research from Swiss and American researchers, maybe it’s not so unwelcome after all.

How could we ever have expected that something which is dark, constantly moist and regularly warmed to somewhere around body temperature could be a place that bacteria and other nasty bugs might like to live?

It’s almost like that old research from Swiss and American researchers from a few years ago which suggested that His Holiness the Supreme Pontiff, Bishop of Rome and apostolic successor to Saint Peter… might be Catholic.

Who knew?

They also did something about bears… I think that one might have been disproved though.

Swiss and American researchers counted the microbes swimming inside the toys and say the murky liquid released when ducks were squeezed contained “potentially pathogenic bacteria” in four out of the five toys studied.

The bacteria found included Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that is “often implicated in hospital-acquired infections.”

Well, at least it’s not penguicidal avian flu.
Still, not great, but really not very surprising either. Create near perfect conditions for microbes to thrive and microbes will thrive.

Lots of them:

They turned up a strikingly high volume – up to 75 million cells per square centimetre – and variety of bacteria and fungus in the ducks.

As a microbiologist, I’m used to seeing big numbers when it comes to the number of cells in any given place, so yes, that’s a big number, but microbes like to grow in big numbers.

Still, multiply it up for the internal area of this big boy…

…and you’ve got enough bacteria to wipe out the entire planet several times over. Perhaps that’s Florentijn Hofman‘s secret plan.

Anyway, if you’re a parent and you have concerns (or even if you’re not a parent and you have concerns), you have a few options:

Ditch the duck.
Clean the duck.
Buy a watertight rubber duck to prevent internal growth of nasty bugs.

It’s worth noting that actual, real ducks are also watertight, and most of them aren’t full of Legionella and Pseudomonas spp. – lessons from Mother Nature, ne?

But perhaps the best way to avoid diseases transmitted by rubber ducks is not to bath with a rubber duck in the first place. Or – as I mentioned at the start of this post – not to bath at all.

Single parent bathing

And lo, it came to pass that I was left at home with two children to bath and put to bed because Mrs 6k had gone out partying. Which shouldn’t really be a problem, because Mrs 6k has single-handedly bathed and bedded the kids on a number of occasions and is full of helpful hints and tips.
Here’s how it goes:

  • Bath child 1 (3 years old) while child 2 (10 months old) crawls lovingly around your feet in the bathroom.
  • Dress child 1 for bed, plonk in parents’ bed in front of Cbeebies.
  • Bath child 2, dress child 2 for bed, give child 2 bottle, put child 2 in cot.
  • Put child 1 to bed.

Simple, ne?

And here’s what actually happened. Note that I have written this in the third person as my therapist advised me this morning that this way, I may be able to forget it more quickly. PammieJane may want to look away at this point.

The Prologue:

  • Child 1 decided to forgo his lunchtime nap in favour of running around the house and shouting a lot.
  • It is now approaching 7pm and child 1 is extremely tired and irritable.
  • “Toothpaste”, child 1’s Eminem doll, has gone missing and it’s the end of the world.

The Main Act
Part 1:

  • “Toothpaste” is successfully located and reunited with child 1. Child 1 stops crying for 18 seconds.
  • Child 1 does not want to get in the bath. Child 1 is placed in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 2 crawls face-first into the bathroom wall and begins to cry.
  • Loving father comforts child 2. Child 1 defaecates in the bath.
  • Child 1 is removed from bath, the mess is sorted out and the bath re-run.
  • Child 1 does not want to get in the bath. Child 1 is placed in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 1 is washed, removed from the bath and dried.
  • Child 1 is now so tired that he is crying because he doesn’t know why he’s crying.
  • Child 1 is clad in PJ’s and told to go into Mommy and Daddy’s room.
  • Child 1 starts crying because he can’t get into the bed: “It’s too messy”.
  • Loving father agrees, removes heap of wife’s clothes from the bed onto the floor.
  • Loving father removes child 2 from beneath heap of wife’s clothes on the floor.

Part 2:

  • Child 2 does not want to get undressed. Child 2 is undressed and is not happy about it.
  • Loving father hears blood-curdling scream from child 1. Loving father’s blood curdles.
  • Loving father runs through into bedroom, mentally planning route to ER with naked child 2 in his arms.
  • Child 1 is aghast: wants to know why Jake from the Tweenies is wearing those shoes.
  • Loving father takes a very deep breath, counts to 10 and takes child 2 to the bath.
  • Child 2 does not want to get in the bath. Child 2 is placed in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 2 is washed, removed from the bath and dried.
  • Child 2 wants to get in the bath. Child 2 is not allowed to get in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 1 has apparently banged his head on his teddy bear and is crying again.
  • Child 2 is clothed, bottled and plonked happily in her cot.

Part 3:

  • Loving father picks up child 1 and takes him to his own bed.
  • Child 1 cries because he wants to watch Charlie & Lola.
  • Loving father gives in before child 1’s crying wakes child 2 and lets child 1 watch Charlie & Lola.
  • Child 1 cries because he doesn’t want to watch Charlie & Lola.
  • Loving father picks up child 1 and takes him to his own bed.
  • Loving father switches light off and heads downstairs.
  • Loving father cries over a large glass of Vrede & Lust Cara (2003).

The Epilogue:

  • Both children awoken by thunderstorm 20 minutes later.

Of course, even if I could, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Especially the wine.