Bilingual

Do Ducks Fart?

Ducklings: can they or can’t they?
Photo: (c) The WritingWell

I took my sons to feed the ‘local ducks’ after school on Monday this week. I had some stale bread. The sun was shining so we dawdled home and took a detour after picking my eldest up from school.

As we approached the oversized pond a pair of black coots and their offspring swam nonchalantly over to us and waited for huge chunks of old bread to be lugged at their heads (my two year old has not grasped quite how small the pieces of bread should be, or that he can throw it gently near the ducks). As my two older boys were throwing slices of bread a larger white duck came waddling over to get in on the action.

My eldest turned his attention to the newcomer and proceeded to throw bread at for the white duck. When the duck had finished his meal he shook his feathers and flapped his wings (when I say he, I don’t exclude she – who knows?). My eldest son started laughing,

“Volgens mij mama heeft hij net een poepie gelaten.” (“I think that duck just farted.”) Then he stopped giggling and looked very seriously at me to ask,

“Laten eendjes wel poepies mama?” (Do ducks fart mama?)

“I imagine so,” I replied, blindsided by the unexpected question.

Before I became a mother, I had never contemplated whether a duck passes wind. It has never come up before in any conversation I have ever had. It’s not a topic du jour. Now it’s a question I am pondering in two languages. I told my son I imagined a duck could fart (though I didn’t use that word with him – it’s not a word a bilingual five year old needs to add to his vocabulary – his Dutch vocabulary is already more than sufficient on this subject….) but actually I don’t know. So I googled it. I wish I hadn’t.

I do now know that a Duck Fart is a cocktail (and a nice sounding one at that) but whether ducks actually fart…. none the wiser. I read on one site that they don’t. They can’t get rid of gases so if you give them gassy food they explode…… Another site assured me that ducks do indeed fart – why on earth else would there be bubbles in the water around ducks? *sigh*

I would like to be able to go back to my curious son and give him the correct answer. So…. question of the week:

“Laten eendjes wel poepies?”

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