The boys wanted to play at the playground on the way home from school this week, so I indulged. It gets them running, it gives me a few extra minutes to peck away at my phone.
A mom and her kids had just cycled up, and while Zacharie and Charlie chased each other up slides and across monkey bars, the 3 or 4 yr old, helmet still in place, hoisted himself on to the belt swing and called to his mother who was busy with her younger charge, asleep in her bike chariot.
“Maaaaaahhhhmmm. I need an underduCK,” he said. Deliberately pronouncing the -UCK syllable at the end.
I chuckled to myself. I love it when kids mispronounce things. The way my boys say ‘shupposedly,’ or ‘umvellium vulcan.’
He did it again.“Maaaaaahhhhmmm. I need an underduCK,” I smirked. And then I paused.
You see, my entire life, all 46+ years of it, when someone zooms under someone else at the playground on a swing, it is called an underDOG. Maybe it was because of the cartoon superhero, I don’t know. I am just certain my entire life I have received and given hundreds of underDOGS on the swing.
But that didn’t really make much sense compared to underDUCK now did it? I mean, when you run to push someone under a swing you actually duck at the end. Perhaps this kid wasn’t mispronouncing, perhaps he was a genius.
I took to Facebook, as one does, questioning my entire life’s existence when it came to swing sets. Of the nearly 50 dads who responded in my group to my query about what this awesome rite of death defying childhood swinging should be called, only 5 said it was an underDUCK. The rest were under OGS.
I felt vindicated. Still, I couldn’t shake the fact that an underDUCK made so much more sense than calling it an underDOG.
I went home and asked my wife. You’d think after a decade together and raising two children we’d have spent enough time at playgrounds together to know where we stood on the issue. We didn’t. This week I discovered my wife is an underDUCK.
I asked Google. The question was asked on Typepad a decade ago and the author there chalked the differences up to regional differences.
But the definitive answer will be from my kids. And this is a completely unscientific analysis into the influence of fathers on their children and the type of play we engage in. My kids are underDOGS.
I guess I’m the one who imprinted the awesomeness of pumping your legs to reach the clouds and jumping out so high you feel like you can touch the sky.