When we were in Portland visiting my brother and his wife a couple of weeks ago, my parents joined us there for part of the trip. One warm day we took a long walk to a beautiful park, where we had a picnic, played on the playground, and fed the ducks in the pond.
It was a day full of classic grandparent/grandchildren activities. Until...
"Excuse me." The voice was coming from a kid, about eight years old, who'd approached us at the pond. The child earnestly continued, "I'm here with my school, and we're doing a study on the pond. You really shouldn't feed the ducks. People are feeding them, and they're getting sick."
I put the bread I was holding back into its bag and replied, "Well, then I guess we'd better stop feeding them! Thank you for telling us!"
By this time other kids had joined the original. One of them pointed to an apple at the edge of the pond. "Oh, they can eat apples!" she said. "And you can feed them duck food." (Duck food?)
Another kid held out the clipboard he was holding, where he had a paper for recording data. He carefully erased the "0" he'd written next to the question, "How many groups of people did you see feeding the ducks?" "Now I can write '1' here!" he happily declared.
One girl sweetly told me, "I'm sorry you can't feed the ducks. I used to go feed the ducks with my dad, and it was the only time he left the house." Oh, goodness. I tried to be encouraging, telling her that maybe she could get some duck food and come back with her dad.
The kids returned to their group, and we packed up to leave, glad we'd been able to oblige by unwittingly participating in their study (and hoping we hadn't made any ducks sick by feeding them that evil bread.)