When our daughter was born, I splurged on a pink teddy bear whose music box played tinkling lullabies.
I placed it in her line of vision. “Honey, she’s singing to you.”
Baby appeared more interested in shiny doorknobs.
Even as she grew, she took little notice of the prissy teddy.
Several years later, her kindergarten class planned to celebrate Teddy Bear Day, bringing their little buddies to school.
When I suggested Callie take her prissy teddy, she rolled her eyes, but hauled the bear in her backpack.
After school, an odd sight met my eyes. An enormous teddy bear ambled toward me, underscored by thin, little legs.
“Big Bear wanted to come home with me,” Callie explained.
“But — it doesn’t belong to you.”
“Teacher said we could exchange bears for a week. Sarah took mine, and she let me take him.”
Big Bear made himself at home in Callie’s appliance-box house. He starred in made-up plays and musicals. At bedtime check, I did a double take.
Twins in Callie’s bed?
I often messed up carpools. Had I lost track of how many children I’d birthed?
No, Big Bear was bunking with her. Relief poured through me, relief that soon vanished as her tiny arm curled possessively around his large, furry body.
Soon, I had to say, “Honey, Big Bear has to go home.”
Callie stared at me with sad, dark eyes, but returned him.
Christmas was coming soon. Usually, the Santa at our house frowned on extravagant gifts. But when I encountered Big Bear’s cousin at Kmart, I brought him home.
Hiding him from Callie was like concealing a body from the FBI, but the wide-eyed grin that greeted him Christmas morning made Operation Big Bear worth it. In no time, he was singing in basement Broadway productions and snuggling with Callie at night. He smiled from her bed every day.
When she married, Big Bear moved with her to her new home.
One recent weekend, Callie’s ferret-fast son and I were engaged in a pillow fight. Desperate for ammunition, I grabbed the nearest soft object.
My opponent took gross advantage of my surprise and knocked me flat. Big Bear, ever the sympathizer, stayed by me.
Despite a missing eye, Big Bear had survived little-boy love and numerous pillow wars. Judging by his purple-stained face, someone must have fed him jelly doughnuts — which explained why he appeared as flabby as I. He’d lost padding, though, which I’d found. Not fair.
Still, Big Bear’s presence was strangely comforting. Did Callie — now a strong, loving woman — still sneak moments with him?
Kindergartner, teenager, mom or grandma. Sometimes, we all need a Big Bear hug.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you still cherish a childhood stuffed animal?