Monday, June 10, 2013

A Boy & His Bear

In what initially seemed like a story of lost love and neglect, my sister sent me this sad picture (on right) of her son's red stuffed animal, aptly named Bear:

Before & After

I figured the photo reflected Bear's abandonment on a sandy beach - a final disavowment of him for being such a horribly old and decrepit thing.

But I was wrong.

Before I go on, let's first reflect on life with Bear.

Bear as Teething Toy

Bear as pillow

Bear as pre-op nurse (for tubes in ears)

Bear as protector of the wild

Bear as artistic muse

Bear has served many purposes in his worn and wearied life, perhaps none as important as his role as grief counselor when my nephew suddenly and unexpectedly lost his father. Bear represented continuity and consistency when the whole world went mad. Bear was as real and as important as any friend or relative out there.

I am not sure what the mental health experts have to say about childhood attachments to stuffed animals.  I do not know if they frown upon kids finding comfort and love through "imagined" conversations and friendships. 

But I believe there is some magic in these loyal companions, these bits of cloth and buttons, who loom so very large in our early years.

And what of that picture of "abandoned" Bear on the beach?  'Twasn't so.  It was actually Bear accompanying the family on a recent vacation and our tired red friend was simply getting some color.

Thank you, Bear.  For all that you have weathered and all that you have done.  Next time you visit, I will be sure to introduce you to a very good friend of mine. 

I call him Pooh.

In case of fire, Pooh is the only thing I would grab after my children and husband.

38 comments:

  1. I recently took Pandy Bear and stored him high on a shelf as my 11 year old is too old to need him anymore, but neither of us would EVER get rid of him. Attachment objects are SO special. I miss my old black pillow that had the horrendously ugly brocade-type decor on it. I believe my grandma bought it in Mexico and it was HIDEOUS. I loved it. I wrote about Pandy a few years ago... I miss that guy.

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    1. I love that your 11 year old still covertly loves Pandy as well! I am sorry about your old pillow - I know what you mean about the importance of attachment objects.

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  2. Every now and then I consider caring what the experts might say about "lovies", but then I figure any negative notions are just jealousy that they don't have one! We have an airpee and a lambie here (oh and my mousey as well). I also have a backup of each one tucked away in the event that they are needed for future generations. Of course, my son caught on that there was a backup many years ago, so he has two airps...not knowing there was actually a third waiting in the wings-that pun might have been intended. Upon realizing our daughter's love for lambie, we called the company on the tag to find he had been discontinued, but the woman said she's look around. She found ONE, and promptly sent it to us and we sent the money. It is funny because when I saw that first picture of bear, my immediate thought was "Oh, he looks so loved!"

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    1. That is hilarious that you had TWO back-ups!! I knew you were awesome, but I don't think I ever appreciated the full degree of your planning & devotion! Of course you saw that Bear was loved. It took me a little longer...but what else is new?

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  3. Wonderful illustrated saga of Bear. Sorry about the loss of a father and glad that Bear had an important role as a grief counselor. How is the family doing now?

    Did Bear lose some stuffing along the way? Our dog tears up his toys and the stuffing comes out and he feel accomplished. I used to be concerned that he is destroying the toys we buy for him, but then I realized that I am glad he leaves our furniture and my shoes alone--now, although he he was puppy these were fair game for him.

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    1. Thanks, Carol! The family is doing okay, it's been about a year and a half. And BOY did Bear lose some stuffing...did you see how fat he was originally? It's like he's been extreme dieting.

      Glad to hear your dog honors your furniture and shoes! That would be a "bear." ha ha. I kill me.

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  4. Loved this post,Marianne. Made me cry. Bear is obviously an important part of the family. I have beloved stuffed animals put away for my boys...although most of the memories will be mine, not theirs.

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    1. I was thinking the same thing (I plan on saving the boys' favorites), but I know it will definitely be more for me. Thanks for reading & commenting, Tina!

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  5. My 17 year old daughter & 14 year old son STILL have their favorite stuffed animals in their rooms. Sometimes, you just need something to hold on to.

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    1. Amen to that! And for the record, Pooh is the only one in my family who NEVER talks back. :)

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  6. I passed my bear on to Spawn when he was born and it still sits on his bed every night, minus some stuffing and a ripped nose.

    This was beautiful Marianne and the subject matter, would make an excellent children's book. :)

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    1. I knew Spawn had a soft soft! He's mush, isn't he? C'mon. Fess up. I won't ruin his street cred.

      And thank you for the kind words, Lily - I agree whole-heartedly.

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  7. So funny and heartfelt Mar. Love it! I'll bring Panda to hang out with long lost BFF Pooh. The family is doing awesome! We are The Three Musketeers! But if you want the inside scoop, we're really The Three Stooges. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Life is good.

    XOXO

    Megan

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    1. A Pooh-Panda reunion?? Think of the photo op! I'm in!

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  8. Gorgeous story Marianne:)
    Bear is probably quite stuffed after all that work, except he doesn't look it - Nothing a good square meal of kapok wouldn't fix.

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    1. ...googling "kapok"....


      Thank you, Julie!!

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  9. I love this so much.
    My Ella has "duck".
    She got it at 9 months old and sleeps with it every single night.
    Lovies make the world a little nicer.

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    1. Lovies DEFINITELY make the world nicer.

      My sister had a skunk. I thought it was awesome. Ducks and skunks...there's something wonderful about stuffed animals.

      But you still can't make me go to the zoo.

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  10. So very sweet- to be loved so much that you're hugged till you're empty of stuffing but full of love. Who could ask for more.

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    1. Exactly. I feel a bit like Bear many days. Old & haggard, but very loved. :)

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  11. This is so sweet. Mental health experts highly approve of attachment objects. Bear is so beautiful in the way that only something so well-loved can be.
    I have my old teddy bear, Albert, but I am much more attached to my kids' lovies than I am to my own. Funny how that happens.
    This is such an evocative little piece, Marianne.

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    1. Thanks, TangledLou! I like to think of Bear as being a bit like me - old, tired & worn but still very loved. :)

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  12. Love this, Marianne. My husband and I both still have our childhood bears, and when there WAS a fire, they were what we grabbed. :) (That was before the kids... we'd probably grab them now...)

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    1. Oh my gosh - that is both hysterical and terrifying. Glad everyone survived! Thanks for visiting, Skwish!!

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  13. My mom made me a stuffed dog (Fred) when I was a little girl. He was my constant companion and I slept with him every night. He still holds a place of honor in front of the pillows every day when the bed is made. Awesome story, Bear. :)

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    1. Must. Blog. About. Fred. For me! With pictures!!!

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  14. My son was attached to a bear, as well. I hope your nephew and sister are doing okay.

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    1. See Meg's comment above - they are all doing okay. And still finding ways to laugh. Thanks, Kirby.

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  15. Oh, I love this! Bear looks like a treasured friend, as well as Pooh. My son has Froggy and my daughter has Snoopy, and I have a Care Bear that I've now given to my daughter. Such wonderful little friends.

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    1. I know they get up in the middle of the night to dance and eat cookies. I JUST KNOW IT. So real.

      Thanks for reading & commenting, Mamarific!

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  16. love love love, Mar!
    Xander has a little doggie that he couldnt part with when very little. I nearly called the manufacturer to get a few more spares. Nolan has a curious george monkey (who is called Monkey - we lack originality up here in Milwaukee) and he can't go to sleep without it so it goes with us to visit grandparents and to overnight trips.

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    1. You are one smart mom! Back-ups ARE the key! Why didn't anyone tell me???

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  17. Awww, so sweet. I still have "Froggy" which believe it or not is a stuffed frog.

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    1. You have gift with naming, Diane!!

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  18. I have a new appreciation for stinky monkey. Thanks Marianne.

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    1. Stinky Monkey would turn his nose up at Bear, wouldn't he? Snob. ;)

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  19. So sweet! Love the bear as muse photo. Oh my gosh, laughing!

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