The Day My Son’s Favourite Stuffy Became an Inanimate Object

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June 9, 2016 by Katia

Blue Bear - it2

Blue Bear’s fur is pale blue, its colour and texture immediately categorize him as a washing machine veteran. His tail is short but long enough for little fingers to clasp. The fur on the tail is a bit more stiff and rigid suggesting frequent touch. Clinging. On his belly there’s a fading needlework inscription in light blue, it’s in Hebrew and it reads A prince is born and nothing more, as if everything else – the waiting, the jubilation – is implicit.

In the small family that I come from, consisting of mother, father, grandmother, great aunt and one single daughter – me, all of us scattered across three different continents, the birth of the first great grandchild was nothing short of a historical event. Blue Bear was purchased in Israel by my great aunt and travelled to North America in my mother’s suitcase when she arrived here to greet her grandchild. This was his first of many travels.

I don’t remember exactly when Blue Bear morphed from a description into a name. What I do know is that neither one of us named him that. It’s almost as if he came into our lives with a name, just as any other personified character would.

Blue Bear served as a best friend during a time when my toddler son’s heart asked for friendships but reality didn’t produce much. He attended numerous “Bring Your Stuffy to School” days despite the fact that the mere use of the term “stuffy” in relation to Blue Bear made us cringe. It felt like a tactless, if not darn right offensive, reduction completely overlooking Blue Bear’s significance, personal traits and role in our child’s life. Equally tactless was the pairing of Blue Bear and a washing machine in the same sentence. Does YOUR best friend and life companion take their baths in one? The cover up became challenging as Blue Bear, quite literally, had his hands in every pie and was always in need of a good wash.  Blue Bear was a silent testimony of our son’s daily minutiae. He would loyally absorb spilled milk, forgivingly accept Ketchupy kisses and sacrifice the plush fur of his tail to endless grasping, fiddling and often sucking moments before his friend, Ben, would fall asleep.

Blue Bear was the protagonist in many of our son’s stories and a constant conversation staple. He had a biography, opinions, suggestions and tons of character.  It wasn’t long before we, the other members of the family and close circle of friends, started contributing to the elevation of Blue Bear’s status into an almost mythical one. Sometimes when our son was fearful at bedtime we needed Blue Bear to become a superhero, a bodyguard and a protective amulet. Sometimes it hurt that we were so far away and I wanted my son to feel the people that I was growing up with, so I would tell him how my great aunt, Baba* Nina, is the kindest person I know and how she planted a seed of her love and kindness in Blue Bear when she bought him and that this is why Blue Bear is so dear and loved and loving, and I started believing in this myth that I created myself.

Blue Bear travelled with us, locally and internationally, never in the trunk of the car (a mistake, no – a crime, which was only committed once) and on their short and forced separation periods on kindergarten days, my son would often wonder what his companion was doing or thinking.

Relationships change as people grow up and so did our son’s relationship with Blue Bear. With the appearance of actual real live friends Blue Bear became less of an active contributor, but his presence – at bedtime, trips and Bring Your Stuffy to School days – was still a given.

Last month our son turned seven. He shed his endearing little boy lisp and started pronouncing the letter “s” correctly.  He simultaneously seeks independence and the approval of his friends. He is still afraid of the dark and believes in certain kinds of magic but now he also trades Pokemon cards, fakes crushes and keeps his ears open in the schoolyard in attempt to pick up swear words. We recently travelled to Italy with our new seven year-old and didn’t take Blue Bear with us. As my son was settling into his own bed upon return, my husband drew his attention to the forsaken friend who sat patiently by our son’s pillow.

“Look, Blue Bear’s here,” he said. “He missed you”.

“I don’t sleep with it anymore” was my son’s reply.

 

 

15 thoughts on “The Day My Son’s Favourite Stuffy Became an Inanimate Object

  1. My boys versions of Blue Bear still sit on a shelf in their rooms (they are 16 and 20) for my sake, not theirs. I don’t think they even notice them but I do and I remember the day they announced that they no longer needed to sleep with their toys. It broke my heart.

    • Katia says:

      Oh, I completely understand that feeling of clinging onto a toy and doing it for us, not the kids, it keeps that broken piece of our heart from falling. I can’t imagine ever being able to put Blue Bear away or, God forbid, dispose of him.

  2. Lizzi says:

    Ohhhhhhhhh OUCH!

    Beautifully written, and fear not, Blue Bear still has a place in your family, just give Ben time to come back around and acknowledge that🙂

    • Katia says:

      Thank you, love!

      I believe in the power of Universe and Ben and yesterday as I put the last edits in it was my turn to put Ben to bed. As if he had read my post he pulled Blue Bear close to him as he hadn’t done in months and rested his head on him. He then said “I still like it” (he still called Blue Bear it, which yes, ouch) and invited me to hold Blue Bear’s foot, so you see, you’re wise and right and I love you for your heart.

      • Lizzi says:

        Awwwwwwh there’s no way he’d give up on Blue Bear so easily. There’s something about bears, and I think they really DO have some of the heart of the person who gave them to us, especially ones given to babies. I still have my first Blue Bear (also called Blue Bear, so this post really touched a deep chord in my heart), who was given to me before I was born, by friends of my mum. He has velvet paws and I don’t even KNOW how many times he was washed (if ever! eeek!) but I know he’s in a box in my mum’s attic, and it matters a LOT that he’s there, safe, with my other ‘stuffies’ <#

      • Katia says:

        No way! I couldn’t answer earlier and I skimmed the comment quickly thinking that you borrowed the term blue bear but as I read your message now and realized that you literally had one it tugged at my heart. Your words made me think of a teddy bear I myself gifted my best friend’s daughter when she was a baby and remembered by bff saying it was her girl’s favourite toy. It’s probably true that we leave a piece of ourselves I n them.❤

      • Lizzi says:

        Ohhhh I think we most definitely do. For sure. And I love that you gave one to your best friend’s daughter. That’s so special. Bears are important and the love they hold is absolutely real.

  3. doar verde says:

    The day he became …”man”!

  4. Cookie says:

    Aww. That’s so sad….growing up is just so hard.
    My daughter has two stuffies that she refers to as her pets. She told me they come alive when she’s no there ( like the toys in Toy Story).
    They are a white cat with a pink bow and a white bear with a blue bow, called “Meow and Goo”.
    They look disgusting, lol…..she takes them everywhere and they have been through the washer a gazillion times.
    It will be a sad day when she gives them up. 😦

    • Katia says:

      Favourite stuffies have to look disgusts it comes with the territory!😀 I love that your daughter’s stuffies come to life at night. That’s exactly the way children should see the world.

  5. I wonder if boys approach this differently to girls? I still have my favourite childhood stuffy, a very flattened dormouse called Desmond, in the top drawer of my bedside cabinet. He has moved from place to place with me, even travelling to America with me in 2008. I’m sure I’ll still have him when I’m a little old lady. As of this moment, I am 29 years old. My sons are 4 and 19 months. They both have favourite cuddly toys (both rabbits, curiously, although not the same brand) and I have noticed that my four-year-old will happily pass a whole day without need of his bunny friend, but come bedtime he still needs him to sleep. I too am dreading the day when Bab Bab and Snuggle Bunny no longer have a place in my boys’ lives.

    • Katia says:

      That’s an interesting question. While I don’t have my first doll with me in Canada, I know exactly where she is in my mom’s home in Israel. Are girls more inclined to be nostalgic or nurturing? I don’t know, there are probably studies about that. Would be curious to find out. I love the question you raise and the fact that you still have your favourite stuffie.

  6. larva225 says:

    This makes me so sad! We have our versions of Blue Bear around here, and I dread the day that Sweet Kitty, Flat Kitty, and Teeny Tiny McQueen are no longer significant.

  7. Katia says:

    This made me very sad on so many levels. In a weird way this was also a means of connection to my great aunt who had since passed away and this made me feel like we’re abandoning her. To make you less sad he rediscovered Blue Bear that very same night that I wrote the post. I don’t think this connection ever fully fades away. At least I hope not.

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