This is Bear. I'm not sure how much I have mentioned him here on the blog, but he is a big part of our family. He is Vivi's "lovey" or security blanket, except that he's not a blanket. When Vivi was born, I didn't intend for her to have a lovey. It sounded exhausting to me to have to keep up with something that would become so precious that a moment of forgetfulness would become catastrophic, so I in no way encouraged her to attach to a specific toy or blanket. However, she had other plans.
For whatever reason, Vivi attached herself to Bear when she was about 6 months old. They became inseparable, and she napped with him, slept with him, loved him. It became incredibly charming when she could talk, and called him "be-yaw". I found myself becoming attached, too. I began to adore the way his face was becoming threadbare from snuggles, and the sweet little sound his beanbag bottom would make when she plopped him down. As she got older, he calmed her when she fell and hurt herself, or when she felt sad, or went somewhere different and strange. Now that she is a couple of months past three, he is still her favorite companion and can usually be found within very close proximity of Vivi.
Last Saturday, we all went out for a family lunch to Chipotle (yum!). Chip was home from work, so I felt, as usual, a little lift of responsibility since there were the two of us, and I love having family outings. Chip got Brigette out of the car, and I got Vivi. She begged to take Bear in with us, something I rarely ever agree to, but she was so very sweet about it so I said she could. She said, "I will be so careful, Mama, and make sure to hold on to him!" We had a wonderful lunch, and then went home, and Vivi and I went to a birthday party while Chip and Brigie stayed home. When we returned, it was time for Vivi to have a little quiet time in her room, and she requested Bear. I couldn't find him. I looked everywhere. Then I realized with a sinking heart that he must be at Chipotle. I was certain of it. I always keep an eye on him, but in my Saturday morning bliss, I just forgot to ensure his return to the car. I immediately told Chip and we called Chipotle, but they hadn't seen him. Chip drove back to make sure, but he could find no trace of beloved little Bear. I was so upset. I knew the day would come when Vivi would move on from Bear, but I had plans for him. I'd never just throw him away. I have pictured myself on many occasions snuggling with him in bed after Vivi leaves for college. I became teary eyed. Surely no one would throw him away! But how could you know how precious he is? At this point, he looks more like a little rat than a Bear, and he's far from being the white and fluffy little animal he once was. I was worried about him. I started to have flashbacks to Toy Story 3, and pictured Bear somehow making his way back to our house, peeking in the windows, and seeing with a broken heart that Vivi had replaced him (crazy, much?) and then leaving because he thought he was no longer loved. We put Vivi to bed and gave her the replacement Bear that she has never taken to, and she put up a small fuss, but really went to bed fine. Meanwhile, I cried through singing the nighttime songs and could hardly get through them.
After bedtime, I started really crying and Chip said, "this isn't all about Bear, is it?" Really, who in their right mind becomes broken hearted over a stuffed animal? Surely there was some bigger story there. But, no. It was about Bear. It was like saying goodbye to Vivi's babyhood. It was a big deal. And I felt it. He said "well, that settles it. We're never getting a dog." I recovered somewhat, but still felt very off about it all. We stayed up late working on the new site I keep talking about, and when I finally crawled into bed, there was something at my feet. Surely it was too good to be true. I reached down, and it was in fact Bear, buried in the covers of our bed, the one place I didn't think (who would?) to look. I triumphantly showed him to Chip and felt very relieved. I don't know why in the world Vivi found that to be a good place to put him, but I'm so very glad he was there. Vivi woke up at 4 a.m. with a bad dream, and Chip returned Bear to his very happy owner.
So there he is. I know that day is coming when he'll no longer be needed, but for now, I'm so grateful to have the little fellow home right where he belongs, clutched in Vivi's little hand. Well, there and perhaps the washing machine.