This is Bear. He looks a little worn and ragged, but that is for good reason. He has provided countless hours of comfort and companionship to not one small child but two, and he may well be on his way to accompanying a third. My mom got Bear when she was 11 years on a trip to Disneyland and he was her companion for the next five or so years. When I was born, she had him re-stuffed, and he quickly became my most treasured object.
I think that I was the one who so aptly named him. I was never into fru-fru names for my stuffed animals. I took the more practical route. As an example of my naming practices, consider my second most treasured object - a cloth doll named "Good Girl". And why was she named as such? Because my mom brought her home for me one Friday evening after a rough week during which I had been, in her words, a very good girl. So, it was logical in my three year old brain that she should be named Good Girl.
Anyway, back to Bear. I slept with him every night. In fact, his presence was absolutely essential to me being able to fall asleep. And in the interest of full disclosure, let me just say that this continued to be the case well into my teenage years. Due to Bear's presence being required at night time, he was taken with me any time I spent the night somewhere. Since my parents divorced when I was just 18 months old, Bear made the journey with me to my dad's house every other weekend for several years. On at least one occasion, I forgot to bring him home. Come bedtime, I was beside myself - I needed that bear before I could go to sleep. My saintly step-dad made the drive all the way across town to pick my bear up from my dad's house just so that I could go to sleep that night.
This wasn't the only time that my forgetfulness led to extra driving by a parent. I went through a phase where I not only wanted my bear with me at night, but I pretty much wanted him with me all the time. I think I may have been around 6 or 7 at the time. I carried that bear with me into restaurants, over to friends' houses, probably just about everywhere but to school. During one roadtrip with my dad and brother, we stopped to visit some family for a few hours before continuing on our journey. I brought Bear in, played with him a bit, then got distracted and left him on the kitchen counter. We were about 30 minutes away when I realized where he was - still on that kitchen counter! My dad dutifully turned around and returned to the family member's house to retrieve my bear.
I had a rather adventurous childhood, and therefore, so did Bear. We spent two summers in Alaska and about 6 months in Taiwan. Bear was right there with me the whole time. In fact, I give a great deal of credit to Bear for me being mostly well-adjusted, considering how very tumultuous my childhood was. My mom and step-dad and I moved every six months or so for about three years, and then there was the divorce of my parents, and to and froing between my dad's and my mom's, not to mention the previously noted trips. That's a lot for a small child, and I think that Bear helped me feel grounded and comforted.
As I mentioned earlier, my dependence on bear continued through my teenage years, and even on to college. It didn't even occur to me to leave him behind when I packed up and head to Los Angeles. During the first month of freshman year, my roommate thought it would be funny to throw Bear out of the second story window. Although I laughed along with her, I didn't find it all that funny. When I came home from college at the end of the semester, I lovingly retired Bear - I just wasn't sure he would survive the college years. That being said, I also knew that I was fairly dependent on him to fall asleep. So, my mom and I went shopping for a replacement bear. We finally found one that was an acceptable stand-in. Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen, I, a 19 year old college freshman, bought myself a teddy bear so that I could fall asleep at night.
At then end of my freshman year, I got a job working at a summer camp in NJ, a camp that eventually became my home and my full time job for over five years. That first summer, though, was intense. To save space (and probably to save face, too) I had opted not to pack my bear for the summer. I figured I was old enough to sleep without him. My first night at camp, I found myself sleeping on damp sheets on a rickety old army cot, under a mosquito net, in a tee-pee. I instantly felt the need for comfort and regretted not having my source of comfort with me. So, on my first chance, I called my mom and had her send me my bear. Yep, I took my bear to camp with me...as a counselor!
While I loved that new bear, Bear holds a special place in my heart. Imagine my delight, then, when the other morning Cyrus came out of my mom's bedroom holding Bear lovingly in his arms, and squealing with joy. Perhaps Bear has one more generation of comfort left in him, after all...