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April 5, 2017

The history of the Baby Bear

I blame my middle child syndrome for my parental-consistency craving (and many other things, but that's a whole bunch of other posts).  I don't know what happened with the baby bear thing.  It just got away from me . . . 

In our family 'Baby Bear' is a term used to describe a kid's lovey.  Their security blanket.  My sister gave Laddie a Puffalump  - a small teddy bear made of satin with a tiny rattle inside of it when he was born.  This teddy became his sleeping companion.

My older, wiser sister suggested that babies should have something to soothe them.  She believed if was important to help them sleep in a strange place like a hotel or grandma's house.  She pointed out with a bit of a scoff that as children we weren't allowed such indulgences.  She clearly felt our parents paid us a disservice by eliminating our attachment to something soft.

I come from a very controlling family, so I chose my sister's Puffalump gift to be Laddie's lovey.  I purposefully left it in his crib solo - giving him no say in the matter.  It was small enough to pack easily, and it was washable.  Done.

Newborn Laddie in the Bulls uniform with his Baby Bear Puffalump and his cousins (Ann's boys) with their matching Baby Bears. 
Baby Bear rarely left Lad's crib except for the times I would tuck it into the diaper bag for away-from-home naps or shots at the doctor's office, etc.  I was not the carry-your-Baby-Bear-around-with-you-wherever-you-go kind of mom. 

Somewhere along the way Lad christened his teddy 'Baby Bear' and after that no matter what his younger siblings became attached to, we referred to it as a 'Baby Bear'. 

Much to Ann's chagrin, Fisher Price discontinued manufacturing Puffalumps shortly before Eddie arrived.  Ann, control freak extraordinaire, was very upset.  All of her kids had matching Puffalumps, as did all of the nieces and nephews that she had given one to up until then.  Because she's a survivor, she overcame this challenging anti-type A obstacle and opted to order personalized stuffed animal heads with blanket bodies for all subsequent newborn relatives.

It is clear that by our second child I began to lose my tight grip.  Ed never cared much for his pale blue bear head with the blanket body.  Instead he insisted on taking a beanie baby to bed and sucking on the tag.  (Much to the horror of my mother-in-law, I outlawed pacifiers and even put socks over infant hands to discourage thumb sucking.  I know . . .  my offspring will be in therapy for years).  Eddie rebelled against my insanity by sucking on that damn crusty tag. 

Please note that for all of my efforts I ended up with four thumb suckers.  Mini quit her thumb inexplicably at the ripe old age of 8 months.  I suspected that it was teething pain . . . or more likely - it was because she already wanted to please me. 

Tank and Mini loved their Baby Bear gifts from Aunt Ann.  Reggie, who is freakishly like Ed in almost every way making it believable to our friends that we actually cloned him from this older brother, was more taken with an insanely soft, itty-bitty sized blanket.  Curly took after the majority of our kids.  She adored her pink Baby Bear. 

Tank, an avid thumb sucker, was unsuccessful at sucking his thumb unless his hand was interwoven in his Baby Bear blanket's edge.  Once when he was overcome with an incredibly annoying crying fit in the car, I encouraged him to suck his thumb.  He was about 18 months old but he couldn't figure out how to self soothe with just a thumb in the absence of his Baby Bear.  He held up his favored digit and just stared at me in disbelief as if to say, 'Lady, I don't suck on this - ever.' 

As a toddler Tank used to escape to his room and reach between the slats of the crib to grab hold of Baby Bear when he needed a thumb sucking fix.  Translation:  he was in trouble or scared or maybe both.  The head of his Baby Bear was actually a dog that Tank decapitated more than once trying to yank it thru the crib slats.  I sewed that head back on quicker than you could say 'Tank wouldn't nap today.' 

Tank's Dog-like Baby Bear being stored in my closet drawer with a partially attached head.
Either I was starting to slip or the last few kids were demonstrating their clever side, but Baby Bears started to make an appearance outside of bedtime. 

Sesame Street was my one-hour opportunity to clean up the kitchen from breakfast, shower, and maybe start a load of laundry.  When the older kids were at school, Reg would sneak into his crib and then into Curly's.  He'd snatch up her Baby Bear and his blankie. 

It was too damn cute to correct.  Reggie would shuffle thru the kitchen sideways so that I couldn't see what was behind his back.  As if!  He'd lock his clear blue eyes with mine and repeat the word 'nothing.'  It sounded like, 'Nuffing, nuffiing, nuffing'  . . . as in 'nothing to see here'.  I wasn't fooled for an instant, but I preferred a clean kitchen and a shower to a battle in those days. 

Eventually Coach and I took the liberty of retiring multiple Baby Bears, a beanie baby with the discolored tag, and a blankie when each kid got to a certain age - around 3 but definitely by age 4.    Except Curly's.  I can't explain what happened.  Her Baby Bear never joined my collection of well-loved items in the secret drawer in my closet.           

3 Baby Bears and a blankie hanging together in my closet drawer.  Laddie's Puffalump must be stored in a different but equally secret (so secret I'm not convinced I know how to find it) bin in the basement.
The kids, who were robbed of their favorite bedtime buddy at an early age, dispute Curly's 9 year bedtime companion allowance.  I have no defense.  It just sort of happened. 

So, I explain the Baby Bear history so that you understand what went down last week.  With very few Baby Bears circulating thru the house, we dodged the lost Baby Bear incident for years . . . until spring break . . . 


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