Everyone, meet Ted E. Bear. Ted, meet everyone.
So during February vacation I got this wild, insane idea to take J to the mall to try Build a Bear Workshop. You see, he’s in this phase where if it is not Thomas the Tank Engine toys he’s obsessing over, it’s stuffed animals. What could be better than trying to make his own?
Now, given that all the kids in the state were out of school the mall was the expected madness. He did great though. Had a minor incident in the play area but really took it in stride. We walked happily all the way across the mall to Build a Bear where we found ourselves confronted with something near every human has trouble dealing with: gaggles of giddy kids. It looked like a little girl was having her party and while she and her friends were having a grand time, as they should, J was ready initially to just be done with the place before even stepping in. The allure of stuffed creatures proved strong however and I got him inside.
Build a Bear has many critters for its customers to choose from, from bears to bunnies to cats and then some. I pointed out different bears, different cats, different dogs, different horses… I showed him some wearing clothes and some that were not. I showed him pretty much everything in the store and he showed very little interest. The busy factor was making it hard to focus after all… Until he saw the blue teddy bear.
“Blue bear! Blue bear! Blue bear!”, came the giddy cries.
“You want Blue Bear?” I asked, picking up the then unstuffed blue bear to show him. “Are you sure you do not want red, or brown?”
I carefully showed him the other options slowly one last time. He was unmoved. It was going to be Blue Bear or it was going to be nothing. Fine by me!
He waited patiently in line to stuff the bear. He handed his bear to the woman working the machine, which sounded like a blow dryer chewing rocks and he braved like a true trooper. She asked him “Soft, or hard?” in terms of how much fluff to go in the bear, demonstrating how each felt.
“Hard!” he answered. She smiled, and stuffed the bear according to his answer.
He picked a small satiny heart out of a bin and placed it within his bear, then watched with fascination as the lady neatly tied up his back and finished him off. “Wow,” he said, eyes wide as he beheld his new friend.
He was giddy. I was near tears. We looked around a little longer and then went to pay for our new family member…
… And me, being the genius that I am, had left my wallet in the car. I had taken it out of my bag to pay for gas on the way over, and had not put it back. This would be a terrible situation no matter what your child is dealing with. You try to tell an almost 4-year-old that the toy you just helped them lovingly choose and make has to stay in the store while you run across the mall and back out to the car for your wallet.
The ladies were amazing. They spoke warmly and directly to J and reassured him that his bear would be right there, awaiting him. That when we came back he could have him right away. I was so embarrassed but so grateful… and he and I dashed through the mall like our rear’s were on fire. When we hit the door to go to the car, the tears began.
“Blue bear, blue bear…,” he wailed pitifully.
Talk about feeling one inch tall.
However, all was made well when he realized we were turning RIGHT around to go back in and commence Operation Bear Retrieval! The moment I had paid he took blue bear from the box, wrapped him in his arms and has been besties with him ever since. When I ask him who he is hugging, he usually answers “Ted E. Bear” (said with that sort of inflection to it, rather than teddy bear) or “Jacob’s Ted E. Bear”.
Just to reassure that Miss Kitty has not been cast aside, here is the current group shot of the cast of characters that I might as well call my other kids, since I am always hauling one or more of this gang out and about with us: