This is Brown Bear.
Yes, that is his real name. And, yes, he is a he. The four-year-old could tell you any of that. Even dressed in a sailor dress, Brown Bear is, and always will be, “he” as far as G. is concerned.
G. got that bear as a gift when she was BORN and she really hasn’t slept a night without him since.
Brown Bear is precious.
Truth? People love Brown Bear. She’ll drag that bear into the post office and the old man working there will give her a soft smile. “I love your teddy,” he’ll say. “That bear is clearly well-loved. I like that bear so much more than those ‘Build a Fancy Bear Creature’ things I see kids dragging around and losing interest in.”
G. just smiles. She doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. She just knows she loves Brown Bear.
One thing she loves about Brown Bear? This little tag loop on his backside:
Ever since she was a wee baby, she’s liked to slip her finger in that loop as she’s falling asleep.
Amazingly, that loop held up to this abuse for years. But, eventually, after going through the washer umpteen dozen times, the fibers were just weakened. One night, she slipped her finger in the loop and– SNAP!– it broke.
I mended it.
I mended it the next five times it broke, too.
About a week ago, G. had a week where she was having some accidents. Nothing major, mind you. I think it was just the result of being really exhausted and sleeping deeply. Still, there was some more laundry involved and, since Brown Bear is always right there with her, he needed to be washed several times.
And the loop snapped again.
The ends were frayed. The tag material was so weak and brittle. I couldn’t imagine trying to reattach it.
“Sweetie…” I led off, gently. “I just don’t think he can be fixed any more. I think he’s just too far gone this time. I know you love him, but…”
And tears filled her green eyes. She took a shuddering breath. Then she raised her little chin.
“I love him. I have always loved him. I will love him no matter how broken he is, Mommy. But we have to try. If you love something this much, you always try to fix him. You don’t stop thinking he can be fixed… I think he can be fixed.”
I met her sweet, stubborn little gaze and listened as my preschooler spoke truth.
He wasn’t beyond fixing. No matter how broken he was, she would always believe in that bear’s beauty and goodness.
And, so, I took needle and thread, once again, and did my best.
She wrapped small, strong arms around him, held him close. And I heard her whisper,
“I love you, Brown Bear. No matter what happens to you, you’ll always be perfect. And I’ll do anything to help fix your broken spots.”
Good words, sweet G. Good words.