WHAT TEDDY BEARS ARE FOR
by Victoria Gregory
I have been here for a long time. How long I do not know, but I know why I’m here. I’m waiting; I’m just not sure what for. I was not born into this world, but I was made by those who were. I was made for a special purpose, one I do not know. No one told me what it is. When I was made I was put in to a dark place with others like me and sent here, wherever here is.
I and the others like me were picked up and placed on seats facing others like us, but not like us. Here I wait for the day when I can do what I was made to do, even though I haven’t figured it out yet.
Until then, being here isn’t so bad. There are always the big people walking around with shiny wheel things filled with stuff and talking about something called “food.” Sometimes there are other things in the baskets. I cant figure out what any of it is for, including the food. Am I food? Maybe I am a piece of food too. After all, the big people sometimes put one of the others like me (or not like me) in their shiny wheel things too.
I don’t plan on going with them though. I am waiting for my purpose. If one of them takes me I might never figure it out. I won’t go! Uh-uh, nope not me. Oh wait, who is this big person, the one with the long fur. This person is looking at me like she just had an idea. Hey wait! No, no, no, I don’t want to go, put me down! Umff. Uhg. Not in the wheel thingy! Oh no, where are you taking me? Put me back! Ka-fumf. O-o k-kay, th-his i-is a-a st-trange fe-eel-ing. Wh-hy do-oes thi-is wh-heel th-hing-gy g-go ker-plunk, ker-plunk? Oh wait, this table moves and vibrates! It Tickles! Wait, what was that beeping sound? Umph! OK, What is this weird plastic thing around me? Oo-kay n-ow mo-ore ker-plun-nking. Ju-ust gre-eat. Wow, what is this new shiny wheel thing, its huge. Wait, don’t leave me in the dark. Take me back to my seat, I have a purpose to wait for. What if I miss it? Please take me back!
How could things get any worse? I have been taken from my seat, stuffed into a weird plastic thing, tossed about in the back of a humungo shiny wheeled thing. As soon as I think I see the light again I am put into another dark thing that smells like paper, and on top of all that it is real noisy outside and I cant tell what’s going on. I miss my seat.
Oh great, what’s happening now? Ah-ah- ah- st-o-p- sha-ke-in-g-me-e-ee. I’m going to be sick. Well at least they stopped. But now there’s light up there and little hands. Who is it? Are they going to return me to where I belong?
Who… who are you? This person is smaller. A little version of the one who took me from my seat. I shouldn’t like it, but I do like its eyes, they sparkle. Why are you picking me up and why is your mouth open? Were you made that way? Ahhhhh my ears why are you making that painful noise. Wait, what? You love me? Really, really, love me. Aghhhhh! Your choking me, but… I like it! This feels nice. All warm and cozy and even fuzzier than my fur. Yes, I do like this! Can I stay for a while?
Is this what I am supposed to do? Am I to take care of this little person? Is that why the big person called “Momma” gave the little girl to me? Is that my purpose? Yes, it has to be. Alright, I’ll do it! From now on you’re My Little Girl and I will be your best friend. You can always count on me. I love you too!
Every day is a new adventure. We learn about good and bad from our story books. One of my favorites is about a little girl with golden hair and three animals just like me, Bears. That’s right I’m a bear. But I am a special kind of bear called a teddy bear. That’s also the name My Girl gave me, “Teddy.” I Have short fluffy fur the color of cream, a soft brown nose and small black eyes. Last week My Girl tied a blue ribbon around my neck with flowers on it. I like it.
My Girl takes me everywhere, except for the places that Momma and Daddy say she cant, like this really weird place called ken-dur-gar-den, whatever that is. She started having to go there a few months ago and Momma and Daddy said that I couldn’t go with her. That didn’t stop My Girl. She’s so smart, she snuck me into her back pack. I wish she hadn’t. The other girls and boys wanted to play with me too. Two really mean boys decided to use me as a tug of war rope. They pulled my arms so hard my shoulder ripped. It hurt a lot, but what hurt more was seeing My Girl cry so hard. I wished really hard to be a real bear so I could scare those boys so bad they would never mess with my girl again! Raawwrr!
When Daddy came to pick us up, My Girl told him what happened. He talked to the teacher and came over and asked if he could look at my arm.
“This looks serious,” he said. “I think he’s going to need surgery. Good thing I know a certified stuffed animal doctor.”
“Who?” sniffled My Girl.
“Why, Grandma of course. Didn’t you know that she can make any stuffed animal feel better? She even fixed my boo-boos when I was a kid. We’re going to see her and Grandpa tonight for dinner and I’m sure she can have teddy feeling better in no time,” said Daddy.
After picking up Momma, we headed over to Granma and Grandpa’s house. Grandma greeted us at the door and gave us a big hug. Grandma is really sweet and always smells like flowers from her garden. Her hair is almost as white and fluffy as mine and she likes to smile a lot. After gently hugging Grandma, so that we wouldn’t hurt her back, we ran over to Grandpa who scooped us up and squeezed us so tight I thought my stuffing would fall out. Grandpa doesn’t have any hair, so Grandma teases him that if he goes outside without a hat he will blind people with his shiny head. Unlike Grandma, Grandpa never smells the same way twice. He loves to cook, so he always smells like food.
After setting us down, he gave Momma and Daddy a hug, but not as big as the one he gave us. Then My Girl took me over to Granma and showed her my shoulder.
“Oh, Poor thing. It must have hurt a lot, but it doesn’t look too bad. I bet I can have Teddy fixed before dinner’s ready,” said Grandma in a voice that made you think that all the problems in the world could be fixed before dinner.
“In the meantime, you want to help me fix dinner?” asked Grandpa who always let my girl help him when he was cooking.
“Yay!” said My Girl “What are we eating?”
In his silly Italian accent, Grandpa replied “Tonight we are having Spaghetti and Meat Balls with Garlic Bread.”
“Ok, step-ge-te… spe- ge-goty… ugh, Grandpa I cant say it,” said my girl, very annoyed.
“That’s ok sweetheart, that’s a tough one.” Momma said (trying not to giggle).
While Grandpa went to the kitchen with My Girl, Grandma took me to her sewing room. She got out her needle and thread and started working on my arm. While she worked she hummed old songs, the same songs Daddy sang when My Girl had a nightmare. As Grandma worked, I got the feeling that one of her favorite things to do was anything that made My Girl happy.
True to her word, my arm was better than new before dinner. My Girl was so happy when she saw me. She gave Grandma a big hug and helped me give her a big hug too.
Dinner was fun! Grandpa told stories of his adventures as a kid and about the restaurant he used to run. Grandma told about when she was a girl too and about Daddy when he was my girl’s age. Daddy’s face turned red as a crayon when Grandma told those stories and everyone laughed. My Girl told about what she was learning in school about the mean boys who ripped my arm. Momma reminded her that she needed to forgive them and Daddy told a story about forgiveness. Before long it was time to go home.
That night, after My Girl was ready for bed, Daddy came in to talk.
“So, Teddy is all better now, right?” said Daddy.
“Yeah, Grandma said his arm is even stronger now” said My Girl happily.
“True, but you weren’t supposed to take Teddy to school in the first place” said Daddy, with a very serious stare.
My Girl didn’t respond. She just looked down at me.
“Sweetheart, the real problem is disobedience. I told you not to take him to school and you did.” said Daddy calmly.
All My Girl could say was “I’m sorry Daddy.”
“I know sweetie, but you still disobeyed me. What should we do about that?” asked Daddy.
My Girl thought hard about it for a minute before replying. After all, choosing your own punishment is a hard thing to do.
“No TV for a week?” My Girl asked sadly.
“That sounds Fair” said Daddy.
A few moments of silence passed before Daddy leaned over and gave My Girl a hug and a kiss. Then Momma came in and gave her a hug and a kiss and tucked her into bed.
“Sweet dreams, dear” said Momma.
Daddy turned out the light and Momma closed the door. Before long My Girl fell fast asleep. While she slept I kept a close eye out for monsters in the closet or under the bed. No monster was going to mess with My Girl while I was around. Keeping watch so my girl can have sweet dreams is one of my biggest, most important jobs.
My Girl has grown a lot. Her arms feel bigger when she holds me; when she does hold me that is. Lately she hasn’t been playing with me as much. I still watch over her at night, but she leaves me on her bed most of the day while she plays with friends outside or with other toys. She seems content to just have me sitting on the bed. Why is that? Is there something wrong with me? My fur isn’t as fluffy as it was, but I’m still soft. When are we going to play house again or have a tea party? Please don’t forget me.
Oh, yay, you remembered me. We can play again. I love you so much. You’re My Girl, even if your not little any more.
This is a nice spot, here on the shelf. My Girl put me up here some time ago. I have been watching her grow. She is starting to get really big now and hasn’t been tucked into bed for a long time. She is now what she and her friends used to call a big kid. Momma says she’ll be a teenager soon.
But then something strange happened while My Girl was doing her homework. Momma suddenly burst into the room.
“Get your shoes and a coat on now, we’ve got to go” said Momma franticly.
“Go? Where? What’s wrong? What’s happened? Momma!” called My Girl, but Momma had already gone to put her own shoes and coat on.
My Girl got herself together and rushed out of the room. Soon after I herd their footsteps exiting the house and the sound of the car leaving the driveway.
Something bad had happened, but what? What could cause calm natured Momma to act so hurried. It was out of character, so it had to be important.
It was just before sunrise when My Girl returned. Something was very wrong. She was in a daze, like she was just going through the motions. She took off her coat and shoes and lay on her bed, back facing the door. I don’t know what made her so sad, but I knew that she should be crying. Yet no tears were falling. Why?
A few days later My Girl put on a dark dress that she hardly ever wore and headed out with Momma and Daddy. Hardly any words were spoken in the house when they came back and I didn’t understand, but the silence seemed right somehow.
For the next few days My Girl seemed lost. She looked like she was thinking hard about something she couldn’t understand. Then, one day, she did something I did not expect. She came in and picked me up off my shelf. She just held me in her hands for a moment before walking over with me to her bed. She sat down and just held me.
Then in barely more than a whisper she simply asked.. “Why?”
Why what? What could be so wrong?
“You had so much more to teach me… I was going to become a cook, just like you” My Girl said softly to the air.
A light streak appeared on her face. One streak followed by another and another.
“Why? Why did you have to leave us? Couldn’t you have stayed? Grandpa why? Why did you have to… why did you have to die?”
What had started as a trickle became a flood. I didn’t know what the word die meant, but it sounded like he was going very far away and never coming back. So this was why My Girl was so sad. What could I do to take away her pain? All I was able to do was hold her close and silently listen to her sobbing. Her tears didn’t stop until she fell asleep. When she woke up in the morning I knew that even though she was still hurting, she would be ok. Momma always said, “Crying helps.”
It’s been years since My Girl last picked me up. My fur is covered with dust, like so many other things in her room. She is as big as Momma and very pretty. She wears makeup and spritzy stuff called perfume that makes her smell like flowers and she does beautiful things with her hair. She is excited because she got accepted to this thing called college and has been packing all summer. It must be important. I hope she doesn’t forget to bring me along to make sure there are no monsters in the closets at college.
How long has it been since anyone came in? Where is My Girl? Why hasn’t she come back to pack me up to go to college too? Did… did she leave me behind? Did she forget about me? No. I cant think like that! I have to stay positive. Oh wait, the door is opening. Way to go positive thinking!
Oh, its only Momma. That’s strange, what is she doing? why is she putting My Girl’s stuff in boxes. Wait what are you doing? Put me down!
“Why, hello there teddy, its been awhile. She sure loved you when she was little. I wonder why she didn’t put you in one of the keep sake boxes. I told her I would get rid of anything that wasn’t in a storage box. Maybe she just doesn’t realize how much she will want to have you around later in life. Young people are always in such a hurry. If they don’t stop to remember what was precious to them in the past, how do they expect to understand why something is precious in the future? Oh, listen to me rambling on like an old woman to an old teddy bear. I better put you somewhere safe. I just know she’s going to need you when she’s older,” said Momma before she gently put me in a box and closed the lid, sealing me into a cramped, dark, space to wait once more for My Little Girl.
I have no sense of time in here. I cannot see the sun rise or set and there are no clocks. The only thing I have are the sounds I can sometimes hear coming from somewhere far away, but they are always muffled and distorted. Occasionally the sounds come from right outside my box and I think My Girl is back to get me out, but no. It’s just Momma or Daddy looking for something that is not me. The last few times I ignored it completely. It is not My Girl so why should I care? I do not know how long I have been inside this box. It feels like it has been a long time.
Someone is outside my box again. I hear the voice of a man I don’t know and a woman who sounds familiar. Someone is opening my box. Oh Ow Ow! The light is bright. Who are you? You look like Momma but you’re not. Those eyes, I know those sparkly eyes. Could you be…? Yes you are! You’re My Girl! Where have you been? Oh I missed you so much. You’re picking me up again, finally! Your hands aren’t small any more.
“Hey honey, what’s that?” asked the strange man.
“It’s my favorite stuffed animal from when I was little” said My Big Girl. “I didn’t realize she kept him. I thought he was thrown out after I went to college.”
“I would have been surprised if she had thrown him out. Your mother was a wise woman. She knew how things like this become more important as we age. I’d bet she put that bear in there for that very reason” said the man.
“You’re probably right… it’s just, even after she’s gone… it’s like she is still taking care of me” said my girl with a sad look on her face.
“I know. We all miss her. Hey remember how she showed me her collection of baby items the first time I came over. What did she call it? Her grandmother’s hope chest” said the man with a smile.
“Of course! I didn’t know that your face could turn that red or that, in some ways, my mom was scarier than my dad” laughed My Girl.
“I don’t think she did that just because you brought me home. I think she knew I was going to marry you long before I did. It’s just like how she knew someday you would wish you still had that bear” he said.
“True,” said My Girl. “You know I think she gave him to me in the first place. Anytime he got torn Grandma would repair him and it was Grandpa who gave me the ribbon for his neck. Dad also used teddy to tell bedtime stories. Most of my memories as a child have teddy in them. Gosh, I took this bear with me everywhere, it amazing he’s in as good condition as he is.”
“That makes him a symbol of your childhood and the love of your family. A symbol like this needs to hold a place of honor and I know just the spot.” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
I now sit on another shelf, but this time I’m not waiting. I sit here because I’m so very precious. She is afraid if I’m played with that I could be damaged. She is probably right. So she put me on a really nice shelf under a beautiful glass container to keep the dust off of me. From here, I can see My Girl and her man coming and going and their children playing. That’s right, My Girl is a Momma now. She’s a good Momma because each of her kids belong to a stuffed animal too. I give these animals advice from time to time, before my girl comes and shoos them and their kids away from the glass. I also keep watch at night to make sure no monsters ever enter any of the kids’ bedrooms. I haven’t seen one yet but that doesn’t stop me. There is never a dull moment, in fact, I’m busier than I’ve ever been. Watching out for a whole family is a lot of work, but I love my job. It means that I get to keep fulfilling my purpose; watching over and always loving My Girl. After all, that is what teddy bears are for.