By Jason Menard
It was a bitterly cold winter’s day in the city formerly known as Hull. The skies were clear, which made the cold outside bite a little harder. And as the car crested the small hill, off in the distance, we could begin to make out a shape. Blood red, arms and legs askew, alone in the parking lot. I gasped, my wife uttered the words, “I don’t believe it.” And in the back seat, my five-year-old daughter wailed.
Yes, Reddy Bear had been found. Now it was time to assess the damage.
But before we get to that, let’s provide a little back story. Reddy Bear is, in fact, a small red teddy bear, about the size of an adult’s hand, which was purchased many moons ago from some Roots store somewhere. Given to my daughter for her first Valentine’s Day back in 2002, the bear has become a fast friend to my daughter, and, by extension, a member of our family.
Odd? Not if you’re a parent. Many of us have children who have something in their lives that brings them a special comfort. Some children have a special blanket, others have imaginary friends, and many more have stuffed animals. And the thought of losing them is equally hard on both the child and the child’s parent.
Reddy Bear has undergone a number of changes over the years. When my daughter was old enough to talk, we discovered that Reddy was a boy. He was also her friend, Reddy. Later, as my daughter entered into the “playing mommy” stage, Reddy apparently made a side trip to Sweden, because she was now a girl (we still, sometimes, refer to Reddy as ‘he’) and had transformed into my daughter’s daughter.
After getting past the initial shock of being grandparents in our early 30s, my wife and I acquiesced to the fact that Reddy was special. Simply put, my daughter and Reddy play together, share confidences, and comfort each other in times of need. With that in mind, the question was now how do we make sure we don’t lose her?
It’s every parent’s fear. As much as our children love these creature comforts, they are still children and can, at times, be less than vigilant about taking care of their toys. This was doubly a concern when it became apparent that Reddy Bear was a significant part of our daughter’s sleeping routine. The thought of a night without Reddy conjured up the image of a tear-streaked face and the feeling of loss.
As silly as it appears – after all, it’s just a bear – parents will understand that their children’s attachment to these stuffed animals, special toys, blankets, etc. is very real and very deep. As easy as it is to say, ‘it’s not real’, it’s hard to deny the very real heartbreak that you can see in their faces when something this special goes missing. While my daughter will go a couple of nights without Reddy in bed – sometimes taking another stuffed animal in its stead – there truly is nothing like the real thing. Literally. Nothing. In fact, we have another identical Roots bear. Purchased at roughly the same time – except white. And while Snowbear is fun and all, he’s not Reddy.
We even contacted Roots stores throughout Canada, through the assistance of the company’s helpful – and indulgent – staff, looking for other red bears to buy as back-ups. And when that route failed to pay off, there have been repeated eBay searches – again, all in vain. So with no replacement, we’ve got to make this one last.
It’s not like we haven’t had close calls in the past. There was a trip from Montreal to London where, while getting something out of the trunk, Reddy almost made an unexpected stop in Kingston. There was also the trip to the mall, where Reddy found herself perched atop a garbage can as some kind stranger picked her off the floor and left her to be discovered.
But Hull was almost the end. Apparently, while getting my daughter situated in the car – not an easy task considering snowsuits and car seats – Reddy fell out into a grocery store parking lot. As my wife and I debated about whether Reddy had even made this trip (as opposed to staying in the luggage where we were) Reddy was left to fend for herself. Three hours later, en route to a New Year’s Eve dinner, we decided to take that fateful detour. And, miraculously to us, there she was, alone in the parking lot.
In the end, she appeared to have not been run over by passing cars. She was not taken or discarded. A little hand washing and a few tumbles in the dryer (not to mention repeated apologies by my daughter to her bear) Reddy was back as good as new. Eventually my daughter told us that Reddy had left the car to have lunch with a friend and was merely waiting for us – although she didn’t like waiting in the cold.
Another crisis was averted. However, let’s just say the grandparents are going to be even more vigilant – if that’s possible – about their furry, red granddaughter’s whereabouts from now on!
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