Monday, 14 November 2011

The best of friends, right to the end?

Teddy bears are funny things. What is it about them that children love so much? What is it that attracts children to one particular bear - one they may not have paid much attention to before - and makes them love that teddy with all their heart?

And what do you do when that teddy is so loved and so cuddled, that it's in danger of falling apart? This is my dilemma.

Sophia is in love; madly, deeply in love. His name is Barney and he's her cuddly, brown teddy bear. They're best friends and go everywhere together.

I can't quite remember when they came to be so close. Barney arrived in our family during Sophia's very first Christmas. He was a gift from her Great-Grandmother, my Nan. 

At the time, Sophia seemed to regard him with some slight interest but not much more. Yes, she'd give him the odd cuddle, but it wasn't anything significant. But, gradually, it grew into something very special.

By the next April, he had become her best friend and she cared for him like no other could. Sophia had eyes for no other teddy (and she's got quite a few!) and she started to carry him everywhere and do everything with him.

It did - and still does - melt my heart to see how loving and tender she is with him.

When Barney joined our family, he was a plush, plump bear. But, over time and after a few cycles in the washing machine, he's no longer the teddy he used to be. His legs have lost their padding, his neck has become thin and stretched and one of his ears has become just ever so slightly loose.

But Sophia loves him. So much. Other teddies have come and gone but Barney is her favourite; her special bear.

Sophia and Barney have shared all her highs and lows. He's been there to comfort her whenever she fell ill, has always been ready to look after Sophia when she needed a hug, he welcomed Dexter into the family and became Sophia's 'little baby' to help her adjust to life with a brother.

He even takes part when she wants to play 'dress up'...

But now Barney's getting on a bit and I'm worried about what will happen when his stitching starts to come apart, or he starts getting bald patches. Or even worse, one of his limbs falls off while Sophia is playing with him.

It is a real possibility. Sophia loves playing with him but her games are becoming more energetic. She'll spin him around by his legs, grab and squeeze him around the neck, throw him against the kitchen cupboards and living room coffee table. She will always give him a big hug afterwards though.

I'm dreading the inevitable heartbreak that will come if and when Barney can't survive any more of Sophia's games. There is something very special about the bond that Sophia has with her teddy and I would hate to see her so upset. Plus, as silly as it sounds, Barney has become one of the family. He goes everywhere with us, is in all our photos and we even talk about him. If anything ever happened to Barney, it would be like losing a family pet.

What also makes him extra special (well, to me anyway) is that he was bought for her by my Grandparents. They are both in their mid-eighties and live a couple of hundred miles or so away, so I love the fact that Sophia has chosen their teddy bear to love so much. I know my Grandparents are overjoyed by it and, in a way, feel a little bit closer to her because of the connection she has with Barney.

I'm hoping that she'll grow out of this phase before anything bad can happen. That way, I can pop Barney into her 'memory box'. Then, when she's older, she'll come across him, give him a hug and listen to the mountain of stories I have about how she used to love him and the games they would play together.

But in the meantime, I'm brushing up on my sewing skills, buying in some soft padding and brown fur and hoping beyond hope that I'll never have to use them. Not on Barney.


  1. oh that's lovely. We have a very special teddy in this house too and he is very worn and raggedy - but my worse fear is losing him. If he is allowed to go out he is only allowed as far as the car but not out of the car ( we have had too many near misses). We do have a second teddy that was identical to teddy but he looks nothing like original teddy now due to wear and tear!! My oldest also has a favourite rabbit ( rabby) who is also an essential part of life but he has never been played with like teddy is but they are both much loved and on the verge of falling apart!

  2. oh by the way I've tagged you in the 10 things meme ( I think it's a meme not a linky!!)

  3. We did some foward planning and the moment he seemed to become attached to bunny, we got another one. They get interchanged every so often to keep them the same. Don't tell him though!
    I suppose its too late for you now. I think like a good wine, rabby just gets better and better with age!

  4. I don't think we ever grow out of loving a teddy bear. I have a rabbit that my auntie bought me when I was 5, which now makes her 37 and she would be the only item I would take with me in an emergency.

    CJ xx


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