My oldest son asked me to blog about the time he lost his bear

And, like most kids, he thinks he lost the bear he now has. Maybe he thinks I retrieved it for him. I didn’t though. Here’s how it was. He was young, maybe two or three. We were out walking in the neighborhood. I was pushing him in the stroller, nothing cool like they have now. As I remember it was plaid and did have an undercarriage where things could be stored. We were walking up Barton Drive past Northside School. It a reasonable hill and I was moving along, kind of gloating that I could move up the hill at a fair clip pushing a child in a stroller. Never gloat.

The Dog Snatches The Bear

Out of nowhere that I could see, a big German Sheppard comes bolting toward us and snatches the bear (a brown one) that my son was holding. I was stunned. He cried. Should I leave him in the stroller and run after the dog? How could I? I’d never catch the dog and if I somehow did, how was I going to get it out of his mouth? The dog bounded across the schoolyard, bear in his mouth.

My son stopped crying to turn and look at me. I was still standing there trying to process what had happened? Tears were on my son’s face. Oh God! I failed him. I allowed a dog, a dog! to take his bear away. His beloved bear that we got for him when he came, the one that played Braham’s Lullaby. Misery.

We pushed on to home, the green house near the river. I held my son and assured him that somehow we would make this okay. I had no idea how. So, Ken came home from work and the first thing I said was, “We have to replace the bear. He can’t sleep without it. We need to go out now and find the same bear.” Why do we parents think we can do that? We couldn’t replace the bear. There was one toy store in Ann Arbor at that time and they did not have a brown bear that played Braham’s Lullaby.

Our son looked at the bears we offered him and shook his head, no. More misery.

But wait. There WAS a bear that played Braham’s Lullaby. The thing was, it was orange. Whoever heard of an orange bear? But that was the bear he wanted. That’s the bear he took for his. He kept it for years.

And, the weird thing is another dog came on the scene

Sugar, a dog from the humane society that was part German Sheppard, a real love of a dog. But. Sigh. She got hold of the bear and chewed its face. She somehow damaged the music box. What is it about dogs and bears, anyway? Our son was long past carrying bears around but he wasn’t one bit happy about the mess.

I kept the bear. Years and years later, he is a father now, I found a woman who made repairs and sent the bear off to her (Doll Hospital & Toy Soldier Shop, Berkley, MI). She worked hard. She even found Braham’s Lullaby for the music box. We gave it to our son for Christmas. The orange bear sits in his house and I imagine that sometimes he plays the tune for his kids. They do not have a dog.

(A note from Minh: Mom, the bear sits in my home office, on a shelf with so many other stuffed animals that I’ve collected over the years, and like The Velveteen Rabbit, or how Pooh was to Christopher Robbins, “Red Bear” along with the others have all had rich lives and still do come out from time to time when my children need a friend. When I read this, I immediately grabbed Red Bear and took the picture you see in the photo above. He’s still in one piece, but showing obvious scars from his near death experience. Thanks for holding on to him for all those years and restoring him so he could be “real” for my children as well.)