Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Beauty of Blue Bear

Jacob's Blue Bear
He is no longer blue, has not been for nearly as long as I can remember. He once was, there is even the photographic evidence of it.

Jake with Blue Bear (actually blue) at 5 months
Bedraggled yet beloved, he no longer resembles a bear, having lost most of his facial features to the ravages of time and Jacob’s strong teeth and saliva in the time when he sucked and chewed on everything in sight, those many early years of mouthing for sensory input.

But “Blue Bear” he was dubbed and “Blue Bear” he remains, even though “Gray Rat” would be a more apt description of his appearance these days.

Jacob chose him as an infant, out of the many stuffed animals gifted to the boys when they were born.  And from about the age of six months on, they were inseparable.

Jake was the easy to put to bed twin, right from the start.  Once they found each other, as long as Blue bear was in his hands, all was right with the world and off into dreamland they marched together. 

Ethan, on the other hand was not a stuffed animal baby, not a lovey lover.  When he had to have ear tubes put in at 18 months, we were told to have him bring along a special toy for comfort, and he chose his then current favorite: a hard plastic toy tomato from his play food basket.  The doctor’s office staff was quite amused by this, having never seen a child soothed by a toy vegetable before.

Ethan eventually succumbed to the charms of a stuffed brown monkey, and then moved on to a whole family of dragons, eventually hosting a parade of Pokemon and pufflesin his bed.

Ethan and (stuffed) friends, age five
But for Jacob, it is now and forever, always Blue Bear.

When Jacob’s chewing and mouthing was especially fierce, from about 18 months to age three (at which time Jake’s sensory issues were decidedly ameliorated by a course of Tomatis) Blue Bear was a favorite object for this, too.

He was always in Jake's mouth, never dry.  Which led to his nickname among family members and in-home therapists: “Stinky Blue Bear.”  We don’t have a washing machine in the apartment, have to use the laundry room in the basement, only available certain hours, which meant opportunities to sneak the soggy bear out of Jake’s hands and into the wash were quite limited.

So Blue Bear got washed about once a week, twice if we were lucky and very wily.  He smelled… a lot... like wet dog, like old saliva and a little mildewed to boot.  But he survived, we survived, and Blue Bear is still the guest of honor at any table Jake sits.

Over these many years Blue Bear has been Mom-repaired too many times to count. His arms lie flat, their former filling having leaked out slowly, one tiny bead at a time.  His head has been reattached, a bit awry. His stuffing re-stuffed at least thrice.

He has one original plastic eye, the other rendered in black thread, hastily stitched into an imperfect circle that was nonetheless accepted, his owner anxiously watching the process, worried over his one-eyed bear, happily now made whole.

To an outsider's eye, Blue Bear is an ugly old thing, over-washed and worn out, warped from his original shape to near unrecognizability. 

But of course to us, we see neither the chewed upon ears nor the grayed matted fur.

We see only the love that has been poured into him for eight years, the comfort given, the tears snuffled out with head burrowed into his soft, giving, forgiving belly.

We see only the beauty of Blue Bear.

This post was inspired by the Red Writing Hood assignment to write a short piece about something ugly - and find the beauty in it.

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