€2.49 Teddy Bear

I thought I was done with this stage of life.  I thought I had moved on.  Yet here I am, Valentine’s Weekend, and I’ve bought a silly little heart-themed teddy bear for a girl.

I feel so sheepish, as if I’m some kind of pawn of the greeting card corporations.  As if my love is somehow valid only if accompanied by a 2.49 teddy bear.  I feel like I’ve sold out, and I should be eternally ashamed of myself (not publicizing the fact on the internet!).  But what can I say?  If you would have seen what I saw this morning, I think you would have done the same thing.  You would have realized what a 2.49 teddy bear can mean to a girl.

It all started when I took Elliot and Olivia to school this morning.  Upon entering Elliot’s classroom (together with Olivia), his classmate Marije immediately presented him with a cellophane-paper-wrapped gift of a white teddy bear holding a red heart inscribed with the words, “I love you.”  There was also a hand-written note attached to the gift, which was signed “x x x kusjes (kisses) – Marije.”  When I looked at Marije herself, I noticed that there were tears at the corners of her eyes — so great was her excitement and anticipation tied up in the gift that she presented to my son.  It was simultaneously beautiful and heart-breaking to see how much energy had been tied up in that little teddy bear, which her mother confided had been sitting on her bedroom dresser for three weeks.  Fortunately, Elliot responded well, with a big smile, a “Dank je wel” (Thank you very much), and a warm hug.  Marije beamed, and Marije’s mother gestured as if she was wiping a large quantity of sweat from her forehead in relief.  It was a pretty cute little Valentine’s Day scene.

But then I noticed that the eyes of my own little five-year-old girl were welling up with big, crystalline tears.  Her lip was trembling.  Her face was crestfallen.  ”What’s wrong, Olivia?” I asked her.  ”Why are you so sad?”

“Because I don’t have anybody giving ME a little bear for Valentine’s Day,” she wailed.

Perhaps I should have anticipated such a response.  ”Oh, Livvie-girl, don’t be sad,” I said.  ”We can be happy for Elliot, and maybe you’ll get something else for yourself later.”  It was quickly dawning on me how precious a “silly little heart-themed teddy bear” can be to a five-year-old girl.  I wiped her tears and whispered her words of reassurance.  Elliot agreed that she could carry the little teddy bear that he had just been given down to her classroom before I took it home with me for the day.  So the crisis was averted.  Even so, as I was walking through the halls of the school, holding my little girl’s hand and remembering her tears, I resolved to myself that I would intentionally cave to the “corporate pressures” as soon as possible and ask Olivia to be my Valentine, with some little plush trinket.  Yes, I felt a little bit foolish, standing at the cash register of the Blokker and exchanging my 2.49 for their little heart-themed teddy bear, which I would give to my daughter.  But as I thought about it, I realized that it’s a great privilege that I have — to capture the heart of a little five-year-old girl, who’s still not embarrassed by demonstrations of affection from her father.

Indeed, 2.49 — and its accompanying loss of dignity — is a very small price to pay for such an opportunity.

Valentine's Teddy Bear and Mug

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *