Marcus has a small stuffed bear that he loves. Actually, he has three. All have come from the same bin of bears at IKEA Department Store. (It’s a great bear—Blund Soft Toy—and it’s just $1.99. IKEA—you can’t beat it with a stick.)
I purchased the first bear many years ago, when I bought one for my niece. I couldn’t pass it up and I was into collecting bears at the time. This initial bear is a light tan, and he used to sit on my bed.
Then I became pregnant. I was so pleased with tan bear that I thought I should get one for baby—it’s soft, has no buttons, has sewn-on features, is very flexible and smushy and easy to hold onto… it’s a perfect bear for a baby. So, I returned to IKEA and found the bin of bears, which were now chestnut brown. In every other way, though, they were exact replicas of tan bear on my bed. So I bought one.
After Marcus was a few months old, he began to attach himself to Brown Bear. Eventually, he slept with Bear, chewed on him, hugged him, played with him… they were inseparable. After carting the bear to a few homes and events, I became concerned: what if we inadvertently left Bear somewhere? What if he fell from the car as we entered or exited and was then tragically squashed by a tire? We needed this bear. It was Marcus’ only lovey. So, the next time I visited IKEA’s neighborhood, I purchased yet another bear; Marcus was still pretty small at the time and he was sitting in his car seat inside the shopping cart, so I simply picked out brown bear #2 and handed it to him; Marcus appreciatively chewed on his face. We paid for the soggy thing, thus purchasing a bit of lost bear insurance.
Fast forward a few months; Todd and I were at IKEA yet again, purchasing an entertainment center with a much-needed door to hide things inside from the kid (this is another topic altogether). On the way to pick up components for the center, we stopped off to get some baby safety products such as additional outlet covers and drawer stoppers. Lo and behold, these safety items were located right behind the bin of bears.
“Let’s see if he notices,” I said, pointing to the bin. Todd nodded and we rolled the shopping cart very slowly and deliberately past the bin. Marcus, seated in the cart, was looking around absently, tired of shopping (we’d been there awhile). He glanced at the bin, and then after a moment, he gazed anew upon it. He even leaned in for a closer look. There they were, scores of Bears, all staring back at him, some upside down or half emerging from under another bear, some embracing each other… Marcus made a barely audible utterance, a sweet sound of recognition, a breathy mix of “ah” and “hey.” He reached for the pile of bears, unable to grasp one but likely snagging a handful of them in his imagination. It was such a dear moment, his sudden focus and delight, his chubby paw reaching out as he leaned toward an entire bin of his small, brown buddies. I had a stupid, fleeting thought that we should buy a whole bunch of them, take them home, put them in a pile and just let him sink into that soft, safe, welcoming lap of many little brown friends… and then common sense returned to me and we hurriedly left the bear aisle before our child could pitch a snit that all his bear pals were staying put while we walked away.
On that day at IKEA, Marcus glimpsed Bear’s whole family. It was pure sweetness.
P.S. Update: I just looked online, and this bear is out of production. As a result, parents are paying ridiculous amounts of money to find replacements on Ebay. If you have one of them? In good condition? Think about selling that thang.