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Big Guy works through it with Bear

Submitted by on Monday, 29 September 2008 No Comment
Bear and El, in a rare family portrait

Bear and El, in a rare family portrait

I knew Bear was more than a plaything the day we forgot him and 1-year-old Big Guy was forced to navigate day care alone.

He cried when I left him without Bear. He was upset at nap time, but finally settled for snuggling his blanket.

When we got home, Big Guy found the truant lying in the living-room floor. He hugged Bear tight, caressed his cheek and then slammed him to the floor. Repeatedly. “”Bad bear!”" he scolded.

And so it’s been with them for most of Big Guy’s life. He reached the point in November when he no longer needed to take his lovey everywhere — he really had no choice after Little Guy’s El was banned from preschool for causing riots — and I thought the time was near for Bear to hibernate in my closet.

Lately, though, their relationship has re-intensified as Big Guy battles against the steady stream of chaos in his life. It makes me glad I never tried to force them apart. I vow now that I never will.

It’s funny when the patterns you saw when they were babies resurface when they’re older.

The past few days, Big Guy hasn’t wanted to eat much but he’s chugged the milk — he did the same thing as he approached his first birthday.

He took Bear along for the walk to school this morning. He didn’t want to cuddle him, but was content to stash him in the stroller bin. Knowing he was around was enough.

This afternoon, he gnawed on Bear’s hands — he substituted the paws for a teeth ring when he was a baby, and the comfort habit carried over.

It was only when we sat down to do homework this evening that the reasons became clear.

Big Guy was working on a pre-math booklet that involved identifying patterns and differentiating between left and right. Bear sat with us. Big Guy deftly handled the identification part. But when it came time to color his own pattern, he handed Bear the crayon. Poor Bear couldn’t keep in the lines.

“”Silly Bear! You goofed up again!”" Big Guy scolded kindly.

“”That’s OK,”" I said. “”We all goof up sometimes.”"

“”But he just can’t get it right,”" Big Guy said.

“”Happens to everyone. People learn things at different times. I bet Bear’s really good at other things, like the ‘I See’ book,”" I said, referring to Big Guy’s “”reading”" assignment for the week.

“”Yeah. I guess so.”"

“”So all Bear has to do is keep coloring, and he’ll get better.”"

In that span of a few minutes, I realized how hard kindergarten has been for Big Guy. Not that he doesn’t love it — he’s dying to see his new friends every morning, he’d give up candy before he’d disappoint his teacher and he’s so jazzed about learning to read that I’m thanking my lucky stars.

But he is a perfectionist by nature. Has nothing to do with nurture — I’ve tried everything I can to curb those tendencies, having danced with those same demons my entire life.

I’ve been too wrapped up in my own drama lately to clue in, and he doesn’t know how to express it. Good thing we have a mediator in residence.

Thank you, Bear. Feel free to stick around as long as you want.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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