At some point in their early life, children often fix on one special toy that becomes their favourite. You know the one I mean: it’s the one you have to drive back 100 miles for when you’ve left it in a shop on holiday and the one you have to buy spares of because your child won’t relinquish their friend for a vital and long overdue ride in the washing machine.
After some false starts where we thought he had found his special toy (was it going to be Alfred the Duck? Was it going to be Slobodon, the great and slimy rabbit dictator? (don’t ask)), the true winner of the popularity contest emerged: it was Teddy. Teddy had shared the Toddler’s bed since birth. He was his first present from his Gran, and after initially not being terribly interested in this quite simple white and blue bear, suddenly Teddy and he were inseparable.
Thankfully, the Toddler quickly latched on to the idea that Teddy must stay away from food, the bath and the ground outside. With great care he will put his friend at a safe distance at dinner time, saying: “Teddy vies” [Teddy dirty]. At bath time, Teddy sits on the window sill where he has a good view of all the fun, and if there is any danger of mud outside, Teddy stays home.
Just recently, Teddy has started to develop a mind of his own. First we overheard lively conversations going on between Teddy and the other toys at nap time. Sadly we couldn’t make out what wisdom the bear was bestowing on them, but I am sure that whatever he was saying was very profound. Then Teddy started having good ideas on the Toddler’s behalf, or “good-a”, as he calls them. Teddy and the toddler would appear in the kitchen:
“Milk!” Teddy would suggest in a squeaky voice.
“Milk? Ok, good-a, Teddy!” the Toddler would concur with great glee.
It wasn’t his idea. It was Teddy’s. Teddy also likes watching TV and having seconds of the Toddler’s favourite meals.
Today, Teddy was nodding. I know it is not quite as clever as the talking, but somehow it really tickled me. I woke the Toddler from his nap and found him not so pleased about being awake – he was not speaking, just whining quietly, ready to burst into floods of tears should I make a wrong move. So I thought the safest thing to do was to deal with Teddy instead, kind of like a UN peace keeper. I carried them both downstairs, boy and bear, into the kitchen. There I asked Teddy if he might be in the mood for some pasta with cheese. Teddy nodded. We got the pasta ready and the whining slowly subsided. I asked Teddy if he’d had a nice sleep. Teddy nodded again. The mood lifted and soon boy and bear were sitting up at the dining table, one with a bowl of pasta and the other with a tiny Tupperware bowl of grated cheese in front of him.
“Teddy?” the Toddler asked his bear in his very high, talking-to-small-things voice. “Meer kaas, Teddy?” [more cheese, Teddy?]
Teddy nodded. I gave him more cheese. How can you resist a nodding bear?