I, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, really needed to get something off of my chest. Something that had been bugging me for a while. I needed to sit down and talk to my partner, like proper grown ups, and discuss the elephant in the room.
At Christmas, my daughter Jasmine received a gift from her Auntie and Uncle. It was her first Christmas and we knew she was going to end up being a tad spoilt by friends and family. And she was – she received beautiful clothes, stacking blocks, an interactive shape sorter, books… the list goes on.
But this particular gift from her Auntie and Uncle? …It’s totally f**king useless.
It doesn’t serve a purpose.
It won’t help Jasmine perfect her hand-eye coordination.
It doesn’t play music (small mercies).
Jasmine won’t take it to bed every night to snuggle up with it.
It does nothing.
Because this particular gift… was a 3ft tall brown teddy bear.
I’m sure, as I unwrapped it helped Jasmine unwrap it, I was unable to mask the look of sheer horror on my face. The look that said “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?!”.
I tried to think what it was we could have done to deserve this. Had we annoyed them in some way?
We live in a small house, every square foot is precious.
Why would our own family do this to us?
No, I was being silly. Their intentions were good, they just got a bit carried away.
They weren’t thinking straight.
So why couldn’t I get the image of them chinking wine glasses and throwing back their heads laughing at us. “We got them good!” they would snigger. “A giant bear… Muhahahahaha!!”
I know, I know – I’m being silly.
Of course, I made a big mistake that morning. A very big mistake indeed.
I gave that bear a name.
What is it with my compulsion to name everything?
Because now, now there’s no way on earth I could ever get rid of Jeffrey.
That’s right. I named that giant, useless teddy bear, Jeffrey.
Why was it a mistake? Well, you try taking “Jeffrey” to the charity shop.
You try eBaying “Jeffrey”.
And you just try and sell “Jeffery” on your local Facebook selling page.
Because I can’t!
I gave him a name and now I can never get rid of him.
(Besides, I don’t think I could pay someone to have him even if I wanted to, because as we’ve already established, he is genuinely a giant. waste. of. space.)
For over months he’s has taken up residence in our bedroom because Jasmine’s nursery is tiny. (Auntie and Uncle knew this!) So I curse Jeffery every time I try to open my wardrobe because his big, fat fuzzy head is always in the way. And then he looks at me with his big brown eyes and I feel guilty for snapping at him… and then we secretly hug it out. (It turns out he’s pretty hug-able).
One dinner time I finally had the courage to bring up the subject with Stephen (who’s brother and sister-in-law were the ones who oh so kindly gifted us the bear in the first place).
“What should we do about Jeffery?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, he’s kinda big, don’t you think….”
“Yeah, he’s just like the one I bought for them when N was born!”
And there it was. Suddenly it all made sense. Jeffery was a revenge bear.
Stephen was the one who, all those years ago after becoming an uncle for the first time, got carried away. Whose intentions were good. Who didn’t think straight. He went out and bought a giant useless f**king bear. And now we’re paying the consequences!
But, now when I look at Jeffery, I think about Stephen rushing out to buy a bear, just like him. Carrying him under his arm at the hospital, to go and meet his nephew for the first time. And Jeffery is no longer useless… because he (and what he stands for) makes me smile.
And as for me? I feel so much better for having talked about the elephant in the room… that’s actually a bear.