When Youngest Child was born, my husband’s boss sent us a gift basket filled with baby treats. In among the baby rattles, blue onesies and teethers was a fluffy, brown eyed, soft-mouthed teddy bear not much bigger than the baby himself.
Oldest Child, who was 26 months old at the time, and being as gracious as a 26 month old can be when he realizes that he now has to share his parents attention and affection with a mewling infant brother, took one look at the teddy bear and pronounced that it was his.
“I’m sorry, honey” we said. “That’s your brother’s bear. It was meant for him”.
“No. MY bear! I want the bear.”
Back and forth we went. We tried to convince him that the bear wasn’t meant to be his. He did his best to convince us that the bear was the most precious thing he’d ever seen. I thought I might have heard him do his best Gollum impression as he intoned, “Bear. Bear! BEAAAARRR!” over and over.
We relented. We gave him the bear. Becoming a big brother was a big deal, and he was doing his level best to be a good big brother. He wasn’t being overtly jealous, or agressive. He just wanted the bear. That bear, soon named Carlick, for reasons we’ve never understood, became Eldest Child’s closest companion: the stuffy that went everywhere, that was cuddled at night and fetched whenever he had a boo-boo. And how could it hurt, we thought, if we gave him the bear? He wanted it so badly, and really: Youngest Child will never know it was originally his, anyway.
Youngest Child would never know.
I’m not sure who told Youngest Child that Carlick was originally his. All I know is that to this day, Youngest Child remains mightily put out by the idea that his mother and father would take HIS bear and give it to his brother. Every now and then, Carlick is bear-napped from his spot on Eldest Child’s bed, and held ransom in retailiation for some real or imagined slight by Eldest Child against Youngest Child. Occasionally, there are tears. Numerous replacement bears have been acquired for Youngest Child, and he has his own favourite, Paddington, with whom he cuddles at night (occasionally: interestingly, he’s not a big stuffed animal fan, anyway). All I can do is hope that one day he might see things from our perspective, as we were just trying to placate our first-born who really wanted that darn bear, nothing else.
It was love at first sight for Eldest Child, and I don’t know that I would do anything differently except this: next time, we’d keep our mouths shut!