“Your bear needs a car seat”.
With a knowing smile, that’s what one of my partners at work told me, a few days ago. He was talking about the teddy bear in my car.
He claimed his curiosity was piqued when he saw a teddy bear securely strapped with a seatbelt in the back seat of a car, and wondered whose car was it. Then he saw a white lab coat with a name embroidered on it, hanging on the back rest of the front seat. He then learned that it was mine.
I was busted for having a teddy bear in the car!
You probably wondering, why does a grown-up man have a toy bear?
That teddy bear was placed by my wife in my car right after our son was born. We were still in Florida at that time. It was for the purpose that whenever our baby rides in my car, there’s a toy that he can play with to keep him quiet, and also to keep him company in the back seat.
Sure enough, whenever my son and even my daughter whose 5 years older, rode in my car, they played with that teddy bear. It pacified them. It cheered them. It kept them company. My son even gave it a name. He called it “Dr. Teddy.”
That was some time ago.
We have changed home address at least 3 times, moved to Iowa since, and I even replaced my previous car. But that bear remained in the back seat of my car.
And my son? He does not even sit in the back seat anymore. He now sits in the front seat whenever he rides with me.
In the US, the traffic law of most states only allow children to sit in the front seat of a vehicle if they are more than 80 pounds, or more than 5 feet tall, or more than 12 years of age. My son is all of the above now.
My daughter? She herself has been driving for about a year already.
Perhaps I just did not notice how time have gone so fast that that bear was not needed anymore. Or perhaps I was too busy and just did not have the time to remove the teddy bear. Or maybe I just cannot let go of the bear, and the period of time and the memories it represents.
Though I don’t particularly miss tangling with infant carrier, or futzing with car seats, or changing diapers.
For you parents with little children, who probably gets annoyed with the ritual of fastening carriers and car seats, or perhaps are fed up of the duty of changing the dreaded dirty diapers: embrace these rites of passage. For tomorrow, you blink, and they’re gone, except for the memories.
Or maybe, just maybe, that the bear was not really for my kids, but for me. Someone to watch over me, and keep me company when I’m all by myself.
The bear stays.
(*photo taken with an iPhone)