First Toys: The Teddy Bear
November 2, 2011
I still have Gloria, in case you were wondering.
She was my first teddy bear, and, in a deeply subjective way, I love her. In a more objective way, I kind of wish she were different and not named Gloria. (If your name is Gloria, please don’t be offended: it’s just not my style, but I still like you personally.) Gloria is a very ’70’s bear and still sports the red jumper with the straps made of zig zag and the jaunty front pocket (also trimmed with zig zag) that I made for her when I was ten. In her way, she is a style icon. Like Halston. Sort of.
Getting Astrid the best possible teddy bear was another one of the things I snagged on while I was pregnant. And by “best” I meant “classic,” I guess. A bear for the ages. A bear that would not scream, “I was born in the decade that misguidedly produced the polyester bell bottom,” and would not undermine my little daughter’s future ability to claim her 29th birthday multiple times or her reincarnation from the 1850s or whatever her deal might be when she’s older.
I went hunting. I looked online. I looked in stores. At nine months pregnant, I made the trek across Manhattan to peruse the Steiff department at FAO Schwarz. Nothing, I tell you, NOTHING. All the Steiff bears looked like they would as soon stab you as get a hug, and, after the German bears, all the other floppy bears looked like they had loose morals. I was stumped. Where were all the friendly classic bears?
This was fine because Astrid has only very recently (at 18 months old) taken any significant interest in dolls and stuffed animals. So if you too are stressing about this (or any other specific classic toy choice), relax: you have time.
I am delighted to tell you that despite my fruitless search, Astrid now has the bear I was looking for: not long after she was born, my stepgrandparents sent Astrid a bear in a blue sweater. The bear is the right size (a little oversized), and has a friendly face, soft fuzzy fur, moveable arms and legs, good posture, and a gentle manner what will hopefully comfort her at night in a way that will prevent her from dating drug dealers in the future.
I don’t know if the bear is male or female or what we will name him/her. I’m trying to decide if it would be better for us to christen it something interesting and timeless on Astrid’s behalf or wait until she can do it herself, in which case s/he will probably end up being called “Fluffy” or “Bear,” which is also timeless but in a different way than I was thinking. So now, after all that searching, we’re good to go. Excellent.
Our bear is from the Smithsonian and is rightly called The Smithsonian Bear, available for $25 (sweater not included – that was made by said stepgrandmother)