RIP, Minty Bear

Tuesday 17 July 2007This is nearly 16 years old. Be careful.

Finslippy has a nice post about a bittersweet situation all parents go through at one time or another: RIP, Minty Bear.

I have three boys, and three similar stories to tell. Floppy Bunny was lost, then found (dismembered in the street), replaced by Funny Bunny. Blue Blankie had a better life: it was left in a vacation hotel once but was found and returned by the proprietor, and is still with us, though long outgrown.

Superman, a Burger King toy, was misplaced on a sandy beach, and the family had a harder time with the loss than the child did. A identical replacement (thank you, eBay!) was deemed uninteresting, and he moved on. Now after years of loyal service, Blue Beary has just been moved to a shelf.

Each of these love objects held a special place in our boys’ and our hearts. Dealing with their loss, whether temporary or permanent, accidental or developmental, was a moving experience. Either the boy suffers (as Minty Bear’s Henry did), or simply grows up and wanders away. Moving books have been written about just such attachments (The Velveteen Rabbit was a staple in our house for a long time), but they don’t capture just what it means to your own child.


When my mother decided it was time for one of us kids to "outgrow" a beloved stuffed animal, she would announce that it needed mending, and off it would go to the mending basket: a real laundry basket, full of items in need of mending, stored cleverly out of sight. Mom would fend off the nonstop queries and complaints about the missing piece of floppy fluff until finally the kid would move on, as intended.

One Christmas about 20 years ago, Mom was fiddling around in the basement and found the mending basket, containing my brother's long-lost Bunny. At my instigation, we wrapped Bunny up and presented the package to dear brother on Christmas morning. The expression on his face was priceless: sheer, dumbstruck confusion, touched with a hint of tenderness. Needless to say, Mom promptly took it back on the grounds that it still had to be mended.

Incidentally, by the time it got to me (4th out of 5 kids) Mom learned to foist cloth diapers off on us instead of stuffed toys. This was an improvement because diapers can be swapped and washed. When the time came for the diaper to go the way of the bunnies and bears, I didn't have the sense to suggest that a different diaper could substitute, so apparently it never registered to me that there was more than one diaper.

I don't think the diaper ever had a name, but who knows. I couldn't do tricks with it like Linus did with his blanket, either.

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