When I was invited to bring the girls to a Build a Bear Workshop to make our very own bears I knew I was about to become a Very Popular Mummy.
I’ve written before about the difficulties of having two kids with a seven-year age gap, and how hard it is to find things for us all to do that don’t bore Belle to death or make Bee’s face screw up with a look of revulsion. Well, I think I can safely say that Build a Bear is the one thing, possibly with the exception of dumping them both at Claire’s Accessories and saying ‘here’s twenty quid each’, that they can both enjoy in equal measure.
The idea is simple – you get to choose your teddy ‘carcass’ if you will, stuff it with fluff, add a heart or a sound, and dress it up in the latest teddy fashions. Simples! You also get to print out your very own teddy birth certificate and take it all home in a lovely box.
I made the mistake of telling Belle a few days before we went, and she barely slept she was so excited. She even designed her own survey, and canvassed family and friends for possible teddy names. Marshmallow came out top, so obviously she called the teddy Custard.
By the time we got to the shop, Belle was practically wetting herself with excitement. In her state of extreme joy she apparently lost the ability to speak, resorting instead to bouncing up and down on the spot and panting like a dog whenever the Shop Manager, Jayne, asked her a question.
Bee was equally excited, but conducted herself with far more understated teenage cool than Belle could muster. I looked at her phone in her hand and raised my eyebrows in that way I’ve seen other parents do, which I think means ‘can’t you put that fecking thing away for five minutes and talk out loud like a normal person?’
“What?” she said. “I’m putting on facebook that I’m building a bear. Everyone is well jealous.”
Jayne stopped short of asking Bee to do 14 star jumps on the spot while her bear was stuffed (one for each year of her age), but she did get her to kiss the teddy’s heart before it went in, and rub it on her nose, eyes, and ears, to help the teddy smell, see and hear.
By the time they had each completed their bear (actually a rabbit for Belle and an owl named Francis for Bee), and I had succumbed to stopping at Burger King for tea, Bee was ready to declare it ‘the best day ever’. High praise indeed from the girl who referred to Camp Bestival last year as ‘like a small church fete’.
Here is Belle with Custard. Bee and Francis preferred to shy away from the limelight.
Thank you Build a Bear for our lovely teddies and the ‘best day ever’!