As part of our recent adoption celebrations, we made our first ever trip to Build-a-Bear. It wasn't planned, but we walked past the shop on our way to the restaurant and I had this sudden bright idea of getting customised bears for the two children to commemorate the day.
And while we were there, I managed to commit a mummy-fail of fantastic proportions. In my defence . . . no, I fear there is no defence.
Let me tell you, and you can decide....
So, we'd never been there before and, confronted with a vast array of bears and accessories, I had to resort to asking a staff member what on earth we were supposed to be doing. First: the bear skin. OB, of course, immediately chose the first one his eye lit on. I encouraged him to look at everything, so he chose the second one his eye lit on. I pointed out that the little bear outfits wouldn't fit on that one, so he chose the third one his eye lit on.
Meanwhile, my Mum had picked out a cute doggy for Birdy, because Birdy loves "doddies". I liked it but had my heart set on a traditional teddy. I found a very cute curly-haired one.
Then it was on to the gadgets. Another vast array of choice. Let me just say, I'm not good with choice. I become paralysed by indecision. First was the choice of sound for the bear's paw. At first I thought I wouldn't bother, but they all have this obvious press-pad on their paws - it would be strange to press it and have nothing happen. So, we soldiered on.
OB, having seen the bear I'd chosen for Birdy, had ditched his choice, and selected the same. We listened to loads of the sounds but none of them appealed to me. Especially not the one that said, "I'm your best friend!" in a squeaky voice, and not the "Let It Go" special either. OB decided he wanted a roaring noise, but we couldn't find the right one, so off he went with Grandpa to get one downloaded off the Build-a-Bear computer. After that, I didn't see his bear again until it was finished and a costume selected.
I was also dimly aware that my Mum was getting the doggy for Birdy anyway. I was still struggling to find a sound I liked for Birdy's, but I couldn't leave hers without a sound if OB had one. Then I found the 'record you own message' doodads. Cheesy? I thought so, but it was at this point that I had the sudden realisation that Birdy already has a Build-a-Bear. Her birth mum got it for her over a year ago. She recorded a message on it.
I tried hard to remember what kind of bear it was. Could it possibly be the exact same bear that I had chosen? What were the words of the message? Might I be in danger of recording a similar message? If I recorded a message, would it be as though I was competing with birth mum? If I didn't, would it look like I didn't care as much as birth mum? Was I over-reacting? Most likely, but apparently it's what I do in Build-a-Bear!
In the end, under pressure to just make a decision, I recorded a message, hastily, in a stairwell, with no preparation or forethought, and a deep sense of dread that I'd be listening to it for years to come.
And it wasn't over! No! Then there was the decision about what sort of heart I should put in the bear. On full throttle by now, I went for the beating heart without thinking about it too much. I just wanted all the decision-making to be over!
So, Birdy left the shop with a doggy with a beating heart and woofing noise, and a teddy bear with a beating heart and a message in my very own dulcet tones. OB left the shop with a teddy bear with a roaring noise and a complete Batman outfit, named "Batbear".
If you've managed to make it this far, you've probably spotted several opportunities for disaster. Which do you think was the one that had us back at the Build-a-Bear shop four days later?
Well, no prizes for guessing it was the recorded message.
When we got home, one of the first things I did was run upstairs and get Birdy's first Build-a-Bear down from her memory box. It was a rabbit. Relief.
But it wasn't long before OB noticed that Birdy's bear carried my voice. He played it quite a few times and then said, "I hate that!", before playing it several more times. In fact, he just about wore it out on that first day.
There was no meltdown. There were no angry demands. But I knew. And I thought, how could I have let that happen? How did I possibly manage to give my daughter a bear with a message of love recorded on it, and not my son?
I apologised. We hugged it out. I suggested going back and getting another bear, with my voice on it. He wanted the exact same message as I'd put on Birdy's. When we went back, we found a bear with batman fur. He asked me to call this new bear "Batbear" and change the old bear's name. So we printed out two new birth certificates, both with the birthdate of the original bear, re-named the first one "Superbear", and re-dressed it in a Superman outfit.
It was a little self-deception that we colluded in, but it seemed to do the trick. Batbear and Superbear now have pride of place in the bedtime line up. I often hear my voice emanating weirdly from Batbear's paw when OB thinks I'm not listening. I think we rescued the situation.