When I was nine years old, shortly before Christmas, my mom took me to Palais Royal. This wasn’t an unusual or special event; this was just a normal shopping trip. On display were a bunch of teddy bears called the P.R. Bear. They were white and cuddly and wearing green and red winter accessories. I had to have one. So my mom bought one for me. I thought P.R. was a stupid name for a bear, so I named him P.J.
Unlike many childhood toys that have come and gone, P.J. (sans clothes) stayed throughout elementary, middle and high school. P.J. went to college with me. Eventually he went to law school with me. My last year of law school, P.J. even had a best friend. My roommate had a number of bears of his own, and P.J.’s “best friend” was my roommate’s teddy bear. I actually have a picture on my wall of my roommate, P.J., Mr. Giggles a*k*a Giggie, and me. And, yes, throughout all these years, I slept with P.J. cuddled up to me.
As you can imagine a bear who’s been around – and used – for more than 20 years would be, P.J.’s had a little wear and tear. At some point, P.J. ended up on the top shelf of one of our rarely used closets. One day I went into that closet to find winter clothes, and my daughter discovered P.J. She had to have him. So I let her hold him.
My husband wasn’t entirely thrilled about the idea. As I mentioned, P.J. has had some wear and tear. Instead of white, he was grey. And not a good grey either. Pop Culture Dad kept imploring me to throw him away, but I just refused, because I’ve had this bear for 24 years. He didn’t have much to worry about, Pop Culture Toddler quickly forgot about P.J. like she does most toys, and P.J. went back in the closet.
For some reason, this weekend I decided it was finally time for P.J. to have a bath. I was washing my daughter’s current lovey, Elmo, anyway, so it seemed like a good idea. I just prayed that Elmo didn’t turn P.J. pink. My husband was the one who took the laundry out of the dryer this weekend, so I forgot about P.J. (and everything else in the laundry) altogether. Until Tuesday night…
Pop Culture Toddler was running through the hallway and noticed the laundry basket [don’t judge!]. All of the sudden, I hear a squeal, “P.J.!!!!!!!!!!!”. I honestly didn’t know she still knew his name. Not only did she remember P.J.’s name, she remembered him. PCT pointed at P.J. and said “Mommy’s bear.” Then she picked him up, squeezed him, and said her favorite word these days, “Mine.” Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up my bear, even though it’s been a few years (okay, couple) since he’s been my sleeping companion. But sometimes being a mommy means you have to make the hard choices, so I let PCT keep him.
Last night, she insisted that P.J. sit with us for her bedtime story, an honor previously bestowed on Abby and Elmo. This morning, I found Abby and Elmo on the floor next to the bed, while P.J. slept soundly next to my baby girl. Even then, I thought it would be a fad. Tonight, I asked PCT if she wanted to grab Abby and Elmo for a bedtime story, and she grabbed P.J. instead. She clung to him even after she fell asleep.
Maybe Pop Culture Toddler will be bored with P.J. a week from now. Or maybe she’ll follow my lead and take him off to college with her. Only time will tell. I will say, though, that I never thought you could consider a single teddy bear a family tradition, but now I’m wondering…