There is a place where Bears are made, with careful attention and loving care. Because these Bears have a special mission: to help children who didn’t have the best start to life.
One day, a new Bear was called and told he had an assignment. He quivered with anticipation as they told him about the three-and-a-half year old boy who’d lived in an orphanage in China his whole life. But this boy’s life was about to change. A couple from America was adopting him.
Bear was sent to the little boy’s new home, and he waited on the bed until it was time to fly to China.
He was nervous. What if the little boy didn’t like him? What if he failed in his mission to give comfort and love?
When they met, the little boy’s new mommy held him tight and gave him Bear. Bear concentrated with all his might, sending out love and care, but the little boy was scared and paid him no mind.
So Bear tried staring into the little boy’s eyes and chanting over and over, I’m here to love you, but this did not impress the boy.
This is hard, Bear thought. How do I get through to him?
The little boy ignored Bear the entire time they were in China. Bear felt discouraged, until he remembered something they’d told him when he was getting his assignment.
This boy hasn’t had much love in his life, they’d said. He spent most of his time in a crib, with no mommy or daddy to hug and kiss him. He needs help attaching to his new family and that’s where you come in. Your job is to help him bond and to feel secure, and to let him know you are always there when he needs you.
So Bear didn’t give up and stuck by the little boy’s side as much as he could.
They flew home, to a house filled with presents, clothes and games and more stuffed animals. And while the little boy still didn’t acknowledge Bear, he always kept him close by, even amidst his new toys.
They went everywhere together. When the little boy fell asleep in the car, Bear was there to watch over him.
And one day, the little boy fed him from his beloved snack cup.
It’s working, Bear thought with happiness. He’s starting to like me!
They played with the new toys and the boy gave him rides on the lawn mower.
He put him in a purse and carried him around.
And finally, the little boy smiled while they played.
From that day on, he smiled and laughed more every day.
Bear couldn’t contain his excitement. I’m helping him. I’m really doing it! He felt proud when the little boy held him at night, but he felt something new too.
He realized he loved the little boy, as much as the little boy was coming to love him. That’s why he was so worried when he found out the boy needed to go to the hospital for a minor procedure.
I have to be with him, Bear thought. He can’t be alone. And to his relief, he was allowed to go, and they waited together to see the doctor.
When it was time to change into a hospital gown, the nursed placed a cap on Bear’s head, just like the doctor’s. Bear held still while the little boy put stickers all over his body.
Still covered in stickers, he stayed faithfully by the little boy’s side while he recovered at home.
Bear no longer thought of this as an assignment. The little boy had become his best friend. He loved him very much and couldn’t imagine life without him.
When the family traveled to Florida to visit the little girl who was in the same orphanage as the little boy, Bear went too. The little boy dressed him in one of their dog’s sweaters because it was cold.
But once in Florida, the sweater came off and Bear got to sunbathe in the Florida sun.
The two became inseparable and did everything together.
From shopping at Target,
to laundry time,
and snuggling with their dogs,
and bedtime routines, they were together.
Through it all, the little boy grew and grew and developed his own personality.
He no longer resembled the scared, tiny child who first came home from China. He had turned into the happiest little boy, who loves his mommy and daddy, and his two dogs and grandparents.
But he never forgot his first friend. Bear had become matted and worn and the little boy wanted to protect his fur. So he thought and thought, and got an idea. He pulled out one of his outgrown shirts and put it on his best friend, declaring him ready for new adventures.
The little boy took Bear for fast rides in his car, although he made sure he never fell out.
They went to Sesame Place with the little boy’s cousin because they wanted to meet Elmo.
And they went to the beach, although the little boy’s parents had no idea he’d brought his best friend along until he pulled him out of his backpack and said, Ta-da!
Bear even got his very own beach chair, complete with a tropical drink. Life doesn’t get better than this.
The little boy laughed with glee and said to his mommy, “Happy, happy!”
Every night, the two best friends lie side by side. No matter what new adventure awaits, no matter who else comes into the little boy’s life, Bear will always be his first friend. And that is very special indeed.