Thursday, January 17, 2013

Op Ed: Share Bears

Since I have a blog, I have this great opportunity to express my opinion about anything I want, even something so ridiculous that you will likely stop reading by the second paragraph.  However, as this has been a constant irritation to me for years with no end in sight (although the end is getting closer), I thought I'd subject you all to my opinion on the subject of....drum roll please...shared stuffed animals.

What is this, you ask?  It is a teddy bear or a puppy or anything cute that goes home with your child who is in a preschool class, a daisy troop or other organized group for young children.  It usually comes in a backpack with a binder and a few accessories, and your child brings it home for a weekend or a week or whatever period of time is appropriate for the organization.

As the "lucky" recipient of the coveted backpack, you get to take pictures with your "friend" and put together a collage and commentary on what you did together and how much fun you had sharing this special time together.  You add your page to the binder when you return the friend and the backpack, and then it goes to the next child.

Don't get me wrong, I am not heartless.  I think it is a sweet idea that could unite a group in a fun way. Nor do I have any heebee geebies about sanitary issues and the sharing of germs between houses.  For goodness sake, I have seven children and a big stinky dog, not to mention the cat and the turtles, so I already live in a menagerie of germs, no matter how often we disinfect.  ( must be true that the more you let your kids play in the dirt the healthier their immune systems become as my kids are rarely sick, thanks be to God.)

However, as soon as I see one of those backpacks coming home with one of my kids, my stress level goes sky high.  Why?  Because I become responsible for keeping that friend out of the dogs mouth, away from the swimming pool, and away from food of all kinds.  I have to keep track of any accessories that came with it and live in a constant state of terror that we are going to lose or break something.  The kids, completely delighted with their special friend, carry it all over the place and I have to trail behind them like the guy behind the elephants at the circus to be sure we don't spoil it for the other kids.  This is no small task and I am constantly on guard the entire time the friend is visiting.

As a bonus, I get to look at all the nice pages other parents did for their children while I frantically snap some photos the last day we have the friend, sometimes making the child change clothes so it appears that we did it all along instead of all at once at the end.  Then I have to caption these photos in a way that makes the whole visit seem like it was a little taste of heaven.

No, I am not a fan of the share bears.  But, I endure what I must for the delight of my children.  Sigh.

(If you are still reading, I commend you and thank you--it feels great to get that off my chest.)


Anonymous said...

Hope the Share Bear brigade reads this column.
What will they think of next?

Stephanie said...

LOVED this! I read the whole thing. ; ) I have never been involved with the share bears (thankfully!), but I have often thought what a bother it must be for the parents to have one more thing to do and be accountable for. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Loved your post. When my son was in first grade I told his teacher that I would not assist in any homework assignments that my son was not capable of doing on his own. I told her that I had successfully completed first grade and did not need to do it again. So when those kinds of assignments came home he had to do it himself or it didn't get done. I saw no point in parental participation. If he needed help with math, etc. we were more than happy to assist.

Yup, his projects were the worst in the class, but he learned to read and write and will graduate from college this year. I encourage all PTA's to approach this subject with the school. Best of luck. You are the best!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, Suz, I HATE them too! My kids, unlike yours, are not big fans either. We routinely sit it in the corner, forget about it until the morning it is due and then produce the worst entry/picture in the "diary" provided. In first grade, Ari surrounded the bear with play army men saying that the bear was being held hostage. So, I took that one picture and we put it in the book saying "the bear was held hostage all weekend and didn't get to enjoy any festivities." It was brilliant. Thankfully, it all ends in first grade here and Kate was the first in her class to get it. We are officially DONE with the bear. Couldn't be happier.

Renee B.

Jen Savard said...

I know the pressure of showing the bear a good time!! When it was Jeff's turn we took it dirt bike riding, to the Monster truck show, and to sushi!! I feel so bad now about the next family that had it and had to follow that awesome weekend!! HEEHEE!!

Bianca said...

I loved reading this and can commiserate with you! I didn't think to have my kids change clothes to look as if it were a different day. I like it! I'll have to keep that in mind for next time!