The Class Bear
I remember when Bunny was a tiny baby, I used to spend her night feeds reading Mumsnet’s forums and laughing at some of the hilarious scrapes some mums got themselves into. One that I remember well was about the class bear – the stuffed toy that primary school classes own, the children taking turns to take it home for a weekend to take photos together and write a diary. Some of the suggestions of activities for the diary were genius and I vowed to remember them when it finally got to be our turn.
At the start of December, Bunny started mentioning Oleg, the class meerkat and how desperate she was to have him over Christmas. As it turned out, he didn’t go home over Christmas, but lo and behold, the end of the first week back and she came out of school swinging a large cotton bag. I knew immediately what it was and was so pleased for her. She started by telling me his clothes were dirty and needed a wash, so I took that as a green light to chuck it in the washing machine the next day.
It turned out, Oleg had a friend, who Bunny was calling a glowworm. And the two of them had been sent home to meet her baby cousin as that was deemed the most exciting weekend activity of those put forward. No pressure then!
First of all, they went to Rainbows with Bunny. Normally, she’s a little reticent about going but this week, she bounced in the door, excited to show off her visitors to the group. And then they went to bed with her and her sister – one each. The Mumsnet discussions about bed bugs crossed my mind, but given that risk or the full blown tantrums that would ensue if I said they couldn’t, I chose the easy option!
Next morning, I turned the bag inside out, stripped Oleg of his clothes and put the whole package into the washing machine, conscious that they were about to be exposed to a newborn baby! Luckily they dried quickly, although the letters did fall off the bag, but some special glue of my dad’s fixed that!
And then the moment we’d all been waiting for – Bunny and Bear finally got to meet their new cousin. Their first cousin in fact. And they were smitten. A magical moment (if weird to see my two seem so big and grown up!).
So that was the big excitement for the class bear sorted. We had photos and Bunny could write the diary. But what about Sunday? Of course, my vow to recreate some of the Mumsnet ideas had all been forgotten by now. We had to do something, so she brought them out with her when we walked the dog along the seafront to meet my family in the pub. Not overly exciting, but at least we were out.
And then… disaster struck. She’d been carrying them both in the crook of her elbow as her hands were too cold to hold them but the quilting of her coat meant she hadn’t noticed that she’d dropped one. It was blustery; glowworm was light as a feather. He’d blown over the edge of the prom. And the tide was coming in quickly. Bunny was screaming and crying, which was making her sister cry. The pressure was on!
I ran down the slope hoping I could get to him but my boots had no grip. I changed into my wife’s trainers and took a different approach from some steps further along. But as I was figuring out the safest way to reach him, the waves started crashing against the wall and I knew it was getting too dangerous to really do anything. So I climbed back up and watched with dismay as the waves eventually swept him away from the ledge he’d fallen on.
But there was still hope. I noticed that the tide was taking it back towards the beach, so we retraced our steps, keeping a close eye on its whereabouts as we went. I hoped that eventually the waves would toss it onto the steps, a slope or the beach itself. And as it reached the first target of some steps, I readied myself to grab it from the water.
It wasn’t going to be that simple though. There just happened to be a narrow inlet between the promenade wall and the steps, and of course, this is where glowworm ended up. I could just about reach him if I went low enough down the steps, but each time he bobbed out again, another wave pushed him back under. And the waves were crashing up the steps, making it impossible to get low enough. We had to give up on the rescue plan.
But one thing about our family is that we don’t give up easily. The tide wasn’t going to be back out until after dark and another high tide was due in the early hours but there was still hope. As the day dawned, I took a stroll along the beach, trying to spot something creamy-coloured and rotund amongst the many rocks and stones that give the beach its name. I reached the other end with no luck, so gingerly returned along the many rock pools, in the hope that it may have been caught by one as the tide went back out. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Literally!
I spotted my dad hunting high and low as I neared my starting point and we both agreed it was a futile exercise. I had to get to work, but he wasn’t willing to give up yet either. Unfortunately, his efforts were wasted as there was no sign.
We had printed out some photos of Glowworm’s ‘adventure’ and Bunny added a brief explanation, painfully aware that the coveted certificate she’d been so excited to get when she returned them safely, was now out of her reach. Much like the stupid toy!
However, all was not lost as a rather lovely lady who I only know through Twitter mentioned that she had one we could have and offered to drop it at my house the following evening. Jo, you really are one in a million! Bunny’s face when she realised she could take the new glowworm in was magical. And made all the effort worthwhile.
But next time a class bear comes home, it stays in it’s bag, in the house, in safety. And I will photoshop the bloody thing into photos. It would seem we trumped any Mumsnet type Class Bear sagas without even trying!