It was worth a shot but it hadn’t worked. We were very mistaken to think that the one she loved could be so easily replaced.
There he lied…on the floor… stubbornly ignored by the toddler who refused to acknowledge him after she threw him there. Was it the fourth or fifth time now?
She stood there, refusing to look at it. Her small body turned away with downcast eyes. She didn’t want to look at us either. She hadn’t thrown a tantrum. She hadn’t cried. Yet her communication was clear. ‘This is not my Teddy.’
For three nights, we had woken up to her heart-breaking sobs and her crying for Teddy. She had lost it somewhere. I had searched everywhere in the house but couldn’t find it. Her real teddy was a tan colour, sort of like pine wood. Most of its fur had been sucked off its nose. His foot had, ‘Baby’s first Teddy’ embroidered on it.
The one lying on the floor was not it. I couldn’t find an exact replica. I found another bear which I thought was at least equally cute. I should have known it wasn’t about cuteness. It was about attachment.
When we found her real Teddy bear about several days later in the church nursery, our daughter’s reaction was a bit strange. She held it but didn’t react. It was as if she had given up hope of ever having it again and now wasn’t sure if he was really there. She didn’t throw it down on the floor but she didn’t smile either. She seemed numb. I realised that my poor sixteen-month old daughter had experienced her first form of emotional stress and shock. She never lost him again.
As for the replacement bear, we later gave him to my son. He was then passed down a few times till my fourth child had him. We moved from the US to the UK with the bear. Then one day, it may have been a birthday or Father’s Day, my daughter gave him to my husband as a gift. This bear is now nearly thirty years old. He has never been truly loved – not in the sense of say, ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ sort of way. I suppose my husband and I have felt the closest to sympathy towards it. Poor rejected bear. I hadn’t realised Jim kept it all these years.
When World Vision said they needed 700 Teddy bears to be placed on the steps of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, Jim donated our sad bear towards it. The 700 bears were used to raise awareness. They symbolise the 700 unaccompanied refugee children that are arriving each week in Uganda after fleeing their homes in South Sudan. The children had been separated from their family. They have witnessed horrible atrocities. Many have seen members of their own family killed. This has left most of the children psychologically traumatised. They arrive in Uganda terrified, hungry and exhausted.
Uganda have been exemplary when it comes to welcoming the refugees. Hundreds of thousands have arrived and have been given sanctuary, compassion and a plot of land. However, aid is still urgently needed to provide basic needs such as food, clean water and medical supplies. Many of the children need psychological therapy for what they have suffered. You can read more about World Vision’s campaign in the UK by clicking here. To learn more about World Vision’s work in South Sudan, click here.
You may wonder what World Vision will be doing with those 700 teddy bears, once their Bears On Stairs campaign is over. The answer is that every teddy bear is going to a child in one of the refugee camps in Uganda. I am so happy to know that our poor rejected bear will finally go somewhere where he is loved. In my heart, I am sending him off with a prayer that he will bring comfort to a child who needs it.