Posted by: DD | September 25, 2007

no. 530 – The Good Memories Must Outweigh The Bad

Several months ago XBoy asked if he could go to Build-A-Bear. I told him "maybe", the most hated words in all parenting history, and then changed the subject.

It seemed so cheesy and baby-ish to allow my son to get a stuffed animal. He’s 5. And a half.

Not too long ago, I passed the store while in The Metro and saw a bunch of kids in there, most were preschoolers. Parents looked exasperated but had smiles on their faces and were always nodding, as if they suddenly acquired the bobble-head anatomy.

XBoy is growing up way too fast for my taste. He wants to go to the arcade in the mall. He throws a fit when he has come into the bathroom with me when we go on errands. He wants those damn suicidal Heelies because they are "cool".

The teenager is strong with this one…

I realized that if I didn’t take a day and do this with him soon, the urge would pass and the opportunity would be lost, possibly forever in there ever being a custom built bear in our home. So a couple weekends ago, Mr. DD scheduled some home projects and XBoy and I made the long trip to The Metro to build ourselves a fricken bear.

09building_a_bear_2  The store was relatively calm and as I tried to point out all the cool kinds of carcasses to be stuffed, XBoy zeroed in on the black bear. The Grizzly Bear, so he said. I asked over and over again if he was sure. Once we got it, there was no changing of mind. He was adamant. He wanted the black bear.

At that time, one of the store employees lead us to the stuffing machine and asked XBoy if he wanted the bear soft and cuddly or strong and full. I think I realized how little XBoy still is when he answered, "soft and cuddly".

09building_a_bear_1_2  We added a beating heart (a little disconcerting, but certainly better than the voice boxes that squeaked out "You’re my BEST friend") as well as a satin heart, which XBoy was instructed to warm in his hands and kiss before handing it over to the employee. She packed everything inside the torso and with a couple good tugs on the strings, the Grizzly Bear was complete.

But the marketing strategy of Build-A-Bear was just beginning!

09building_a_bear_3 They had a place to groom your new best friend. A shower and tub to wash your new best friend (with compressed air). Then there were the clothes. And more clothes. And still…more clothes.

You could get anything you would get for a human: underwear, socks, shoes, sunglasses, wigs, hats, costumes, not to mention your "normal" clothes.

When XBoy’s eyes fell upon the Superman costume, I warned him that he could only have a costume and one "everyday" outfit. His face, which had been so happy before, fell. I realized what an ass I was being and that this will more than likely be the only trip we will make to this store. I told him I had changed my mind and that he could pick out whatever he wanted.

One of the employees was kind enough to offer us a basket for our haul. She must have overheard me.

We completed a birth certificate on-line for the bear, which XBoy named Tony Stewart. The bear even has a tracking tag inside him in case he gets misplaced (and some good samaritan recognizes that it’s a Build-A-Bear animal AND turns it in for a scanning), they can give him a wanding (unlike the wanding you and I get) and find his home.

After the mini shopping spree, we stowed away in our cardboard house a pair of boxer briefs, jeans, racing t-shirt, a Husker t-shirt (hey, I live in Nebraska…it’s a given. However, I would like to state for the record, I am NOT a fan), some Sketcher shoes, and Superman jammies. XBoy dressed him in the Superman costume and carried him around the mall for the rest of the day.

He received many compliments on his bear and he told me several times that he loves his new best friend. My crusty heart warmed.

You may roll your eyes and pledge never to allow your child, niece, nephew, step-child, whatever, to participate in this, but for as cheesy as I thought it was, I was so happy that I was still able to have this time with my son. I know that by next fall when he’s a first grader, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to do it. I already hear, "I’m a big boy, Mommmmm!" to which I cringe inwardly. I’m still Mommy, dammit!

09building_a_bear_5 After the day we had, I realize that while I can’t have every moment of my son’s childhood etched into my memory for instant recall, I will have this. In some ways, it makes me a bit melancholy for the moments that I missed or the opportunities lost. This summer I was determined to take him to the water park that is about an hour from here every other weekend. We only went once.

He’s reached an age where in 20, 30, 40 years, he will recall these moments as some of his earliest memories. It’s important to me that he thinks about them fondly and that either his father or I are there in the images that flit across his brain, smiling, happy, and…well…there.



  1. What a wonderful time to share with your son. They just grow up way to fast so we have to enjoy those special moments when we can. After reading that I think I need to go have a cry. Take care

  2. I wanted to complement you on deciding to do the bear. 🙂 It’s always a wonderful experience. Our son got one we created for him at birth, and has gotten one for every birthday. He will be turning 4 this year, so we will be taking him to make one.

    I did want to also mention though, that the crocs may not be a good idea for every day wear. They are known to be dangerous on escalators at the very least. My own niece was visiting me last summer, and wore a pair of flip-flops out. The toes of them got caught in an escalator and it chewed up part of them. Luckily, she had stepped out of the flip flops and wasn’t injured. But yea, I don’t know if the mall you went to has escalators, but I’d ban the crocs anywhere that might. They’re as suicidal as Heelies. lol

  3. Not sure why, but this brought out the waterworks. I can’t wait to do this with Critter…if only he will get here! I still remember getting my first teddy on Christmas morning. It was also a black bear. It sat on the fireplace under the Christmas stockings. It wore a tartan plaid bow. I was so in love! The sentimentality is strong in this post!

  4. L is 9.5 and STILL loves B-a-B. It’s become a birthday tradition but it won’t last much longer I’m afraid. :o(

  5. L is 9.5 and STILL loves B-a-B. It’s become a birthday tradition but it won’t last much longer I’m afraid. :o(

  6. Awwww, what a lovely day to spend with your boy. He looks so content. And love the superman outfit he picked out!

  7. How cute. He looks so happy! I too love the superman outfit.

  8. You’ve brought tears to my eyes. Makes me so sad for all the opportunities I’ve missed with DS because of “youknowwhat” but also makes me so happy to have him and all our wonderful memories.

  9. Love the picture essay.

    My son is 10 (!!!) and still begs to go. He says age doesn’t matter. I believe he’ll take one of the damn things to college.

  10. Thanks for this post dd. As money is often tight lately I find my self dismissing things like this quite often. But your point is a very good one … these will be some of J’s earliest memories. I’ve tried this summer to do some special things, but it is surprising how quickly the time flies. Thanks for reminding me to jump in there and take advantage!

    Oh, and man is he the cutest cutie-patootie!

    PS–my bone dr husband says absolutely NO heelies! Heelies + kids = broken arms

  11. Meh…I have two build-a-bears on my bed – that were purchased on two trips with Kelsey, who has more than 2 build-a-bears. They’re not cheap, but the fun we’ve had “building” them together is worth it.

  12. This is so cool and XBoy does look well and truly happy in these pictures.

  13. Dammit! Now you’ve convinced me to give into Sam’s request to visit that God-awful place!

    (So glad you were able to make such a wonderful memory.)

  14. Awwwww… that’s just so sweet. And damn you for making me want to take my kid to the Build-a-Bear!

  15. Awwwww… that’s just so sweet. And damn you for making me want to take my kid to the Build-a-Bear!

  16. What a beautiful memory. When you said XBoy wanted a “soft and cuddly” bear, totally made me teary. You are such a great mommy! Sniff.

  17. I made one for myself a few years ago. It’s fun! I can’t wait for Bridget to be old enough to be able to do it.

    And I LOVE that your son named his bear Tony Stewart. Will he be begging you to go back for a Dale Jr one day? Just kidding….

  18. We are looking at the Suess bear for our upcoming baby. We love the Build a bear idea.
    Also…we HATE the Healies…

  19. Bug is 11.5 and she LOVES build a bear. She always begs to go too. Hope your little guy will keep wanting to go for a long time.

    Great post.

  20. They do grow up so fast.
    He looks so happy with his bear!

  21. Build a Bear is fun. I’m such a dork that I went and made my own when I found out there was a store here (after being deprived a visit while in Denver).

    They didn’t have the tracking thing when I made mine so that is kind of cool.

    Glad you had a decent time.

    Pray-tell, what soured you from being a Nebraska fan? I’m not a mega fan, but I do watch/listen to the games and generally route/root (which freaking spelling do I use for that?!) for them (unless they’re playing like asses, which has happened more than I care to admit).

  22. What a wonderful day with your son! Thank you for posting such a warm and shmoopie story. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  23. He’s such a cute bear–but he pales in comparison to your cute son and the cute story. I love it. P still talks about their day on the beach, probably because I hung up one of the pictures of them together and another of the four of us together. He loves looking at them and talking about XBoy, and wants to know when they can see each other again.

    I hope sometime.

  24. My skater boy has not asked for Heelies – yet. I know he will. My problem with them is that the kids NEVER walk. NEVER. It just bugs me. I know the point of them is to skate, but still – you don’t have to skate ALL the time. Do they allow them at school? I would think not.

    Every night I wonder what The Boy will take to his adulthood from that day. More than once the thought has shamed me to tears.

  25. When I was teaching fourth grade, these Build a Bears would be shown for show and tell ever so often. There was always a chorus of request that it would be passed around for a closer look. I always got such joy watching the “too cool” boys who you would never think of as stuff animal guys. They would always gently hold the little bear and you could just tell that inside that tough exterior was a snuggler at heart. So don’t fret too much, he may not always display it later on, but he’ll still have that little boy inside and will give you more glimpses of him than you would expect!

  26. I like to give them to one of the children’s charities at Christmas.

    My neice has one. We bought the thing mickey mouse gloves and pants and ears at Disney World one year and the very next morning she lost a glove. Luckily a groundskeeper found it while we were searching and gave it back to us.

  27. I love this post….

  28. The time does go so quickly and he WILL remember this. I too made the pledge to go to the pool this summer and only made it a handful of times.

  29. I don’t think it is cheesy…I still have my teddy bear from when I was a child. I can only imagine if I had gotten to build my teddy. That would have been really awesome.

  30. That’s lovely

  31. I love Build A Bear. Well, you know, what with Mag being a girl and all, it was always ok for us to go there. Now with Will, we’ll probably go anyway. I’ve always seen boys in there making Harley bears and racing bears…

  32. I was not going to actually admit that I teared up until I saw others did also. He is still a little boy, I want to kiss his little cheeks.

    I am going to reference this post when Mr. Jitters refuses to go into that store. He hates it and scowls at it everytime we pass it.

    We will go also (I am only admitting that here, you know).

  33. Sounds like a fun time. Certainly a possible budget-breaker thanks to all their little in-house marketing ploys…but fun.

  34. Way to go mom…you are soooo right about him growing up very very fast. The other day I went in to clean #1’s room since he is now residing in the hollowed halls of his dorm…and I found “frisky” his first bear. I called #1 and (half) jokingly asked him if he wanted me to bring the bear when I came to visit. When he was little he NEVER went to bed w/o frisky clutched in his little fingers…enjoy these precious times.

  35. God i love you. my son has that stuporman outfit for the bear my mother gave him. (she has actually given him four…)
    You gave him a nice memory. I guess you’re not so bad in the mommy dept. after all…lol!

  36. Awww. This was so sweet and not cringe worthy at all. I’m sad to think that my little boys will ever be so old that they won’t love stuffed animals.

    That superman outfit is too cute.

  37. adorable!!!

  38. I’m so glad to read that other posters have made their own bears. Yes, my kids have them, and so do I. And we dress them up and get outfits made for them and everything!

  39. I love the Halloween costumes for the bears — the mummy bear is my favorite.

    Savor it while you can and build those great memories. Soon he will be a teenage and want nothing to do with anyone as uncool as his parents.

  40. Jeff and I were just talking the other day about how strange it is that Myles won’t remember any of this time. We were both trying to recall our earliest memories and for both of us, the very earliest involved injuries of some kind.
    I hope Myles earliest memories will be lovely. I hope X will someday look at his Superman bear and remember the day it was made.

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