Monday, January 14, 2008

The Place Where Friends Are Made

When the Build-a-Bear workshop was first spotlighted on Oprah several years ago I remember thinking, "What a cute idea. I bet a lot of suckers are going to fall for it." As good, smart, friends of mine started buying their children Build-a-Bears I would smuggly think, "SUCKER!" When my daughter first asked for a Build-a-Bear I said, "Oh, honey, they are so expensive. I think you should ask Santa for something else." But what I was really thinking was, "Not on your life, you silly little girl."

Around our house there is a plethora of unused stuffed animals. Everytime we take a load of stuff to the Deseret Industries or Goodwill there is usually a stuffed animal or two in the bag. I don't buy them, ever, but other people keep giving them to us. And, not only do we have plenty of stuffed animals, we also have garbage bags full of cute little baby clothes that we save after every baby. Basically, we have all the makings of our own Build-a-Bear workshop right here. I suggested this to my dissapointed daughter and with the look she gave me I had one of those defining, "Oh no, I've become my mother," kind of moments.

***Flashback Moment***

When I was a kid I wrote a Christmas list that plainly showed my obsession with Strawberry Shortcake. On it I had everything from a Strawberry Shortcake blanket to a tube of Strawberry Shortcake lipgloss. I figured if everything I asked for was Strawberry Shortcake, and if I gave Santa a good price range to work with, I was sure to get something that I asked for (We never had much moeny growing up so I knew that Santa needed price ranges). The next morning as I unwrapped my mother's lovingly homemade strawberry shortcake doll and homemade strawberry shortcake blanket my heart was crushed. I acted pleased and happy but my heart ached. (I still have the doll and blanket and cherish them now that I'm old enough to realize what my mother had done for me out of love). There was also the Cabbage Patch doll dreams of my sister that just couldn't be fulfilled by the lovingly handmade Cabbage Patch style doll my mom made her. Who would have thought that the simple commercial ideas of strawberry scented hair and signatured bums would mean so much to a child?

Who would have thought that a simple fabric heart, that you rub all over yourself and then never see again once they sew your bear up, would mean so much to my child? Well, after 2 1/2 years of consistently being asked for a Build-a-Bear at every birthday and Christmas I finally decided to call her bluff of, "All I want is a Build-a-Bear. I don't want any other toy but that." She didn't receive a single toy from anyone this year; instead I gave her a coupon for lunch at the mall and $40 of Grandma Christmas money to spend on a Build-a-Bear. I bit my tongue through the whole agonizing, lovely, memory making event. Keeping my mouth shut as I forked out $23 for her, her friend, and I to eat in the food court (How on earth do all those teenagers have the money to eat here everyday???) I told myself I was paying for memories. Standing in line for over and hour (NEVER go to the Biuld-a-Bear workshop on the Saturday after Christmas) I was so proud of myself for not trying to talk my daughter into getting the cheapest bear (I listened to other mothers doing what I usually do and I could hear the original joy being sucked away as each little girl had to choose between her dream bear and making her mother happy). 2 1/2 hours later we ended up with just enough money to buy the most expensive bear-cheetah available (my girl has taste) and a cute shirt and jean skirt.

Was it worth it? Did having a full body rubbed heart (seriously, you need to hear the whole cheesey heart rubbing routine they give these kids in the store. It is ridiculous), a hand picked outfit, and a cute little lint removing shower really make this stuffed cheetah any more special in the eyes of a 9 yr old girl? YOU BETCHA IT DID!!! This cheetah is like the coolest toy ever. Everyone wants to hold it. The girls take turns taking it to bed with them. DSSH gets no end of pleasure out of threatening to cut it up or throw it away while his girls chase him screaming. And, though I held my tongue so well at the cash sucking mall, I get the daily pleasure of trying to keep that $40 stuffed animal out of the toilet, off the floor, away from hot chocolate spills, and giving my daughter the constant reminder that I won't replace it if it gets lost, stolen, or ruined. *Sigh* I am my mother's daughter after all.


Jen said...

As a kid, I got the homemade Cabbage Patch Kid, and I got the homemade Pound Puppy...I can so relate to this post!

Stuffed animals seem to breed under the cover of night. I'm taking 2 boxes to DI today as a matter of fact.

Family Adventure said...

You did a lovely thing for your daughter. You created memories that will last a lifetime. I'm proud of you for holding your tongue - I would have been hard-pressed myself :)


Misty said...

Girl. You did it. You did some thing for Cookie that you (wink) and she can treasure together. It's hard for me when I want to "help" my children choose the more practical/most-bang-for-your-buck items, instead trying to keep my mouth shut so that they can enjoy those magical moments.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I vowed never to pay for my children to have Build-a-Bears either, but Keri now has three thanks to her grandma and other friends.

At least our kids have good memories to cherish now :) !!

Cheshire Cat said...

Sophie saw the build a bear store at the mall when she was 3 years old. She wanted a stuffed Unicorn from Build a Bear so Bad. At the time she was not potty trained but I had been working on it with her. I told her that those animals only go home with girls that use the potty. I said if she could be dry with no accidents for a whole week then we would come back and make the unicorn. She was dry from that day on. We made that Unicorn and rubbed the heart and washed it and named it. We didn't get clothes that day. I told her once she could be dry at night we would come back for an outfit. It was a few months before we went back to buy the outfit but it was the incentive she needed at the time. Three years later she still remembers making her unicorn and it is still one of her favorite animals.

Auntie Becks said...

Oh, I know what you mean!! And after a while, even the Build-A-Bear gets lost in the stuffed animal shuffle. We had the most precios, specailest ever Karate Curious George that we were going to cherish for ever and ever without end, and now all I can find of his outfit is the occasional karate belt poking out from under the couch.

Although, I'm thinking you did it right...she had to wait so long for the cheetah that it probably will be cherished for ever and ever without end.

I love your stories! Thanks for stopping by my blog and posting a comment. It really takes a big man to let icy cold feet touch his warm legs. :-)

Lisa said...

I will not buy them. My kids have plenty of stuffed animals (and plenty of build-a-bear's too!) and it is such a waste of money. But it's their money, not mine. I try to say things like, "What toy will you give up to make room for this one?" But ultimately, I am the driver and for some reason my van doesn't go that way! ;)

Becky said...

I drove all over Forest Grove one afternoon after we got home from a walk and discovered we had lost the shorts to Natalie's bear she got from her birthday. We never found them (and I have got away with not replacing them, yet)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Sis--I remember the homemade Cabbage Patch doll I got, but you know what? I prefer it to the read deal I later bought for myself with the babysitting money! :)

Kim said...

I went through the same things with my daughter, well sort of. She actually had her own hard earned money to spend and I TRIED to convince her to spend it on something else but she was set on a stupid Build a Bear. We went to the mall (on a weeknight, only way you can drag me in there) and she made a goofy looking frog. She dressed up up in swim trunks, tank top and sandals. That was when she was 9... she is now 13 and still sleeps with that goofy looking frog.

It's crazy, but making those things themselves really does make a difference to the kids. In fact, we went back later and she and my son each made an animal for the baby (whom we were still months away from bringing home). They were very proud of the furry creatures they had made for their future brother.

Kim @ TheBitterBall

Childlife said...

I'm just cracking up... 'cause I'm glad I'm not the only one who caved!

We ended up with a fairy princess meowing kitty. With pink shoes. That don't stay on. That I have to retrace our steps everywhere to recover. Memorieeeezzzzz...... : )

Liz said...

Oh, you're in for it now, my niece has 8 of them! They are by far the most well-cared for, loved of all her stuffed animals.

By the way, I made the chicken stock. I have to say, it had a greenish hue after refrigerating, but maybe it was from the parsley stems I put in. Smelled good, tasted good, so I parceled it out and froze it.

just jamie said...

You really brought back memories with the home-made cabbage patch kid story. Damn that "J---e Mo---r) who had 27, yes, TWENTY SEVEN little chubby-cheeked dolls lined up in her room, and I got a home-made one from my aunt (complete with matching outfit for me).

You exercised some darn good parenting. And for the record, *I* wanted to go to Build-a-Bear more than my kids. Two bears, a bunny, and a dog later -- I'm good. All beared out!

elena jane said...

as a mom who has taken each of her 5 children to build a bear and LOVED every moment of it, i salute you for giving in to the moment!!
and fwiw, i love the whole heart rubbing ceremony....i'm such a kook!
and i did it specially for each of them cos i knew my mom would have spoiled them with it :)