When I was a kid, I wanted to be a bear


When I was a kid, I wanted to be a bear.

A big, brown, fluffy bear with big paws and a large snout. A blanket around my forehead, cotton sheets dragging behind me, and heavy knees thumped down the corridor as I was on all fours.

Sometimes, I carried my little cub—my childhood teddy bear—around with me on my covered back. The occasional thump, thump, thump interrupted by a single thunk, alerting me to look at my little one who had fallen.

I would curl my tiny arms around the stuffed bear, in my self-made den under my bed. I would snuggle close to my cub to resemble a mother bear and her baby in those long winter months when they only had each other for companionship and warmth.

I had an enormous den crafted off quilts, stolen pillows, children’s books, and stuffed animals galore draping and flung across the bedroom floor.

The underside of my bed was a bear’s paradise, everything comfy shoved in between the confined space of a freezing floor and wooden bed frame. A place where I would squeeze my tiny scrawny toddler body under to fit. A place where no one else could visit.

I made my own stars in the sky, one sticky piece of paper at a time, so I could count them and say goodbye to them every night.”

I decorated the underside with a mosaic made of stickers. It was a barge of multicolored pictures ranging from butterflies to cartoon characters. I made my own stars in the sky one sticky piece of paper at a time, so I could count them and say goodbye to them every night.

I could sing myself a bear lullaby—a grizzly tune—to lull my imagined cub to sleep, tell them stories, and portray my innocent affection in tight cuddles.

Sometimes, I imagined we were in the frigid grips of winter, the frosted wind howling uselessly against my defense, safe and tucked away in a place that was so peaceful and warm I didn’t want to leave.

And after winter ended, I would take on enormous challenges to forage for food in the tall pine cabinets and clamor up against stone slab counters standing up on my tipping toes for sweet honey.

Nowadays, I have stopped playing bear, building a den under a bed I can’t even fit under anymore, or tying a sheet to my head like a psychopath. 

But I still find myself missing those innocent days of building pleasant dens, cuddling my stuffed cub, and being tucked safely away under my wooden sky.