Birthdays and Bear Physicals

Eight years ago today, my daughter Whitney was born. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I was extremely sick with pneumonia and could barely breath but Trina insisted that I be in the delivery room with her to witness the birth of our child. I was barely conscious but I do remember the birth and seeing my daughter for the first time. It was awe inspiring seeing a new life being brought into this world. I have seen grown men become very emotional when it comes to experiences such as this. The closest thing I could compare it to was the feeling of seeing your favorite baseball team win the World Series.

Every year as her birthday arrives, I am reminded of that day and how much she means to me and to our family. Each year I attempt to find a special birthday gift for my children, one that will let them know how much they mean to me. This year I thought it was appropriate that Whitney receive a stuffed animal. Not just any stuffed animal but one from Build a Bear Workshop. This store just opened near us and Trina assured me that this would be a great gift. I went into the store with my daughter to let her select and build her bear. The first thing I noticed was that along the wall were lined crates of bear carcasses. It was like seeing plush roadkill. Whitney selected her bear and took it to a machine where a worker helped her stuff the animal using some sort of stuffed animal surgical probe not so gently stuck up the flat animal’s backside. Having recently experienced my first prostate cancer screening, this whole experience made me uncomfortable. It didn’t seem to bother Whitney though as she gleefully pressed the button inflating her roadkill. Once the bear attained the proper obesity, the worker inserted a sound device, a heart, and stitched the bear closed. We were then led to some sort of gas chamber where we shot the bear with compressed air until its fur stood on end.

The back of the store was lined with bear sized clothing that you could purchase so you weren’t seen fondling a naked bear I guess. Anyway, after appropriately dressing the bear, we were led to a computer where we entered the bear’s vital signs and gave it a name. I figured this was why I was brought in. After all, I had lots of great names that would be appropriate (or so I thought). I suggested Bearzilla, Bear Dot Com, Bank One Bear, Bear Bryant, Bob Bearly, Beary Potter, Roadkill Warrior. Nothing but blank stares from Trina and Whitney. They then huddled up and between the two of them named the bear Courtney. What kind of lame name is that? No one will fear a bear named Courtney. If a real bear had a name like that, they would come home to find little blonde girls ransacking their cave, eating their porridge, busting up their furniture and crashing in their bed. Well, who am I to argue with a child on what to name her bear. Reluctantly, I kept my mouth shut and did the job I was sent here to do, I paid the cashier so we could take Courtney home. Funny, that is about the same job I had eight years ago when we brought a bare Whitney home from the hospital. Some things never change.

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