Friday, May 6, 2011

Introducing: William the Wonder Bear

When I was born, my parents bought me a small white teddy bear. Before I had learned to walk, talk, or defend my territory, my older sister and brother "borrowed" my bear to play with on their own. It really followed the sibling code as I understand it, which is that if you're not using a toy, it means you don't want it and therefore it is fair game. So really, my siblings were just putting my bear to good use while I could not.

My first Christmas, my parents gave me a wonderful book called Alphabears, written by Kathleen Hague and illustrated by Michael Hague. They chose it because the bear for L is Laura, who doesn't like lightning. (As it turns out, this Laura doesn't either). It was always one of my favorite books when I was little. My sister and brother read Alphabears as well, and they noticed that the bear for W, William, looked strikingly like my own teddy bear. The line reads, "W is for William, the great wonder bear/He wears a white cape and soars through the air." My bear was dubbed William the Wonder Bear and I'm guessing was launched through the air frequently.

My bear on solid ground.

Now, seeing as I was less than three months old at this time, I do not remember my bear being named William the Wonder Bear. I grew very attached to my bear and slept cuddled up with it every night. One day when I was about three, I took my bear with me as I accompanied my mom to the post office. As we walked along the sidewalk, I realized that I hadn't named my bear yet. I'd had it for three years and it didn't have a name! I thought that the right name just hadn't occurred to me yet. So then and there, I decided on the bear's name: Rainbow. Very appropriate for an entirely white bear.

I also began to dress Rainbow in clothes that I found in our attic. Later I discovered these had belonged to one of my sister's dolls. According to the sibling code, though, the doll clearly wasn't wearing them, so... Anyways, when my brother and sister discovered that I had renamed William the Wonder Bear, they were horrified. This was partly because Rainbow is not nearly as glorious and superhero-like as William the Wonder Bear, but also because William...

... was now female!

Rainbow, as long as I have known her, has been a girl bear. In the nearly twenty years since that fateful day at the post office, my brother and sister have not forgotten their days with the Wonder Bear, and still occasionally call her by that name. Every now and then they lament the days when William was their bear who would fly around our house. Rainbow also provoked other jealousies as I grew up. Since my siblings are a bit older than me, they were off at school while I played at home and convinced my mom to help me make clothes for Rainbow. My siblings complained that my bear got more perks than they did. My sister was incensed when Rainbow got a small version the tall, multicolored hat that she had always asked for, the kind that street vendors sell on Patriots' Day and the Fourth of July.

Next up, the Belle dress my sister always wanted!

Okay... maybe that was a little much. But she does look fantastic, right? This bear has been with me through many phases. Rainbow was my model for early stitching and knitting projects and she still has a box full of oddly shaped dresses and scarves. When for some reason in elementary school I thought having a cast seemed cool, Rainbow "broke her arm." I found white cloth to wrap around her arm, then made her a sling. Eventually, it healed, probably after a couple days when I realized that she was easier to cuddle with if she didn't have the extra gear.
She was also the star of my attempted film musical based on Beatles music during first grade. It's probably good for all my family and friends that I never finished that screenplay. I believe the plot revolved around Rainbow disappearing and a fuzzy reindeer stuffed animal named Jude going out to get her, wherever she was. I like to think I got more creative after that year.

Rainbow has come with me to college and helped me get through homesickness, stress, and thunder storms. I'd say that takes a Wonder Bear. She'll be coming with me wherever else I end up, too. When it came time to think of a title for this blog, referencing William just seemed to fit.

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