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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Body Language (11/25/10)

TITLE: The Teddy Bear
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Grandma and Grandpa were moving from the farmhouse to the little house up the road. I was a happy, eager-to-please four-year old. Looking back, I know my helping was likely more of a hindrance than any form of assistance.

However, in my preschooler glory, I didn’t realize that and I was eager to pack up boxes of treasures that had been stored in my grandparents’ attic. I can still picture the dusty boxes. It was like a treasure hunt. I never knew if I’d reach in and find some boring legal documents or something that would cause me to stop with wonder.

After several hours of being told, “Go help Grandma in the kitchen,” or a dirty look from my brother as he tripped over me for the umpteenth time, I finally found the perfect place to be helpful and have some fun too. I dug through boxes of old toys. There were trucks that my father likely played with, along with dolls for my aunt.

My eyes lit up when I found a teddy bear. He wasn’t especially soft, but he looked at me with his glass eyes and I was in love. I timidly approached my grandfather; I knew the bear and I belonged together. My grandfather wasn’t the sit-on-the-front-porch-and crawl–into-my-lap type of grandfather. He was a big, tall, scary dude.

I looked up at him with my little blue eyes dancing, “Grandpa, are you gonna get rid of this bear?” He was so tall I had to bend my neck to an almost ninety degree angle. I let my lower lip slip out. This required just the right amount of squeak in my voice and that lower lip couldn’t protrude too far. I had to get this down just right or I knew I’d have no chance acquiring this treasure.

Grandpa put his hands on his hips, narrowed his eyes, and looked down his nose at me. “That used to be my bear when I was little. Do you have anything you’re willing to trade for it?”

I shook the words out of my little redhead. That wasn’t right; he’d been giving stuff away all day. I wasn’t supposed to have to barter for it; after all I was his granddaughter. A quick glance at the bear and I knew I had to have it. I sighed and scratched my head; I tried batting my eyelashes one more time. “Please, Grandpa, I’ll give it a good home.”

“Nope, that bear is too special to give away, you run across the road and check your toy-box and see if you have something to trade for it.”

Quick as a wink, my little four-year old legs pumped up and down; I flew across the road, tore into the house, and screeched to a halt in front of my bed. There on my pillow was my panda. I picked it up and hugged it. It was soft and squishy, not rough and prickly like the other bear. Still, the treasured bear had jointed legs and arms. Its head could move side to side. My panda bear had jelly stains on it and the white part was really gray. I loved my panda, but I knew I had to trade it for the “new” bear.

So once again, my little legs chugged across the road. The panda’s head went thump, thump on the steps as I climbed back into the attic.

My grandfather’s mouth dropped down and his eyebrows shot up. I hugged and kissed my panda goodbye, then slowly handed it to Grandpa. Little tears plopped down my face. I shuffled from one foot to the other.

Gruffly, Grandpa shoved the new bear into my arms. “Here, take them, go home, and leave me alone before I change my mind and keep them both.”

I turned on the spot, clutching both bears in my arms and sprinted home. Today, some forty years later, I no longer have my beloved panda, but Grandpa’s Teddy Roosevelt bear sits in a place of honor.

I learned quite a bit that day, like when a four-year old offers to help; she usually just gets in the way. I also learned that I have great bargaining skills. I still enjoy haggling over the price of anything. But most of all, I learned that even tough, scary dudes can’t help but resist the charms of cute little redheads. My grandpa did love me; he just had a hard time showing it.

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This article has been read 696 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Theresa Santy 12/02/10
Very sweet and tender story. I loved the way you described the scened and actions. I could picture the little red head, lip protruding one moment, darting accross the street another.

Very nicely done.
AnneRene' Capp12/05/10
Oh, this is precious! I vividly saw you as that little redheaded girl with blue eyes, run back and forth in that yard and stare into that scary dudes eyes! :)

This truley captured my heart. Also loved how you showed the bartering skills still at work! Really liked that you still have that teddy bear which is now nestled in it's very own special place of honor.
Edmond Ng 12/05/10
A lovely story bringing to remembrance such wonderful memories of the innocence as a child. You have successfully captured the feelings and moods within the story of the precious times the MC had in reflecting our own. Great job!
Noel Mitaxa 12/05/10
That's one tough and grumpy grampa who won't panda to nobody! But this is one seriously well-described episode from childhood. I loved the warmth and innocence that you have conveyed here. Great work.
Cheryl Harrison12/05/10
I shook the words out of my little red head. :o)

Cute story. I enjoyed reading it. Blessings.
Patricia Turner12/05/10
You pictured each of these characters so well I could see the story playing out. Terrific! I especially like how you showed the grandfather's character instead of just telling us about it.
Colin Nielsen12/05/10
Sweet story. Not sure a four year old would know the term barter I'm guessing this was written as an adult or something.
Grandad seemed very stern. Which is very believable. Mine is like that although he's mellowed a lot now. Or maybe it's because I'm not little the Crazy ole man can't push me around verbally anymore lol.
Thanks for bringing up some memories, some bad but mainly good.
Colin Swann12/06/10
I really enjoyed this sweet interesting story. The grandpa's name sounded important! Great writing!
Lollie Hofer12/06/10
What a beautiful story, sweet and sad all wrapped up into one story. Your imagery was strong and I could see the little girl using her bartering abilities to get that teddy bear. Loved the red curls too. I could see them bounce.
Amanda Brogan12/09/10
Yay Shann!!! :D Congrats on getting Highly Commended! You deserve it.
Lollie Hofer12/09/10
Congrats, Shann, on your recognition. I'm glad it did so well cuz' I reeeeaaalllly liked it. :)
Carol Penhorwood 12/09/10
Congratulations on your HC that was also a winner in my book! Loved the poignancy in this and couldn't help but think what it cost Jesus because He loved us.
Nancy Bucca12/09/10
Congratulations on being highly commended. This is a sweet story.
stanley Bednarz12/09/10
Congrates. Very interesting voice in this piece. The tone and tenor of it drew me in as if under a spell. A good one though. stan
Colin Swann12/09/10
Well done Shann with your placement of HC!
The Masked Truelovers12/09/10
The four-year old redhead reminds me of something my daughter has always done to me through the years - even occasionally as a 15 year old - with the lip (and puppy dog eyes). Congrats on #18 overall and HC.
Nancy Sullivan 12/09/10
Congratulations, Shann. This story is so precious. Who could have resisted this red-haired, well-rehearsed doll named Shann? Great job!
Joan Campbell12/11/10
Wow Shann! Congratulations on your HC with this oh-so-tenderly told story! Your writing has always sparkled with so much "heart," but what I see now is great skill and technique as well - you've grown in the last year!
Dannie Hawley 12/18/12
I loved everything about this article! It seemed like a scene in one of those Hallmark movies...so well-written! I think that the grandpa was totally embarrassed and touched at the little girl's being willing to trade something that was, obviously, important to her. Perhaps, he also was touched that she wanted the bear that had meant something to him when he was young. I think there was significant tenderness below that gruff exterior, and this really brings that out with his reaction to the trade. It's likely true that he was just trying to send her away and that he didn't realize the depth of her desire for his bear, so to see her appear before him with her own treasure to trade? Must have been really humbling for this adult. How many grandpa's get gruff, when they don't want their own tears to fall? More than we might think, I suspect. In any case, I loved the writing, as well as the story!