I’m not usually a competitive person. You won’t find me throwing a Monopoly board across the room in a fit of pique because my five-year-old beat me. That’s just not what I do. However, the class teddy bear came home this week and now I’m in a state of mild terror and panic about making her seven days with us as exciting-looking as possible.
For clarity’s sake, she’s actually a stuffed doll and she’s really from my daughter’s Rainbows pack, but it’s the same deal as a school class teddy bear – give them some kind of adventure, take photos, stick them in a book with a description of what you did and then pass it all on. It’s worth adding that you must spend a good deal of time reading through the book after your child has gone to bed, trying to suss out which parents are more or less fun than you.
The pressure is on to out-fun the rest and this seems to have awoken my inner competitive dad. It can only end in tears.
Reasons Behind Having a Class Bear
Schools and other groups often send a class bear with a diary home to encourage children to talk about what they enjoy doing. A big part of early years education is to do with kids discovering who they are, and bringing in a furry outsider to experience their day-to-day routine really helps them think about their lives. It also allows their friends to see what they get up to when they are away from school or clubs and with their family.
Except it most definitely is not an accurate representation of their regular existence, but rather a snapshot of what the mum and dad would like the other parents to believe their real life is like.
It’s a bit like the Queen when she visits workplaces to fulfill her contractual obligation to occasionally converse with a few commoners. She must believe that all offices and factories across the UK are pristine places filled with neatly attired and faultlessly polite staff members. However, the reality is that the stock cupboard is groaning under the pressure of all the tat hastily scurried away before she arrived, and Sweary Joe has been sent off with a fiver from petty cash and tasked with asking the man at the local DIY store for a ‘long weight’.
Day 1 of the Class Teddy Bear
Olivia, for that is her name, arrived on the evening of my daughter’s Rainbows meeting and instantly disrupted our lives. She was allowed to choose the bedtime story (I know), breaking us away from our mission to make it through all the women featured in Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I love that book because my daughter is learning about some fascinating and inspiring female figures from history, but also very much because the stories are all quite short and I can get her to sleep more quickly.
But Olivia wanted something else, according to my five-year-old who appears to be the only one who can converse with the doll. She wanted to read the very long and slightly tedious Disney Little Mermaid cash-in book. Olivia and I may not get on.
After bedtime the wife and I checked out our opposition. Olivia had been to see The Greatest Showman, watched several swimming lessons, visited Derbyshire by train and sat in an actual fire engine. The latter is the one to beat, even I’m jealous of Olivia for that.
My first big idea was to take her into a local radio station at which I present some shows. People tend to mistakenly believe there is something approaching glamour about that industry, so I assumed it might help us get one up on the rest of the pack. However, I ran it past the girl at breakfast time and her dismissive “no, I don’t think so” put me right back in my box immediately.
Plans for the Class Teddy Bear
So what will we do with the class teddy bear? I know for sure that my plan of spending Saturday lazing around in my pants on the sofa is now off the table. Sending a photo of that back to Rainbows may set off some kind of alert, and quite right too.
The current plan of action, concocted between wife and daughter, seems to be to go to a trampoline park and capture some shots of Olivia bouncing away to her heart’s desire. I presume this will be then followed by a photogenic family meal and other such wholesome activities.
Hang on, that actually sounds like quite a good day. Maybe the class teddy bear idea is a worthwhile concept after all.