Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


When my grandchildren were small, I started wearing cargo-pocket pants, so I could have room for toys. Little toys, but large enough they couldn’t swallow them. Little lady bugs and dinosaurs and butterflies. And bears. Especially bears. Pandas and brown and black and polar. They were the most popular. Whenever one of the grands had a bad day, I’d pull out a handful of bears. They could choose one. As any hunter in the UP can tell you, getting a new bear just brightens up your day. I eventually gave up on the dinosaurs and lady bugs. I still have some, but I don’t carry them. Kids always choose bears.

Having grandkids, I spent a lot of time where there were other little children. Often one of them was having a bad day, too. So I pulled out the bears for them, also.

My grandchildren are old enough now that it takes a new computer or new car to help them through a bad day, but I still encounter a lot of little children, in waiting rooms and restaurants and the mall. They think bears are good enough, so I still carry a pocketful of bears.

Those bears sometimes provide hilarity. We were going through customs in the Montreal airport and had to empty our pockets onto a conveyor belt. I did so. The woman in line behind me hid her mouth. She giggled. Then she chortled. Then she laughed out loud. She pointed at the little plastic/rubber bears on the conveyor and gurgled, “I’m sorry, but I just didn’t expect them.”

I never give a bear directly to a child. Don’t want them to think it’s okay to take toys from strangers. I hand it to the adult who is with them and say something, including both of them, along the lines of: “Sometimes when a person is having a bad day, a new bear makes things better.” So often, a little later, we hear laughter from the place where tears were before.

The bears are primarily for the kids, of course, but also for the adults. Sometimes a child is having a bad day because of the adult who is with them. In handing a bear to the adult, I’m saying: “You’re not alone. Others care about your efforts to take care of this child, and sympathize. Also, others are watching how you are caring for this child.” It is just a small attempt at child protection. It works in a way that just saying, “I’m watching what you’re doing” never would.

That is why I am breaking my vow of political ignorance. Being aware of what current politicians are doing is very difficult for me. I do not suffer fools, dupes, idiots, narcissists, or hypocrites gladly. Greed and nastiness take a toll on my soul. For over a month now, I have ignored all political news. But I have decided that my emotional health amounts to nothing compared to the future of my children and grandchildren and all the little children for whom I carry bears.

It turns out that ignorance isn’t very blissful after all. It is time for me, and I hope for you, to get out the bears and reach them out to say, “We see what you are doing.”

I tweet as yooper1721.

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