The eagerly anticipated day finally arrived. Peeping out of a tatty old cloth bag were two black eyes . . . it was our new house guest, Arnold, the school bear.
My daughter, Lucy, has been so excited. Each of her classmates takes it in turns to look after the furry friend and it’s a huge honour, not to mention responsibility. I have to admit I hadn’t given it much thought that is until I read Arnold’s diary.
The teacher asks the children to write about Arnold’s adventures whilst staying over-night. So how hard can that be? But, then I started reading the diary, apart from being a little paranoid by the children who had written their own tales in their fair wobbly hand, I was struck by the varied activities. The boring mundane day just wouldn’t do and when I confided in other parents I realised I was not alone.
One friend told me of parents trying to out do each other with their bear activities. It wasn’t good enough to say the bear relaxed and watched TV. No, they arranged their weekend around the bear visiting expensive restaurants and day trips to London. Diary entries included “we taught Arnold Yoga, he swam 10 lengths in our indoor heated swimming pool and then he played a few rounds of golf with daddy.”
Another friend who confessed to looking after a bear during the summer holidays in Morocco. All was well, their bear was enjoying the sun and they bravely took him on a shopping trip to a busy bazaar. But unfortunately, he must have been distracted by a stall as he became separated from the family. You can imagine their horror, this wasn’t any old bear, it was the one and only class bear! The dad frantically went up and down the market trying to spot the bear, but to no avail he was gone. The whole holiday was on the brink of being ruined, so he rang up the teacher and luckily they had a stand in looky-likey bear in the event of this happening.
Thank goodness we only had Arnold for one night and when he stayed with us he came with his own wardrobe of day clothes, a warm coat and pyjamas. He played on my daughter’s swing, did some colouring and had dinner with us. I have to say he had impeccable table manners.
Then Lucy announced he had fallen down the stairs. I dismissed this saying we didn’t need to mention this, but she insisted the accident be recorded in the diary for all to see. I was worried bear social services would come knocking on our door in the deal of night.
It was quite a relief when Arnold was pushed back in to his tatty old bag along with fitted wardrobe and diary. Next time he comes to visit I am confident he will love Mauritius along with his new summer wardrobe, own hotel room and personal masseuse and all the “bear” necessities!