“I do it Grandma,” Jet says as she climbs into her car seat. We have an understanding about her seat buckle. I get to snap in the bottom part and she can latch the chest piece before I pull it tight. The stroller is in the trunk and the diaper bag is packed. We are ready for our mission to Build-A-Bear at the mall. Jet is going to make identical stuffed bears for her future twin brothers. The bears will be used in her photo sitting later in the week.
“After we make the bears,” I tell Jet, “you can make a bear just for you!” I am excited at the prospect of spoiling her and she is excited by my enthusiasm. We arrive on the perfect day and time for an excursion of this sort. At 10:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning we are the only customers in the store. The clerk assigned to help us is fresh, pleasant and a natural with children. Jet warms to her quickly and selects two bear skins in short order.
The store has arranged every nuance of the experience to suit both an adult and child. Jet is engaged by the opportunity to select a special “heart” to go inside each bear, and I am completely charmed by the sentiment of the act. I have the opportunity to shake my head “no” to reject an expensive upscale heart before Jet is offered the option. After the successful selection of hearts, Jet is primed to follow the clerk’s instructions at the stuffing machine.
As she steps on the pedal, a red checked heart is clutched tightly in each hand. A blower engages and a stuffing thresher begins to whir. Jet steps back in alarm but she is easily reassured and ready to try again. Her eyes grow wide as fiber fills and expands the flat bear body.
The clerk tells Jet to step off the pedal saying, “Now it’s time to add the heart!” Jet carefully seals it with the required kiss and slowly places it in the bear’s back. The clerk pulls a drawstring and ties off the seam. One bear down! Jet places him in the stroller so he can observe the proceedings.
Suddenly, Jet is a professional bear-maker. She can’t wait to get back on the pedal for the second bear. She bestows an enthusiastic kiss on the heart and installs it with confidence. This bear lacks a drawstring, so the clerk must sew him up by hand. She invites Jet to give the first bear a “bath” while we wait.
The “water” appears to move in the tub and Jet finds bath toys, soap, shampoo and a hairdryer ready for her use. “Close you eyes. Look up. Don’t get soap in you eyes!” Jet tells the bear as she washes his hair. It seems the second bear is ready in no time. Of course, he has to have a bath too!
Now we are ready for Jet’s bear, but she has other ideas. She’s seen a bunny with bright eyes, floppy ears and just the hint of a smile. Jet wants that one! “If you’re happy, I’m happy,” I tell her. She knows what comes next and runs to the heart selection station. Jet picks the same red checked heart that she chose for her brother’s bears. Soon the bunny is stuffed, bathed and ready to go home, but Jet has one more surprise in store to complete this perfect morning. I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to indulge her completely and this will be the icing on the cake. “Now you can pick out clothes for your bunny,” I tell her. “One outfit… whatever you want!”
She doesn’t need to be told twice, but she does have some trouble deciding between Belle’s yellow ball gown and a sequined hot pink satin and tulle number. The pink theme wins. Shoes are next. I’m smiling from ear to ear as Jet debates the merits of glittering silver versus sparkling hot pink. The clerk points out that the pink matches the dress. Jet thinks matching shoes are a must! Suddenly, Jet sees bins of underwear and her excitement overflows. Underpants! The bunny must have underpants. Naturally, I can’t help but agree, especially with the hole in the back just right for a tail. How cute is that?
I think we are done, now, but Jet has seen the accessory section. A bow for the bunny’s ear… or glasses? Jet thinks the bunny had better have glasses just like Grandma’s (so she can see better) but she selects a hot pink color that her Grandma would not wear in her wildest dreams. I promise to make a bow at home later too.
The clerk sends us to a computer station and we place the bunny on a screen in the table. The scanner correctly identifies that Jet is adopting a bunny and prints a birth certificate for her to take home. The bears will wait in the nursery for Jet’s baby brothers to arrive. Her bunny however is already a new friend!