Saturday, 16 January 2016

Damn that bear!

Some time ago, and completely out of the blue, ET started telling us about 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt'. It was a book he didn't own (one of the few - he's a little bookworm), so we naturally assumed it was something they read to him at nursery. He mentioned it every so often and, over the Christmas break, we were lucky enough to go see a live performance for the 25th anniversary. ET loved it; he clapped, he (tried to) sing along and he particularly liked it when the cast squirted the audience with water pistols and super soakers (I was less impressed by that).

Yeah, you  better run! I'm soaked!

The Book People regularly visit my office. On Tuesday this week, as I went to leave for lunch, I noticed a rather special copy of We're Going on a Bear Hunt; it was a 'deluxe edition'. What this meant was that it came in a cardboard sleeve and the book itself was hardback, but that was about it. It only cost £4, so I felt it unwise to quibble over the definition of 'deluxe' in this instance, plus I was excited that we'd finally got a copy of this wonderful book, a book my son had gone on and on about for months now. I looked forward to reading it to him that very night as part of his bedtime routine.

Cut to some hours later; ET had been excited to read his new book, too, as he eagerly flipped the pages, making the right noises in (mostly) the right places (his rendition of 'stumble trip' is particularly cute) and, each and every time he found it, squealing with delight when he got to the page with the titular bear.

"I swear, daddy, if this bear starts anything, I'm going to go all Leonardo DiCaprio on him"

Finally it was time for bed; ET clambered up the stairs and once we'd finally negotiated with him enough that he'd let us change him and brush his teeth, he scurried into bed. I started reading the book. He looked on with wonder in his eyes, giggling as I made the 'swishy swooshy' grass noise, or saying 'silly daddy' at my overzealous 'splish splosh' river noises. As the book continued, I noticed he was becoming increasingly agitated, however, and by the time we'd got to the swirling snow storm, dark wood and deep cave, he'd stopped participating and was just looking at me wide-eyed. As I started to read aloud the page where the family of intrepid explorers finally find the bear, he pulled the duvet up over his head and instantly began crying! Perplexed, I sat the book down and asked ET what was wrong. He was clearly scared - unusual for him - but surely he wasn't frightened of this beloved book, one he's heard read countless times before? By the time I'd settled him all thoughts of continuing the story had gone and he eventually drifted off to sleep.

Later than night, in that awkward period when you've started to fall asleep but you're also kind of awake, ET awoke, screaming and crying out for daddy. I went in and, though it took some time, managed to settle him. It was clear he'd had a nightmare; something that has been happening with increasing regularity for no apparent reason and I could only assume was related to the story.

Two nights later it was my turn to put him to bed again. I asked him what story he wanted me to read, expecting him to say A Squash and a Squeeze (his personal favourite) or Room on the Broom (he likes the dragon), but instead he was insistent that he wanted me to read 'Bear Hunt' again. I cautiously began reading the story, being careful not to go too over the top with my sound effects. Once again he became increasingly and visibly perturbed as we approached the page where the bear is, at last, discovered in its cave and, once again, he dived under the covers and began wailing and crying as I described the bear. Nothing would calm him; not daddy cuddles, not mummy cuddles, not singing. Nothing, that is, until, fresh out of ideas, I started telling the book off for being naughty. This perked him up a bit. He even joined in.

So pleased was I with this revelation that, in my hubris, I simply flung the book out of the door and onto the landing (where, incidentally, it almost hit the dog as he walked past). ET was shocked. He looked at me, eyes wide and mouth agape. Then he laughed. Through the tears and the snot, he laughed. He picked up his copy of Squash and a Squeeze and flung it with all his might (I didn't comment on the fact it only landed about a foot away). I had to remove all books from arms reach to ensure he was unable to chuck them as his giggled and bounced in his bed as I tried to quiet him and settle him down for the evening. Eventually he fell asleep.

Tonight I asked if he wanted me to read stories or sing to him. He looked at me with a mischievous gleam in his eye, threw a card-backed Mister Tumble book at me and said 'more throw stories, daddy!'.

I fear I've created a monster...

The offending article. Not pictured: slightly annoyed dog who was nearly hit in the head by a flying book.


No comments

Post a Comment

© The Working Dad | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template by pipdig