My daughter has had for some unspecified period of time two twin stuffed bears called Billy and Billy. I don’t recall from whom we received these bears or how they became known as the Billy Bears, but one or the other of them has been dragged with my daughter on every adventure she’s had in recent memory. More specifically, they’ve been dragged through her adventures, picking up all kinds of muck and dirt on the way.
Now, I’m not particularly offended by dirty stuffed animals. Prior to the Billys tenure with us, I would simply throw the offending animal or doll into the wash after the child had gone to bed and put it back before she woke.
With the arrival of the Billys, however, there have been several obstacles to this approach.
- “Noooooo Daddy! Not my Billy!” - My daughter will not allow the Biillys to be bathed in her sight. Assuming, that like her, they dread the water, she protects them with the fierceness of a mother bear.
- “Noooooo! Don’t take Billy!” - My daughter has developed the uncanny ability to wake instantly if one of the Billys is removed from her bed.
- “Don’t take Billy's Spiderman Band Aid!” - During her infatuation with Disney band aid stage, she festooned the Billys with Band aids. FESTOONED - They are simply covered head to foot and look as if they ought be rescued by New Jersey Bear Services.
Tonight though, she let down her guard and left one of the Billy’s on the first floor of the house.
I was not at first aware of Billy's presence. I went about my evening business: cleaning the kitchen, sorting the mail, plucking the toys out of the dishwasher (its fixed - Hooray!). And then I caught sight of him - more accurately, I caught sight of something.
“What the... Aaahhh!,” he was bunched up in the corner of the kitchen. With his little bear face against the wall, his matted fur and brown color made him look like something fierce and feral and rodent like that didn't belong in my kitchen. We’ve had mice, but this guy was big.
“Are you all right?” my wife shouted down urgently from the bedroom, “Are you hurt?”
“Fine,” I tried to say calmly, wondering if I was fine and what I was going to do if the thing moved or bared it's teeth.
"Oh, for the love of," When I realized my mistake, I picked up the little creature and set him on the countertop.
He was looking like a pretty sorry little soul, bandaged and dirty as he was.
“Billy,” I said in my most polite tone, “In perfect truth, you are the filthiest little vagrant I’ve ever seen. It’s a sign of how much I love my little girl that I allow you at all.”
I’ve spent the last hour trying to put him through Billy Bear rehab.
• I’ve hand washed him several times.
• I’ve steamed the band aids off his little fur.
• I’ve bathed him in boiling water from the tea pot.
• I’ve scrubbed him with a brush that I use to scrub the deck.
I’m nearly satisfied with him. Billy looks better.
He won’t look much like a twin though when I put him next to his brother in the morning. They’re going to look more like Good Billy and his Evil and very Dirty Twin Brother. And I’m not sure after she sees the damage I’ve done to the loving adornments that Good Billy no longer has, that my daughter will ever let the other out of her sight.
But it’s good to know that I’ve done my good deed today. I helped a bear get clean.
“Billy, Billy, Billy ... oh Billy!”