About a week ago, I went into Queen Teen's room to tuck her in and found Hug Bear on the floor. I picked up the soft, matted, lumpy teddy-bear she's slept with since she was 5 and put it back in the bed with her.
Two nights ago I helped her climb into bed with her books and while I tucked the blankets around her I noticed Hug Bear wasn't on the bed. I secretly scanned the floor, even checking under the bed, but there was no sign of him. Rather than say anything to Queen Teen about her missing, favorite bear, I left her to her books. When I went back to cover her up for lights out, I waited for the question, "Where's Hug Bear?" She didn't say anything.
Yesterday I noticed she had moved her Disneyland dolls onto the bed (baby Belle, Little Cinderella and Rosetta the Fairy). I was still puzzled about Hug Bear. Where was he, and why wasn't Queen Teen asking about him? She's never been able to sleep without him; in fact when she left him at her dad's house one time she cried every night until her dad mailed him back to her. When she was in the hospital for her feet surgery Hug Bear never left her arms. And he has been a constant companion during every doctor's appointment for the last 9 years.
While putting her sweater away, I found Hug Bear. He was shoved into a cubby with the other dolls she doesn't play with but doesn't want to give up. Hug Bear was unceremoniously stuffed in with Sally, the Russian rag doll she got when she was 2; Magenta and Blue, Pooh Bear, Little Bear, Emily, the four stuffed dogs and Dirga the kitty who purrs when you squeeze her tummy.
I stared at that stuffed bear as if I had found a bag of weed in her room. The day had finally come: Queen Teen no longer needed Hug Bear.
She had decided on her own that she didn't need to sleep with Hug Bear anymore and hadn't said a word to me, so I didn't ask her. But the thought of her most treasured stuffed bear hanging alone in a cubby on the back of her door makes me very, very sad, even though I know her giving up her bear is a good thing. She's growing up, gaining skills and maturity, becoming more of herself and not a child. I'm excited for her, but sad at the same time. I will miss that little girl.