Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Boris the bear

Boris is a bear. 
My son Oscar's bear.
He’s had him since he was one, I can’t remember who bought him for him, but he has been a constant companion since that day. 
I can’t even remember why he is called Boris – I don’t know if Oscar himself named him, or it was chosen for him as a tribute to the Mayor of London, or the Russian President from the early nineties. There is no real resemblance to either, although the London Mayor Boris has the reputation of being as woolly headed as the bear Boris, I’m sure the naming of the bear wasn’t Oscar’s first attempt at satire though.

When Oscar was around three he suddenly gave Boris a voice (The bear, not the Mayor or Ex Russian President), the only way I can explain Boris’ voice is a high pitched but growly, which I suppose is exactly how you would expect a small bear to talk, if small bears could indeed talk.
“Would you like any ice cream Oscar?”
“Yes please.”
“Me too.” said ‘Boris’ from behind me as I reached into the freezer.
I turned to Oscar, "I'm not going to get an extra scoop of ice cream out for Boris."
"Why not?" Oscar looked at me, puzzled.
He caught me off guard, and I answered without thinking, without realising what I was about to say.
"Well, because Boris isn't real, he's not really going to eat ice-cream."
I saw the look in his eyes and knew, I'd broken the spell, I'd ruined the game we were both playing, or supposed to be playing.
I tried to back-track immediately, trying to repair that hurt, paper over the cracks caused by why I had just said, after all it was really sweet when he made Boris talk.
"I mean, I'm just not sure bears like ice cream that's all." he nodded, but I could see that he was upset.
I hoped I hadn't heard the last of Boris' voice, the guilt weighed heavily on me after I said goodnight.

Two weekends later I was talking to Oscar again, as we drove home I watched in the mirror, Boris sat on Oscar's lap, but so far no voice.
"So who fancies ice cream today?"
"Me" Oscar said excitedly.
"Boris?" I asked, tentatively, waiting, hoping that I would hear that voice, that all would be okay again, and that I hadn't ruined this for Oscar forever.
"Yes please."said a growly high pitched voice from behind me.
I quietly celebrated, never had I been so happy to hear a bears pretend voice before in my life. I hadn't traumatised my son for life after all.
We got home and had the first of a new weekend tradition, Oscar had a bowl of ice cream, Boris had a bowl of ice cream. Once Oscar had finished his I always made an excuse to leave the room, and on returning marvelled at how clever Boris was for eating his bowl of ice cream too.

Then one Sunday we sat at the table, Oscar, me, my Mum and Dad, and of course Boris, sat on his own chair at his own place at the table, next to Oscar.
We'd eaten our dinner and my mum appeared with the ice cream tub. 
"I'll dish up." I said, and got an extra bowl out for Boris.
I passed Oscar his bowl, and looking at Boris asked 
"Would Boris like some too?"
Oscar looked at me and frowned, before shooting a concerned look at my parents. 
"Dad, you do realise Boris isn't real don't you?"