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  • Valérie Besanceney

Sacred Objects

This week, together with two fabulous experts on relocation, I will be giving a presentation on how to support children during transitions. While preparing for this, I was rereading Ruth Van Reken’s foreword to B at Home. Among other things, she suggests “allowing the child to carry ‘sacred objects’ to connect their worlds”.

For me, that was B, my trusted teddy bear. There is something incredibly comforting in still having this bear. Even though the remaining patches and two bright orange eyes of the original B are sewn onto another teddy bear, B simply still ‘is’. He has always traveled with me everywhere, and is a reminder of everything I have held and hold dear in my life these past 37 years.

Needless to say, it melts my heart when our two young daughters play with him, lovingly hug him, and excitedly call him ‘Beeeeee!’. Admittedly, it also makes me feel slightly nervous and protective of him when they tug hard at one of his bright orange eyes, barely holding on with some remaining threads. However, not only do I love that they adore him, I also treasure the fact that they do not (yet) distinguish between ‘old’ and ‘new’. They play as happily with my old Fisherprice telephone and my husband’s old Buzzy Bee as they do with their recently gifted Duplo.

The other day, my father gave the girls his old teddy bears to play with. Both bears were given to him on the day he was born. As we came to the conclusion that together they are 150 years old, one person kindly referred to them as ‘antiques’. Luckily, to the amusement of my (not antique) father. Both our girls enjoy playing with them and think they are ‘so cute’, despite their loved raggedness. Or perhaps because of that.

The bears have traveled with my father and his once ‘sacred objects’ simply still ‘are’. And now, they are being passed on to his grandchildren. Luckily, thanks to my mother, they are also freshly bathed. I bet they, too, would have quite some stories to share about relocation! They’ve traveled all the way from the Netherlands to Indonesia and back, came along on many another move, and are currently retiring in the Swiss Alps.

Two bears who share so much history together, drying in the sun from their first bath in many, many years (or first ever?).

How I wish these bears could speak! I can just imagine the conversations they might be having, sitting on the balcony, overlooking the Dents-du-Midi!

Ruth is right, ‘sacred objects’ connect our worlds together. Not only our worlds, but our families and friends as well. May many people follow her advice, and may many bears continue to remind us of our travels, moves, and loved ones!


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