Ed is unable to write today. He's suffering from fatigue induced from too many exciting outings accompanied by children and cuddly toys. I'll be sharing my thoughts with you instead. My name is Ted.
Fred the Ted.
I'm visiting Marie from school. Each of the Primary 1 children is taking a turn to have me home for the weekend so I can write about it in my diary and then share my experiences with the rest of the class. As you may have guessed, I'm a bear. I'm about eight inches high, brown and fluffy. I normally wear shorts and a sombrero that's very easy to lose.
I'm not the first cuddly toy that has visited Ed's house. Every year he had a child in nursery, a different plush play-thing came to stay. I'm following in the footsteps of Pam the Lamb, Pat the Cat, Lucky the Ducky, Hurtle the Turtle, Dog the Frog, Frog the Dog and (the somewhat unfortunate) Floodle the Poodle. Since the nursery is just down the corridor from the Primary 1 classroom, I've ended up in the same storage cupboard with them on occasion. During the long summer months, we sat around playing poker, sniffing felt-tip pens and trying to find a way round the website filter on the school's computers. On occasion, as we brewed moonshine in a forgotten corner of the art room, they filled me in on what to expect from some of the families I was likely to stay with this year.
When I was handed to Marie ten days ago at the beginning of the school holidays for an extra long visit, I was heartily relieved. Some of the places I've been have had such bad reviews, I've had to cross my paws and hope to come back in one piece without a coating of jam and cat hair. In contrast, my friends have all been quick to jump in with positive comments about Ed's house whenever it's come up in conversation. (Except poor Floodle, of course - he won't be jumping anywhere anymore, God rest his stuffing. I told him stoking a barbecue with lighter fluid is a bad move when you're ninety percent polyester...)
Ed had thought he was done with little visitors once his children left nursery. He wasn't too thrilled to discover the introduction of the scheme in Primary 1, particularly as it's not just me. After Christmas, he'll be able to look forward to Lana the Iguana coming to stay. (Which will be a real barrel of laughs, I can tell you. 'Lana' is actually a rather camp chameleon called Brian who's more than a little bit bitter about the whole need for a rhyming name thing. Don't give him any moonshine after midnight whatever you do - he'll be singing Celine Dione songs into your shoulder until way, waaaay past bedtime.)
Ed wouldn't mind the visits if it weren't for the diaries. They always seem to have got out of hand by the time they reach his house. Take my own experience this year as an example:
Everything started nice and relaxed with a couple of quiet weekends spent with Tom and Carla. Then, the next week, Lucy's family just happened to have some horse riding planned and took me along. When Charlotte read about that, she insisted her parents come up with something equally impressive for me to do. We all went to the museum and to the cinema and she stuck the tickets in the diary. William's family had to include pictures of our trip to the farm in order to keep up. Then they took me to the soft-play just to make sure.
Ever since, my life has been a non-stop whirl of parties, special events and hastily arranged outings. Jack's dad put the video of me eating lunch on a roller coaster up on YouTube.
Ed is feeling pressure to compete.
He's taking some consolation from the fact that not all of my experiences have been entirely good ones. Malcolm's scary mum, Karen, dressed me up as a gnome and posted me to her cousin in Lapland. The pictures of me with Santa look great but I'm not sure they were worth a two-way trip in a Jiffy bag while wearing a hat with a bell on the end.
That wasn't as bad as when Carlos took me to the zoo and fed me to a gorilla, though. As the photos of Caitlin's trip to Centre Parcs show, the ordeal was enough to mysteriously change my colour, size and shape by the following weekend...
Of course, Ed knows better than to get caught up in the craziness of trying to out-do other parents. He simply can't be bothered. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of reading my diary to Marie on the first night of my visit. Having been reminded of all the fun things her friends got to do when I came to stay, her expectations have been raised. She's suggesting a quick trip to Disneyland.
We haven't got quite that far yet but it might not be long.
Now Marie's five, she's started at one of those uniformed organisations where girls get to wear matching sweatshirts and bake biscuits. As a special treat for joining, the leaders gave her Claire the Bear to bring home, complete with her own diary. Ed tried his best to look pleased but didn't really manage. He's been somewhat distracted since, organising expeditions while simultaneously trying to keep me and Claire apart in case we attempt to breed.
Two diaries to fill and an entire week without school (combined with the threat of baby bears) has weakened his resolve. Any moment now, he could go crazy, give way to the peer pressure and book an outlandish excursion simply to have something to write about. We could all be on a plane to Bermuda tomorrow if I play my Pooh sticks right. (Heck, I don't mind spending the trip in a Jiffy bag if I get to share...) All I need to do is find some way to push him over the edge and I'll be off to the sun.
Once I've sent this, I think I'll hide some fridge magnets in his laptop...
Yours (in memory of Floodle),