The Build A Bear experience

As experienced and written by a 30 something year old woman.

I spent five days in Leeds recently visiting a very good friend of mine. While in the White Rose shopping center, we walked by a Build A Bear shop. Usually, I just walk by, giving it a small glance. Being from the states, I was well aware of the existence of BAB. However, something caught my eye. As we passed by the shop, my eyes went directly to the bright eyed, rainbow haired horse in the window, my childhood laid out before me in BAB form. Right there, in splendid pink and blue cotton candy colors, were two My Little Ponies, ready for us to stuff and love. At that moment, my mind was decided. I would be back to that shop, with my friend, and we would have the BAB experience together. I had been into a BAB store dozens of times, but nothing called out to me to be stuffed and taken home. That is, not until that day.

pinkponyA few days later, we walked into the store. It was a gift I wanted to give to myself, as well as my friend. She chose the pink pony, I went with the blue one, mostly because it was a pegasus, but it also reminded me of a My Little Pony I had as a child. I was a My Little Pony girl as a child, not a Barbie girl. I suppose my working with animals today is no surprise, but I digress.

The associate, after having finished building a bear for a little girl, approached us and asked if we’d like to build a bear. We enthusiastically said yes. After choosing our pony “skins” we walked over to the stuffing machine. The associate was so enthusiastic about giving us our first BAB experience. We explained that this was a girlie bonding thing for the both of us. My pony was first to be stuffed. She directed me to put my foot on the machine’s pedal and she began stuffing my pony as we all blueponychatted. Once my pony was stuffed she handed it to me so that I could feel if it was stuffed according to how I wanted it. What surprised me immediately, was how warm my blue pony was. I was unaware of how warm the spinning stuffing within the machine actually got. It was like my little pony was a warm being in my arms.

After my friend had her experience at stuffing her pink pony, the “heart ceremony” took place. With the BAB experience, comes the selection of a little fabric heart that you pick and place within your stuffed friend, essentially, giving it a heart. My friend and I decided to choose each others’ hearts and make a wish upon them for the other. After we each selected a heart for the other, the associate went through a little ceremony that involved placing the heart within our hands and warming it up. We then made a wish for each other on these hearts. I placed the heart for my friend within her pink pony and she did the same for my blue pony.

The heart ceremony itself could appear to be silly to anyone watching, but to us, it was a special moment. It was two friends bonding over a shared experience and wishing each other well in life. Today, as I look at my little blue pony friend, there is a sense of warmth and love knowing that within her is a tiny fabric heart, carefully wished upon and placed by my friend. Back in the UK, there is a pink pony that has had a fabric heart placed within her and wished upon by me.

After our little ponies were stitched up, it was time to pick out some accessories. My friend picked out a glittery shirt and I went with a yellow cape. We were once again helped by the associate to pick out the right outfit for our ponies at the “fitting rooms”.

Once the articles of clothing were sorted, it was time to go to the naming station. This process took us some time to complete. Not because it was hard to register our ponies on the computer, but because choosing the right name was very difficult. My friend and I had much fun typing in our info for our pony “birth certificates”, but the name part was difficult. My friend had an easier time naming her pony, but a name just wouldn’t come for my own. In the end, I settled for the name “Jewel”, today however, a more proper name popped into my head. She is now called “Ellie”.

Finally, it was time to box up our friends and take them to their forever homes.

When I look back on that day, it will always be with fond memories. It was exactly what I wanted it to be. I paid for a bonding experience between my friend and I. We were able to be kids again. We were able to laugh and giggle and share precious moments. I have a reminder of that special day with me forever and it’s in the shape of a cotton candy blue pegasus, with rainbow hair and wide pink eyes, with a special heart inside dearly wished upon and carefully placed by someone special in my life.

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© Semi-Charmed Life


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