Death To Oopsy

I'm not a big fan of Care Bears. No - allow me to rephrase that sentiment. I hate Care Bears. All those rainbows, and the cuteness and the hugging. It's a world, I believe, the politically vocal, Hollywood A-listers imagine occurring in the event the candidate they are stumping for is elected President. Housing crisis in America? We need Share Bear to get those mean 'ol lenders to share their money with those poor people who in no way should be buying a home. Economy down the tubes and you're out of work? I know! Cheer Bear will help make you feel all better with her happy slogans and optimistic vision of an uncertain future. Oh, and that terrible war in the Middle East? If we deploy Funshine Bear into action, those radical fundamentalists will be sure to stop be-heading American infidels once they see how much more fun playing games can be instead. Funshine my left eyeball.

As I'm saying all of this, you should know, my stepdaughter Avery has a love of Care Bears bordering on the psychotic. There's not a one she doesn't own, not a cartoon she hasn't seen, and still she can't get enough of them. My understanding of the original intent behind the Care Bears (besides bilking millions of dollars from parents who want to buy their kid's love) was that they were to help children understand and express certain emotions constructively. I think the experiment failed horribly and my stepdaughter is all the proof one would need to agree with me.

Cast of Characters
Take Share Bear for example, whose purpose is to teach kids about, what else, sharing. For Avery, however, it means something else entirely. Should another child happens to pick up one of Avery's toys, Avery will use Share Bear to pummel the ever-loving sheet-cake out of that poor kid until said toy is back in her possession.

Then there's Funshine Bear who, as mentioned before, likes to play games and clown around with his fellow Care Bear chums. To Avery, somehow these "funshine games" have come to be interpreted as cruel pranks like screaming "WAAAAAAAAAAKE UP!" directly into her napping stepdad's ear or offering her older sister a cup of "fart water" (you can figure it out on your own as I'm not going to give it the dignity of describing it) as they play together during their evening bath.

At the very least I thought I could identify with Grumpy Bear, given his gruff demeanor that hides his underlying heart of gold as he is described in his profile on the official web site. That's not to be the case either as Avery explained how Grumpy Bear taught her how to express displeasure towards adults who don't let her have her way by "flipping them the bird."

Birthday & The Bear
With these examples and many more like them I expressed my deep opposition to giving Avery a Care Bear-themed party for her fifth birthday.

"Oh, you're just being a big ol' Poo Poo Bear," my wife said. "Somebody needs a little hug from a Sexy Momma Bear." And before I knew it she had her arms around me and was making suggestive growling noises in my ear. The gesture did soften my stance on the matter, but not enough for me to let go of my distaste for the furry little bastards especially given the fact Avery had secretly been listening to my tirade and stepped out from behind the corner long enough for only me to see her standing their, right arm extended in my direction emphatically displaying a "Grumpy Bear."

Avery's party went down as planned, and I held my peace so as to not ruin the experience for her. That quite nearly was not the case upon the entrance of the party's main attraction, a real live, walking, mumbling, yellow Care Bear with the image of a cupcake adorning his belly. For us adults it was just some poor teenager making some scratch by parading around for a few minutes in a stuffed costume, but to Avery, the god of all Care Bear land just magically landed two feet from where she was wiping chocolate marble cake from her mug.

The second she locked eyes on that Care Bear, her pupils glazed over and I kid you not, I saw an image of the earth erupting with a billowing mushroom cloud in their reflection. I shudder to think of the horror and destruction behind her eyes as she stood there imagining the possibilities in having a six-foot Care Bear under her control to carry out her bidding.

Of all the cute and cuddly Care Bears in all time and space, the one I despise the most is Oopsy Bear. Oopsy, I supposed, is meant to make kids feel better about awkward moment they might experience in life, but because I wasn't too sure, I checked his profile on line which gave the following description:

Oopsy Bear is very eager to help, but is a bit clumsy. So he's always saying 'Oopsie!' But his friends love him just the way he is. He's also special - he can draw his own belly badge to express how he's feeling.

This was disappointing to me. I didn't like the expectation this set for kids in facing their own screw-ups later on in life. For some reason I kept picturing some oaf of a frat boy who just found out that the girl he got drunk and slept with at the last keg party was his twin sister separated from him at birth, but since he grew up with an Oospy Bear, no one will need therapy and everyone would still accept him because, hey, these things happen. Oopsie!

As the great Care Bear gods would have it, Avery received, not one, but two of these damnable bears, and it hasn't taken long for her to take on the namesake's associated traits. To Avery, who is not only so cute she makes puppies look like yapping, cancerous tumors, but also so clumsy she trips over the cracks in linoleum, the idea of marrying these two traits into the form of a huggable stuffed animal was a message from heaven signifying her purpose in life.

Who's An Oospy Bear?
Now Avery fills the hours by intentionally making mistakes and having accidents. As I cleaned up a trail of soggy cereal that laid a path from the table to the sink, I asked Avery why she had made such a big mess.

"Because I'm Oospy," she said shrugging her shoulders and grinning adorably. "When I make a mess, you should call me Oospy."

I didn't get what was going on at first, but had I figured it out I would have nipped it in the bud right then and there. Instead, my time was taken up moving from one little mess to another. Half-eaten ice cream sandwich melting on the couch cushions. Oopsie! Doll clothes flushed down the toilet causing it to stop up. Oopsie! The freshly minted turd of a 5 year-old laying sweetly on the stairs. Oopsie!

Finally, I had enough as I watched Avery turn her full cup of milk upside down at lunch. "Avery! That is it!" I growled.

She looked at me with one of those sneering smiles you see the evil TV lawyers flash when they've just made one of those assertions that paints the innocent victim to look like a fool, thus virtually guaranteeing the acquittal of their guilty client. "But I'm Oopsy and when Oopsy makes messes you can'ts not love me no more."

In her mind it was like diplomatic immunity. She could spill, dump or defile anything she wanted and no one could be mad at her because that's just who she is, and she has the Oospy Bear - no, two Oopsy Bears to prove it. It was at this point, I spent the next ten minutes rebutting her argument with an explanation that goofing up once in a while is fine, but doing your best to impersonate the recent recipient of a full, frontal lobotomy would probably land her in a lab somewhere with people poking at her with long, sharp needles for the rest of her life.

"And because I love you so much and I don't want this to happen to you," I continued. "I'm going to take away your Oopsy Bears every time you make a mess on purpose."

"But you can'ts do that," Avery said, her eyes still a little wide from the thought of the needs.

"And why not?"

"Because mommy put them in trash bags to clean them in the washer," she replied.

Trash bags? I thought. Didn't I just take a few extra sacks out to the dumpster this morning? Oopsie!

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