Johan’s Fathers’ Day
The first early morning sunrays nudged their way through the folding drapes of a badly drawn pair of curtains and teased their way onto the yawning face of Little Teddy, who laid asleep on his astro-bunny bed. He knew that Sunday was a special day, for Johan had been reminding him all week but he simply couldn’t recall what was so special about this Sunday: after all, the early morning sun was making his eyes squint in exactly the same way as it did yesterday.
He leant over to the calendar that Johan kindly placed by his bedside, to help him make sense of the passing days. The exposed sheet of the calendar showed a black stroke and a black tadpole sitting side-by-side and Teddy remembered to rip this carefully off, in the way that Johan showed him, to expose a fresh sheet with other black lines on – this would be sure to assist him to understand that a whole day had passed and that another day of new adventures was awaiting him.
Teddy tugged at the upper sheet and carefully pulled it away from the calendar to expose a fresh sheet with a black line and a bent black line together. He spotted a small coloured picture of Daddy drawn in the lower corner of the sheet and a distant memory jogged his head and gently eased its way into his consciousness.
“It’s Daddy Day!” yelped Little Teddy, with a gasp of excitement, “I remember now – it’s Daddy Day!”
With a quick cry he leapt out of bed and down into the hall, where Johan was already dressed with his outdoor shoes and woollen hat.
“Shh!” whispered Johan, raising his index finger to his lips, “Be very quiet or you’ll wake Daddy. We’ve got an adventure to tackle before daddy wakes up.”
With that, Johan took his little bears hand and lovingly led him towards the front door and out into the garden. Step-by-step, they made their way to the very edge of Little Teddy’s world, the Garden Gate, and beyond that into new and exciting territories, the Wooded Dell.
“What are we coming here for?” enquired the little bear, his face aglow with excitement and the nervous apprehension that comes from leaving the sanctuary of the back garden. Johan bent down to Teddy’s face and pointed to the ground blanketed with fallen acorns, like spilt jewels from an upturned pirate’s chest.
“It’s Fathers’ Day,” he replied with a contented smile, “and today we need to make Daddy a special present.”
He bent down and carefully inspected a fallen acorn. He raised it to the air and allowed the morning sunshine to sparkle across its glossy crown and exaggerate the intrinsic beauty of such an ordinary mundane object.
“We need to find a perfect acorn,” Johan explained to his little bear, “One that is special, unique and perfect.”
With that, he tossed the acorn to the ground and picked up another, and another, and another. With each acorn, Johan inspected it fully and methodically from every angle. He held it up to the dappled light, which eased its way through the oak foliage, and allowed the sun to caress the chestnut-coloured exterior. Each time, there was some flaw: a subtle mark, an indistinct blemish and incorrect shading. Each time he would toss the acorn to the ground and move onto the next. Little Teddy looked in wonder at his boy and copied his movements, his gestures and his actions. He was determined to assist his boy complete the quest for the perfect acorn, even though he didn’t know exactly what the perfect acorn was.
After an hour of searching Johan found what he was looking for. There was a beautifully formed acorn that lay symmetrically in its crusted case, with the slightest hint of a flawless twig branching out from beneath. The dappled sunlight sneaked its way through the dense oak foliage and danced upon its surface, like a thousand fairy wishes, and the reflection of an innocent boy’s face was captured in its glossy smooth exterior. Johan bent down to his teddy and showed him the beautiful acorn that he had discovered and Little Teddy just looked in awe – it truly was the perfect special acorn for a special father on a special day.
Little Teddy glanced down to the ground where there was a grubby broken acorn half-poked into the softened mud of the ground. He bent down and prised a single claw of his paw into the soft mud and picked it up. The acorn had a deep scratch grooved into its shell and the twig strutted out from the case awkwardly at an obtuse angle. Little Teddy passed it to Johan.
“I think I’ve found the perfect acorn too,” he said expectantly, his eyes glowing and his face beaming. “Wouldn’t Daddy love another acorn too?”
Johan smiled down at his beloved cherished bear in only the way that a small boy could. He took the acorn and wiped a smear of dirt off its shell and held it to the light too. The sunlight bounced abruptly off the discoloured shell and the acorn seemed to groan discordantly within the fingers of the small boy.
“Why, it’s perfect!” exclaimed Johan, “Simply perfect! You are such a wonderful little teddy. Daddy will be so pleased to have both of these.”
Johan smiled down at the expectant face of his teddy and placed the grubby acorn alongside his own, within his pocket. Then he picked the little bear up and hugged him tightly.
“You’re such a special little teddy and I do love you so,” Johan whispered into the ear of his toy and, with that, he carried him back to his home: for it had been a very long walk and the poor little bear was so very tired.
On arriving home, Johan threaded the two acorns onto a shoelace and presented them to his father, who was working in the garden shed. His father laid down his working tools, took the acorn necklace delicately into his hands and placed it around his neck. He didn’t notice how one acorn was mangled and discoloured. He didn’t understand how his little boy has spent many many valuable hours of treasured playtime making him such a special gift. He just knew that he loved his son beyond what words could describe and that he treasured the gesture that his adored boy had performed.
“Thank you Johan – I love do you so,” said Daddy as he took the boy into his arms and hugged him closely.
Little Teddy remained quiet, hanging limply from Johan’s hand. If you had looked closely, as Daddy hugged his son, you might have seen a wink from the teddy bear too for the bear was sure that his acorn was the best.