When I was in grade school, like a number of little girls in my class, I was obsessed with cutesy little stationary things, often with Sanrio characters: novelty erasers, miniature notebooks, an assortment of pencil pouches, adorable (and elaborately designed) pencil sharpeners, etc. We were easily amused back then before the internet-at-your-fingertips-anywhere age!
Anyway, the different girls in my class varied in their preference of characters. The most popular girl in class loved a character named “Spottie Dottie” and had everything from several backpacks to socks bearing the character’s likeness. Her best friend liked Pochacco, and mine liked Keroppi the Frog.
As for me, while I’ve always had a fondness for Hello Kitty – at some point in my early 20’s it reached full-fledged obsession – in elementary school there was a different character that I wanted plastered over all my school girl things.
If it had a name I didn’t know it. To be honest, I don’t even think it was licensed by Sanrio, as I’ve yet to see this character’s merchandise being sold at the Sanrio store (though it could just have been discontinued since the early 90’s (not that I’ve even been in the Sanrio store for several years now, so for all I know it’s their newest top-selling character. But then, wouldn’t I see kids wearing it or something? I really got to stop interrupting my own train of thought like this. )).
Little notebook with Ballerina Bear on it.
I named it Ballerina Bear. You know, since it’s a bear wearing ballet shoes. And doing what I imagined were ballet-ish moves.
Back then I wanted all things with Ballerina Bear. I had worked up a sizable collection of Ballerina Bear items by the time that I switched schools after 5th grade. The kids at my new school were just too sophisticated for things like cutesy stationary items or even playing at recess – excuse me, break time – so back then, rather than face (even more) bullying at school I left all my Ballerina Bear stuff at home. Out of sight truly is out of mind because I soon all but forgot about my favorite character.
What remains of my Ballerina Bear collection.
It’s funny that the character I gravitated toward was Ballerina Bear since I never so much as took one ballet class as a kid.
So the other day as I was going through stuff from my childhood in the closet, I came across a few remaining Ballerina Bear things that have made it with me through all these moves and all these years. Pretty cool, but it got me thinking, am I old?
It’s odd because I certainly don’t feel old. In fact, I’m in the best shape of my life and confident that I can keep up with an 18 year-old when it comes to physical activity. At the same time though, I feel mature and responsible-ish. But I definitely do not feel like a kid either, it feels more like that was a different lifetime ago and now I’m living this life where I get to be young again. It’s really hard to explain.
Then I realized that it’s just that I don’t feel like how I imagined being old would feel. The way that my child mind – with a child’s reasoning – took in the way other people (adults) viewed adulthood, saw their actions and thought “I never want to be that way! Always serious, always frowning, always tired, it seems like always miserable!” If that is adulthood, I know that I don’t feel that way at all.
As I was driving home today my car’s CD player malfunctioned and I was left listening to FM radio. And all the stations that play “classics” were playing stuff from when I was in high school. And all I could think was everything around me is getting old.
But I still don’t feel it.
Close-ups (sorta) of Ballerina Bear stuff. I remember the day I got the box above, I was sooo excited. Tried taking my lunch in it to school until the box’s cardboard frame collapsed under the weight.
And if anyone knows this character’s “real” name, I would love to be filled in. Until then, she remains Ballerina Bear.