The Drama King was always a smart cookie.
He'd like you to think that he was a tough cookie as well, but truthfully, his smarts are mostly book and not-so-much street.
As a baby, he walked late but talked early. When he was barely 22 months old, he picked up a plastic car and two Care Bear figurines, looked up and grinned at me.
"I go for a ride with Grumpy Bear and Cheer Bear," he chirped, clear as a bell.
I laughed out loud. His older brother, Drummer Preschooler, didn't put a complex sentence together until well after he was 3 and wasn't completely understandable until almost 4, so my second child -- a mini-talkathon -- was both unusual and refreshing to this then-young mother.
This was a loooong time ago. DK is well into his mid-20s now. My stroll down memory lane was triggered by a recent trip to our local Costco, where I found something on the shelf that took me back to those days.
Back past today's happier times, back beyond the dark years, back to a toddler with a head full of dark curls, pinchable cheeks and chocolate brown eyes.
DK was about 2 1/2. At that time, my ex used to take nearly 5-year-old Drummer Boy and do ... whatever ... on Saturdays, leaving DK and me to find our own fun stuff to do. Sometimes we ended up in a local area where there was an old-fashioned toy store.
It was named after the founder and run by his widow, who LOVED for the Drama King and me to drop by because he was such a source of amusement with his dancing eyes and ever-expanding vocabulary.
She would reminisce about her late husband and how he ran the business. I would talk about raising children in the '80s. She and I would watch my toddler son play with trains and the block displays and listen to him chatter.
Then one day he saw it. Up above him, on a relatively high shelf, was a bear.
The bear -- surreptitiously activated by the toy store widow -- moved his mouth and spoke.
And the Drama King stopped dead in his tracks and crouched down, clasping his hands together.
"Da bear," he said breathlessly. "Da bear is TALKING!!!
"Da bear!" he continued. "Da bear is SINGING!!!!"
He looked at me, his eyes wider than I ever remembered.
"I LIKE it!!"
The toy store widow and I laughed until we cried.
That bear -- Teddy Ruxpin -- was among his birthday presents when he turned 3. How could we not, when he had spent hours that summer and fall transfixed in a local toy store, watching this magical creature spin stories and sing songs.
That bear -- the talking, singing bear -- told many tales at our house and was well-loved until his inner workings failed.
That bear -- more than 20 years later -- is making a comeback, sitting on the shelves at Costco to transfix other 2-year-olds. He looks just the same, but the inner workings are totally 21st century, leaving the poor 1980s Teddy in the dust.
That bear -- and the memory of the first day he met my boy -- makes me smile.