An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: This mother is grinning and bearing it

News broke the other day that, after months in hibernation, Grouse Mountain’s resident grizzly bears had awakened.

The two bears, Grinder and Coola, emerged from their den at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife on April 29 after spending 170 days hunkered down.

Just before I wrote this column, I worked on a story about the first bears of the season being spotted out and about in various corners of the Cowichan Valley. (The story reminded people to not attract them by putting their garbage out too early and whatnot.)

After reading and writing about all this bear stuff, all I can think of is: man, am I jealous. Those giant creatures stuffed their bellies full and then went and crashed for an extra-long nap. Almost six months of rest!

What I wouldn’t give to eat my fill and then turn off the world for a long while. I’m pretty sure most moms would say the same thing. It’s not a slight on dads… it’s just that by the time you read this, Mother’s Day will have come and gone and I’m a mom so that’s just the lens I’m looking through today.

Now, I don’t think Grinder and Coola have cubs, but my question, in general, would be how do they get those babies to sleep that long? If I thought I could even get them to sleep in past 6:30 a.m. by chucking a fresh-caught salmon and just-harvested berries at my kids until their little bellies poked out from beneath their shirts let me tell you, I’d be wading into the river and swatting at fish right now believe you me!

The closest I get to feeling snug and cozy like a bear in their den is family reading time.

It has no doubt been the biggest silver lining of the entire COVID-19 pandemic for my little family. My regular readers will know that we began reading chapter books as a family in March 2020 instead of having separate bedtime reading routines for each child. Since then we have made our way through the entire Roald Dahl boxed set collection (16 books), the Magic Misfits series (we’re waiting on the release of the fourth and final book), and most recently all five books in The Penderwicks series. We were all so sad to see the end of that series.

Not long ago we began reading a title called The Wild Robot. It’s the first novel by award-winning American author Peter Brown. We’ve had to take a break in reading at the request of our kids because they’re still busy processing some big feelings that came about in the most recent chapters.

Ironically, bears figured in on the plot in dramatic fashion when, without giving too much away, they destroyed one of the robots hunting across an island forest in search of Rozzum unit 7134, the main character (also a robot).

OK, there might be spoilers here. You’ve been warned.

Anyway, Roz, protagonist in this tale, had befriended all of the forest’s inhabitants and when the recovery robots came to bring her back to the factory to be reset and reassigned, the animals fought back.

Well, the bears battled to destroy one of the “bad guy” robots, getting pretty banged up in the process. The other animals in the forest worked to all-but disassemble another “bad guy”, but the third, well, after a lengthy encounter, the third managed to capture our poor Roz, but during the struggle, both of the wild robot’s arms and legs were pulled from her body.

Now, we’ve read about Roald Dahl piloting fighter planes in the Second World War. We’ve read about the parents of the boy in The Witches dying in a car crash; in fact most of the parent(s) in Dahl’s books suffered untimely demises — it’s the only way they were able to have the adventures they did! We’ve read about a mom with cancer and the death of a beloved pet in The Penderwicks. We read about hard things. We tackle tough stuff. We’ve found this to be a really good way for the kids to learn about big feelings in a safe space. But the dismemberment of a robot.

No thank you.

The idea that the book’s main character is now nothing but a head and torso isn’t cool, even if she is just a robot that we all know will be rebuilt by the end of the novel. There is a sequel after all.

Written for kids aged 8-11, so says the description, The Wild Robot may be a little much for our younger kids but we’ll get back to it eventually. It’s too good a story not to finish. And the snuggles are too great not to continue. Even if it never seems to end in a the long hibernation this mother would catch a salmon with her bare hands to have.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all you moms and caregivers out there. I know I don’t need to say belated, because it’s an everyday kinda gig. And let’s be honest, between COVID and motherhood, nobody really knows what day it is anymore anyway.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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