Someone - probably Arthur - had introduced Aida to the ‘Teddy-Bears’ Picnic’ song, and ever since, Martin and Theresa’s lives had been soundtracked almost constantly by their daughter singing the chorus, over and over again. Nobody was saying it wasn’t adorable - but by the seven thousandth rendition, it was getting a little tired, to say the least.
Matters were only compounded by Douglas recommending, in the young princess’s earshot, a little wood on the outskirts of Fitton - visible from Douglas’s house - and perfect, he claimed, for teddy-bears’ picnics.
“I hear they like Saturdays best,” he said, casually. “That’s if you’re interested in that sort of thing.”
Aida was definitely interested, and so off they went, that Saturday, all four of them: Martin carrying the picnic basket, Theresa carrying the baby, and Aida carrying Toby, the large stuffed bear Arthur had given her when she was tiny. He was still so large in comparison to his five-year-old owner that she had trouble seeing in front of her as she walked, but refused any and all offers of help.
They had a pleasant walk through the woods, with baby Carlos cooing happily and Aida chatting amiably to Toby (addressing him by his full name, Toblerone, when the discussion became more serious). Then, they came to the clearing Douglas had mentioned, and found, to Martin and Theresa’s surprise and Aida’s unbounded delight, a group of bears, all shapes and sizes, gathered around a rather enormous picnic blanket. Each bear had a little plate in front of its paws, and the hamper in the centre was overflowing with food.
“Wow!” exclaimed Aida, running over. “Uncle Douglas was right! It’s really real!”
Martin and Theresa looked suspiciously around, but saw nobody… until there was a ruffle in the bushes opposite, and Arthur emerged, followed by Douglas, both grinning madly.
“Fancy seeing you here,” said Douglas grandly.
“I can’t believe…” Martin said, still gazing around. “Thank you, Douglas, this is really… lovely.”
“Well,” said Douglas, shrugging, as the others took their places between bears, around the edge of the blanket. “Since you have the indecency to move back to Liechtenstein tomorrow, I thought it was only fair that we make you feel very, very guilty about it, by being extra nice.”
Martin hummed. It was going to be difficult, moving back after a blissful three months on his old soil - but that was how it had to be. They had always known it would be temporary - Theresa still had responsibilities, and he had his job. Aida needed to start school. There was no getting around it. “She’ll remember this forever, you know,” he said, watching Aida pour an imaginary cup of tea for Toby, who was now perched between two bears Martin vaguely recognised from Arthur’s bedroom.
She seemed to sense him watching her, and looked up. She patted the piece of blanket next to her. “Come and sit down, Daddy. We need to sing the song before we start.”
And thus, the umpteenth chorus was sung: for every bear that ever there was…
He couldn’t imagine how he’d ever thought the words were tired.