Dedicated to all of those who are afraid of honey, in whatever form that honey takes . . .
Frederick the Bear: A Children’s Story for Grown-ups
Once upon a time, there was a little bear. His name was Frederick, and he lived in the forest with his father, Charles Bear, and his mother, Leona Bear. Their house was a small house, but it was a nice house. Now Frederick was a good bear most of the time, but like most little bears, he often got himself into trouble. Whenever he did get in trouble, his parents would not let him have honey for an entire day.
On this day, Frederick was in trouble for some reason or other (he wasn’t quite sure why), and he wasn’t allowed to have any honey all day long. This made Frederick very sad because he loved honey. In fact, he loved honey more than anything else in the world. And on this particular day, he really wanted honey. . So he went for a walk, with a plan in mind.
“I’ve watched Father gather honey before, I bet I can do it too,” he said to himself. And he was so excited by the idea, that he began to run through the woods.
He ran and he ran, jumping over roots and ducking under branches with only the energy that little bears have.
“I’m gonna have honey!” he yelled to the squirrel.
“I’m gonna get my own honey!” he shouted at a blue bird.
He was very excited. He was so excited that soon he had run so far into the woods that he didn’t know where he was. All of a sudden the once friendly trees seemed big and scary. But Frederick was a very brave bear, so instead of trying to find his way home, he started looking for honey.
He looked for a long time. The sun started to go down, and poor little Frederick was getting tired. But then, just as the last rays of sunlight were shining, Frederick’s sharp little eyes glanced up and . . .
“A honey nest! I can have honey for my supper!” he cried, once more very excited. But he soon realized that the nest was very high up.
“Well,” he thought aloud, “I can climb trees really high, and although I’ve never gone that high, I bet I can do it. I bet I can!”
But what about the bees that lived in the nest?
“It’s probably their bedtime, so as long as I’m careful and very quiet, I won’t wake them up.”
And so, taking a deep breath, Frederick began to climb the tree. Night had fallen, but the moon was full, so he could clearly see the nest, and he could imagine the taste of the warm, golden, delicious honey. Soon, he was very high from the ground, but being a brave bear, he wasn’t scared. Well, not very scared. But the honey was still far away. So, taking an even deeper breath, he climbed higher and higher and higher, until he was so high that when he looked down he got all dizzy and felt funny in his stomach. He looked up and the honey was so close that he could smell it. So, taking an even deeper breath, he climbed up the rest of way.
Finally, he thought, I will get some honey.
He went to reach in the nest, but as he did, he heard a faint voice, it was his father looking for Frederick.
“I had better hurry and get some honey before I have to come down,” he said to himself.
He thrust his paw into the nest, and he could feel the honey, Oh!, the delicious honey. He pulled his warm sticky paw out and licked at it.
“Ohh, ummm.” he said, “It’s so good!”
He put his little paw back in for more, but this time he felt something crawl onto his hand and . . .
“OUCH!” he cried.
Now, Frederick was not stupid. As soon as he felt the pain of being stung, he immediately started to clamber downthe tree, forgetting that he was so high from the ground.
The bees however were even faster, and by the time poor little Frederick was half way down, he had been stung over and over again. Then, as a bee landed right between his eyes, Frederick, forgetting that he was still pretty high up, swatted at the bee with one paw and slipped . . .
“Ahhhhhh!” he cried in terror as he plunged down, breaking off twigs and bouncing off the bigger branches. Then suddenly, he was caught by a pair of strong, furry arms. Frederick looked up into the worried face of his father, and started to cry.
“Oh Father, Father, I was so scared . . . I,” and he broke into tears once again.
“It’s alright, everything’s alright,” his father replied, hugging Frederick tight, “let’s go home.”
“Yes Father, I want to go home. Oh, it hurts.”
And so they went home, Frederick, brave bear that he was, just cried all the way home.
“Oh, my poor baby,”his mother cried, “what happened?”
“Well . . .” Frederick started between sniffles, “I was running and . . .”
As he told his mother about his adventure, she bathed his stings, put medicine on them, got him into his pajamas, and tucked him into bed by the time he was finished.
“Get some sleep, my wild one, you certainly sound like you need it.”
And Frederick didn’t say anything because as soon as he had stopped talking he had fallen fast asleep.
The next morning, Frederick hurt all over. He could barely get out of bed. So his mother told him to stay in bed and she would bring him some breakfast.
” . . . and you can even have some honey,” she finished with a twinkle in her eyes because she knew that honey would cheer him up.
“I don’t want any,” Frederick said gloomily.
“What?!” His mother cried out in shock and worried surprise.
“I don’t want any honey. I don’t like honey,” Frederick replied a bit angrily.
“Well . . . ok, whatever you say,” his mother muttered and went to make his breakfast . . . without honey.
From then on, Frederick never ate honey. No matter what his parents said, or how his friends teased him, he never ate honey.
“I hate it,” he would yell.
Or, “It’s stupid!”
He was also a sad bear, because somewhere, deep down, he still loved honey. Because that part was hidden and held prisoner, he was not a whole, happy bear.
Then, one day, many years after his parents had died, when he was not a little bear anymore, but a grown up bear, he was cleaning his little house (where he lived all alone), and he heard a voice.
“Help,” someone was yelling, “help me!”
So, of course Frederick, being a kind, if sad bear, went to help.
“I’m coming,” he yelled, and ran toward the voice.
Just a short way from his house was a woman bear stuck under a fallen tree. She was the prettiest bear Frederick had ever seen and immediately he liked her very much.
“Are you all right? Can you walk?” he asked as he lifted the tree up and off her.
“I don’t know. It hurts an awful lot,” she said, gingerly touching her ankle.
“Here, I’ll carry you to my house and we will see what we can do to heal your ankle,” Frederick offered.
“Thank you so much,” she answered, bravely trying to hold back her tears, “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
And so, Frederick picked her up from the ground and slowly carried her to his home where he laid her in his bed and went to make her some soup. His mother had always said that soup would cure anything, well, he didn’t know if it would work this time, but he figured that it wouldn’t hurt.
That night, as the woman bear finished her supper, they both realized that neither of them knew the others name.
“I’m Frederick,” he said.
“I’m Christina,” she said, and they both laughed and talked the night away.
Now Christina was a wandering bear. That meant that she had no home and no one to take care of her (or anyone for her to take care of), so when she told Frederick that she should probably leave and stop bothering him, he insisted that she stay.
So she did.
And they fell in love. (I won’t go into all the sappy stuff that happens when two bears fall in love, although it never seems sappy to those who are falling in love.)
During this time Christina noticed that they never ate honey. When she asked Frederick about it he just said, “I don’t like it,” and would change the subject. Christina found this to be very odd, but she loved Frederick so much that it didn’t bother her. But she did miss honey sometimes.
Time passed. The leaves died and then came to life once again. Frederick and Christina grew more and more in love until Christina, being a truly modern bear, asked Frederick to marry her. His immediate reply was yes, and so they were very happy.
However, as the marriage day got closer and Christina kept talking about all the ceremonies being so beautiful, Frederick was reminded that the most symbolic and revered ceremony in the marriage was to lick honey from your betrothed’s paw. He got very frightened. He would lie awake at night listening to Christina’s breathing through the wall and say to himself, “I can’t do it. I can’t. I hate honey.” And he would cry because he truly loved Christina. He wanted very much to make her happy.
So he tried to convince her to have a marriage without ceremonies . . . and failed.
He tried to convince her to have a New Age wedding . . . and failed.
He tried to run away, but every time his heart would break at the thought of living without his one and only love.
So finally, on the wedding day, he worked himself into a sickness and the wedding was delayed.
And on the next wedding date he did the same thing.
Christina was very worried and hurt by Frederick’s behavior. She thought that he just didn’t want to marry her. She never imagined that he was scared of honey. So when it came to the third wedding date, and Frederick was once again sick, she went to him with tears in her eyes.
“I love you, but I don’t think you really love me. I will leave in the morning.”
And Frederick said nothing. He just thought sad thoughts and cried.
The next morning when Christina awoke, she started to cry because she could not imagine what she would do without her Frederick, but she knew she had to leave.
So she packed.
And she went to the living room and . . .
All her friends were squashed into the tiny room, and there was the preacher bear (looking a little bored, after all, this was the forth time he had gotten ready to do this particular marriage), and there, in the center of the room, with a bashful smile on his face was Frederick . . . with a pot of honey.
I won’t go into all the kissing and hugging and crying that went on, but I will say this, that they did lick honey from one another’s paws, and from that day forth, Frederick was a happy, happy bear. He was happy because through love he had rediscovered part of himself. The part that loved honey. He was once again a whole, happy bear, and they both lived happily (for the most part) ever after.