🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #10
Gregor The Grounding Bear
Gregor the Grounding Bear was a myth. None of the grown-ups believed in him. Parents would tell their children about Gregor the Grounding Bear, and usually the children were scared of him.
“If you don’t get yourself to sleep, Gregor the Grounding Bear will come in the night and take you down into the Earth, so that you never come back to your bed ever again!” parents would hiss to their children.
Many of the children were so frightened of Gregor the Grounding Bear, that they would never misbehave at bedtime. They would march straight up to bed, tuck themselves in and close their eyes, to make sure Gregor could not see them awake.
But one night, a girl named Madeline questioned the stories about Gregor the Grounding Bear.
“Mum,” she said. “If Gregor the Grounding Bear really is real, have you seen him before?”
Madeline’s mother was tucking the covers in around Madeline’s body as her daughter lay down to sleep.
“Um…no,” Madeline’s mother said. “No…but…I was told about him when I was a little girl, and I made sure never to misbehave at bedtime.”
“I’m going to stay awake, with my eyes open, right here, just to see if the stories are true,” Madeline said. “I don’t care if Gregor comes to take me away. I’ll fight him off.”
Madeline’s mother snorted and stood up straight.
“You remember the poem, don’t you dear?”
Madeline nodded. Her mother repeated part of it.
“Gregor the bear is as big as a house
But he moves as quietly as a mouse.
He’ll open your window and reach right in,
And take your body away with him!
But if you’re asleep, quiet and still,
Gregor ignores your windowsill.
He walks on by and leaves you to rest,
And tries to find someone else instead.”
Madeline’s mother nodded triumphantly. “You can’t fight off Gregor. Better shut your eyes and keep quiet, my dear. Alright?”
“Alright,” Madeline said, closing her eyes, and her mother walked out of the room, leaving Madeline in darkness.
Madeline remembered another part of the poem about Gregor…
Open eyes will attract his gaze,
He’ll come right in and take you away
But keep them shut, don’t even peek –
And Gregor will walk away down the street…
But for the first time in years, while she lay in bed, Madeline opened her eyes.
“I want to see him,” she thought, “I want to see Gregor the Grounding Bear. I want to know if it’s true.”
And she kept her eyes open for as long as she could, until just as she was falling asleep, she heard something.
It was a scratching at her window. Madeline’s eyes were almost closed, but they popped open fully when she heard the noise.
She looked towards her window and stared. Through thin curtains in the moonlight, she could see the shape of something. It looked like a small teddy bear, and it was standing on her window ledge, tapping at the glass.
“Girl, dear girl!” she heard the little figure say through the glass. “Will you please let me in?”
Madeline got out of her bed and walked straight over to the window, where she drew back the thin curtains to see this little brown bear with big blue eyes, carefully balancing as he stood on her window ledge.
“Please,” he said. “It’s cold out here.”
Madeline wasn’t sure what to do.
“No,” she said. “No, you are a stranger. I’m not letting you in.”
The little bear took a breath in and sighed. It looked down at its feet.
“Very well,” it said through the glass. “See you soon.”
Madeline watched as the little bear leapt up into the air, and travelled down towards the ground, leaving her sight. She thought the bear might splatter into the concrete beneath him, she didn’t want that, so she opened her window and peered down to the ground below her.
She saw the little bear on the pavement, walking with a slight waddle, approaching the front door of Madeline’s house. The bear jumped up and pressed the doorbell.
The doorbell rang through the house. Madeline froze. She heard her father stir in the room beside her. Then she heard her mother whispering with panic.
The doorbell rang again, then again, then again, and soon Madeline heard her father reluctantly climb out of his bed and walk heavily out of his bedroom.
“Who on earth is ringing my doorbell at this untimely hour!” he yelled.
Madeline ran out of her room and watched as her father thudded down the stairs, opened the front door, ready for a confrontation, only to see nothing ahead of him. Madeline saw this little bear walking in between his legs, into the house, and waddling up the stairs towards her.
“Father,” she said. “The bear! This little bear just walked in.”
“Bed, Madeline!” her father yelled. “It’s too late for games.”
“Don’t worry, Madeline,” the little bear whispered as he started to use his arms to help him climb the stairs. “He can’t see me. Most adults can’t because they think I’m not real. No one can see me if they’ve decided I don’t exist. My name is Gregor. It’s nice to meet you. I noticed you were having trouble sleeping.”
The bear was almost at the top of the stairs, at Madeline’s feet, and her father was closing the front door, locking it.
“Madeline! Bed!” he yelled.
“But there’s a little bear!”
Madeline walked quickly towards her room and shut the door before the bear could follow her in. She sat and leant up against it.
She heard the bear sit against the closed door on the other side, and he waited until Madeline’s father had gone back to bed, complaining about pranksters who thought it was funny to wake him up in the middle of the night.
Soon it was quiet again.
“Madeline,” Gregor whispered through the door. “Do you need help sleeping? I noticed you were still awake. I always know when children are still awake, but I only offer help if I think they won’t be too scared of me.”
“No,” she whispered back. “No thanks. I just wanted to see you for myself. Are you really Gregor the Grounding Bear? The stories about you say you are a big monster, and…”
“I hate those stories,” Gregor whispered through the door. “Now all the children are scared of me, so scared that they would rather be frightened all night with their eyes shut instead of letting me help them sleep. It’s a shame, really. I just want to help.”
“How?” Madeline said. She was tempted to open the door, but she didn’t.
“Easy,” Gregor said. “I’m the grounding bear. I’m very friendly with the Earth, and she helps people to sleep, through me.”
“How?” Madeline said again.
“Easy,” Gregor repeated. “Imagine you are a tree.”
“Yes, a tree. Any tree. It’s easy. You know how trees have big roots that come out of them that go down deep into the Earth?”
“Imagine that. Feel that. Feel big strong roots coming out of your feet and legs and body, and see them going down very deep into the Earth, going down further and further, getting stronger and stronger, making more and more of themselves so that you are solidly and safely connected to this massive Earth beneath you, which supports you all the time.”
Madeline was feeling drowsy, and relaxed.
“Then,” Gregor said, “if you want, you can imagine these roots being filled with a lovely light, any colour you want. It could be gold, pink, green – anything, and see the light going up those roots, filling them up and then filling your entire body.”
Madeline could feel it, gradually at first, then it felt stronger. Her roots beneath her body felt strong and solid, the light filling her body felt as if it was made of pure peace, and then pure joy.
“And then completely relax,” Gregor said. “Completely relax and enjoy all the calm.”
And just as Madeline drifted off into sleep, still resting against her own bedroom door, Gregor stood, walked off down the stairs, and was happy he had done his job.