The Story of the Five Bears – A Lesson of the Heart

The Story of the Five Bears - the new multigenerational family

The Story of the Five Bears – the new multigenerational family

The Story of the Three Bears” is a fairy tale written by British author and poet Robert Southey in 1837 using the traditional family living situation of Father, Mother and child.

“The Story of the Five Bears” is an essay updating Southey’s “Story of the Three Bears” into the year 2014, showcasing the trending multigenerational household arrangement where three generations are all living beneath one roof.  It is told from the perspective of myself, the oldest generation.

ONCE upon a time in the year 2014 there were Five Bears, who lived together in a crazy, multigenerational household, filled with crazy, unconditional love.  and crazy – sometime uncontrollable commotion and organized chaos.  All the Bears called it simply and tenderly “Home, Sweet Home.”

One of them was a small, wee-size boy bear named Wee Bear and one was a small average-size boy bear named Small Bear, and one was a medium-size mother bear named Mother Bear.  One was a medium size grandmother bear affectionately called Grams Bear or just plain “Gramsi” and the other was a great big grandfather bear called Bumpa Bear.

They all lived together in a Victorian cottage in the suburbs, with a welcoming front porch adorn with a comfy, old-fashioned porch swing.  It was there where tales were told and dreams were revealed as they gathered together at the end of the day.  It was here they would always feel the gentle evening breeze reminding them of the Lord’s love and presence in their lives.

They had a big yard and trees and a rope swing, where the bears could swing to and fro and toss their fears into the wind.  Bumpa Bear had built a unique patio with a garden railroad, where they all could sit and watch the train trail around and under the pillars of the structure.  The Bears named the structure Stony Trail Railway and Bumpa Bear thought that was “just right.”

In the entry way, off to the left, on the large, heavy braided rug, there were Bumpa Bear’s big shoes, Grams Bear medium shoes, Mother Bear’s medium shoes, Small Bear’s small shoes and Wee Bear’s wee shoes, all in a row as straight and neat as rows of corn in a Wisconsin cornfield.

When Small Bear and Wee Bear came home from school, Wee Bear would sometimes toss his wee shoes astray and they would scatter this way and that.  Small Bear would get a stern look on his small face and sound slightly gruff – similar to a small Bumpa Bear growl – and discipline Wee Bear:

“Wee Bear!”  You know that Grams Bear likes feng shui in the house, so get back here, right now and line up your wee shoes.

“Yes, Small Bear, I will,” replied the wee bear.  “I know that feng shui is important for Grams Bear because feng shui brings harmony in our house and makes it feel ‘just right.’”

The house contained one table with five chairs, and five bowls and five plates and five cups for the five bears to eat and share their mealtime together.

The Five Bears would get up for an early morning breakfast almost every day, except for Wee Bear, who never wanted to get out of bed.  Sometimes he was called Sleepyhead Bear.  Bumpa Bear would eat first most days but sometimes Small Bear would be up even earlier.  One day, Bumpa Bear poured his cereal into his big bowl, got his spoon and then poured his coffee.  Then he headed to the refrigerator to get his milk.  Then his roar could be clearly heard throughout the house:


Then Small Bear poured his cereal into a bowl and would look in the refrigerator for the gallon milk jug, just as Bumpa Bear did.  The familiar small sounding but very loud voice would echo:


The Mother Bear would sigh and say:

“OH DEAR!”  “At least we have some coffee and it smells so good!”  Then Mother Bear would retreat into the Music room and begin plunking away on the keys of the grand piano, practicing her lessons and trying to sound like Lorie Line and bringing a wee bit of peace to the chaotic morning.

And the Wee Bear was still fast asleep and oblivious to all the commotion.

And the Grams Bear would say in her soft, sweet voice:

“Yes, someone has drunk all the milk but Big Bumpa Bear is driving over to Kwik Trip right now to get you some fresh milk for your morning breakfast.”  “No worries.”  “And, if we are lucky, maybe Bumpa Bear will bring us some fresh chocolate donuts too!”

About 30 minutes later the little Wee Bear came down to breakfast and had cereal and fresh milk and chocolate donuts.  He liked it so well, he ate it all up!  Then Wee Bear said in his wee little voice:

“It is going to be a great day because my breakfast was “just right!”

After breakfast, the Five Bears all trekked out into the world to see what they could see and do what they could do to make a difference.    The big Bumpa Bear went to work at the Chippewa Valley Technical College where he worked as an electrician and fixed all the electrical problems.  The medium-sized Mother Bear would drive down the road to the dental office to work, thinking of her little Wee Bear and Small Bear with so much love in her heart.  The Grams Bear would take Small Bear and Wee Bear to the bus stop for school because she was a Granny Nanny, making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be at just the right time.

As the bus driver waved and pulled away with Wee Bear and Small Bear, Grams Bear would sigh.  Then she would drive her “Grams Great and Groovy Get-away Gig” to Starbucks and order a Skinny Cinnamon Dulce Latte.  Grams Bear would say that life was “just right” once everyone was headed off to their destinations and she had her latte!

Each day they all had a role to play in the three generation household.  Each of the Five Bears fulfilled a need to make the household function at maximum capacity.

Bumpa Bear tore his rotator cuff in an accident when he was gathering honey from a beehive and Grams Bear had heart disease, so the medium-size Mother Bear often had to do the physical household chores, like shoveling the snow in the winter time or mowing the grass in the summertime.

Wee Bear was in charge of putting out the garbage on Sunday nights with Bumpa Bear.  Both Wee Bear and Small Bear helped with the dinner dishes and the weekly cleaning chores like scrubbing toilets, and dusting and vacuuming.  Wee Bear and Small Bear were also responsible for picking up their toys and all the scattered Nerf gun bullets they were famously known for shooting while lurking in unforeseen corners, startling the larger bears.

Grams Bear was in charge of most of the cooking, but sometimes Mother Bear would take a turn at mealtime.  Grams Bear liked to have warm cookies and hot chocolate or special treats for Wee Bear and Small Bear after school.

One day, Grams Bear was making Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats for the family.  She stirred together the ingredients:  peanut butter, fresh honey that Bumpa Bear gathered and some sugar in the big black kettle.  As the mixture was beginning to boil, Grams Bear went to the cupboard to get the family-size box of Rice Krispies.

“OH NO!” exclaimed Grams Bear!

“Somebody has been into the Rice Krispies I bought for the Krispie Treats!” said the Grams Bear in her soft, sweet voice.

Bumpa Bear had just gotten home from work and looked weary and hungry and exclaimed:

“Somebody has been into the Rice Krispies I bought for the Krispie Treats!”

His voice was loud and gruff because he loved Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats and he wanted them NOW!  Grams Bear had told him she would have them for his treat after work!

Then the Wee Bear and the Small Bear had walked into the house from school and heard the Bumpa Bear.  They hung their little heads and said sadly in their wee and small little voices:

“I am sorry Bumpa Bear and Grams Bear.”  We did not know you were going to make treats and we ate the Rice Krispies for breakfast today.  Yes, we know they are almost gone.”

So off the big old Bumpa Bear trekked to the store to buy some Rice Krispies.  The Grams Bear fretted because the porridge-like mixture was boiling and it would get so hard.  That was not the way the Bumpa Bear liked his crispy treats!

“OH DEAR!” said the Grams Bear.

Just then the Mother Bear arrived home and sniffed and smelled the peanut butter concoction on the stove.

“Who is making treats and what is that delicious aroma?”

When Grams Bear explained the treat she was making, the Mother Bear said:

“Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to make those kinds of things.  I told you I do not want to eat like that.  I AM GETTING TOO FLUFFY!”  I only want to eat beans and rice.”

“OH DEAR!”  said the Grams Bear.

So Grams Bear, feeling hurt, got into her “Grams Great and Groovy Get-away Gig” and went to Starbucks for another Skinny Cinnamon Dulce Latte and said:

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh…Now everything feels ‘just right.’”

When day was done, and the Bears had there tummies full, it was time for a good night’s rest.  There were four bedrooms with four beds because Bumpa Bear and Grams Bear slept together, except for the times Bumpa Bear snored too loud!

“Who is snoring so LOUDLY?” the Grams Bear would utter with a sleepy voice.

Then the Bumpa Bear would say:  “I do not snore!  I sleep just right!”

“I can even hear you from up here and you are snoring loudly!” the Mother Bear would yell from her upstairs bedroom near the staircase.

The Bumpa Bear would go to the big leather Bumpa Bear recliner where he would fall fast asleep and no one could hear him!  Everyone was happy the house was big when Bumpa Bear snored.  Bumpa Bear would snore less frequently when he was upright a bit in his recliner, but sometimes…

We could hear Small Bear’s small voice echoing through the house:

“Bumpa Bear!  Bumpa Bear!  You are snoring too loudly!  I know you are in your big Bumpa Bear recliner because it is in the room below my bed!”

And all this time, Wee Bear was sound asleep in his big bed, and in his big room having sweet dreams and a restful sleep.  Wee Bear would wake up in the morning and say:

Good Morning Gramsi Bear, Bumpa Bear, Mother Bear and Small Bear!  I was so tired last night but now I feel so rested.  I slept ‘just right!’”

Most nights were “just right” as the evening drew to a close and the stars filled the sky and the moon shone down upon the three generation home.

If you listened closely you could hear, echoing throughout this home, in a gruff Bumpa Bear voice, and in a sweet Grams Bear voice, and in a gentle Mother Bear voice and in a tender Small Bear voice and in a tiny Wee Bear voice that familiar:

“Good Night.”

“I love you to the Moon and back.”

I love you to Pluto and back.

“And, I love you the most.”

“I love you the most mostest….”

And that should help you realize that they all lived happily ever after.

The Five Bears Evening Prayer

A Gentle Breezethe breeze the Bears feel on their porch swing

© Laurie Swartzfager

As I sit here on the porch swing admiring the view of an early sunrise
I tilt my head back and close my eyes.
A soft gentle breeze crosses my face
I look around and enjoy the quietness of God’s peace and the soft gentle pace
The trees are in full bloom, the leaves ready to fall
God’s beauty of earth, I admire it all.
As the sun comes up and begins a new day
I sit here quietly and begin to pray.
Dear God, I begin to say, please watch over my life and keep me safe
Give me hope and show me faith.
Guide my path and let me know you are near.
Allow me to be strong and filled with love, for love conquers all fear.
A gentle breeze crosses my path, and gives me a slight chill
God answers and says: I am with you still.
I’ve never left you alone, or threw you aside, I am in your heart, I will be your guide.
I will show you the way to master life’s difficulties, and trust your heart,
For I am with you now and forever, I shall never part.
A gentle breeze I feel again, I know my prayers are answered, God has heard my plea.
He has pointed this out for me to see.
Life has many surprises each and every day. We cannot live on regrets and sorrow.
Once again I feel a gentle breeze which means God is saying:
My child there is a tomorrow:
The sun will shine once again, the birds will continue to sing.
Memories will last forever, and enjoy life a new today, and all that it may bring.

Source: Power of Prayer Poem – A Gentle Breeze

14 Comments on “The Story of the Five Bears – A Lesson of the Heart”

  1. You again made my Sunday morning better. The five bears story sound very familiar….good reminder in how everyone has to work to make a home “work.” Daylight savings time may make wee bear sleep even later….

    • Thank you, Elaine. Yes, both Wee Bear and Small Bear are still in bed – all good for Grams Bear’s old heart! Enjoy this beautiful Sunday!

  2. I loved the 5 bears story! Made me smile, laugh and appreciate our chaos as well! Great job!

  3. Great story……sounds like real life with grandchildren around. We are having a nice time here in the sun. jan

    • Thank you! Yes, very much “real life” – a true lesson of the heart. “In the sun” sounds wonderful. We are having fun “in the snow” as Wee Bear is building a BIG snow fort! There are pros and cons to all kinds of weather. Enjoy this beautiful Sunday!

  4. There are many bears here on the beach,a few wee bears,a few medium bears but mostly Grams, Bumpas and Nana bears. Most appear to be taking good care of their hearts. At least the relaxing part I’ll pack up the warm sea breezes sand bring them back. Thank you again for a “heart warming story”. You’re the best. L&P. Ida Mae

    • Oh wow, it sounds like a story in the making – The Bears at the Beach. They sound like a wise bunch and, indeed, heart-healthy, knowing how to de-stress and relax. I am sure they are making wise food choices too… and certainly walking the beach to get all their “steps” in today. (I know Jan will get hers in for sure.) I am so happy you are enjoying your time away! Take care.

  5. Sharon-this hits a note,A few weeks ago I did a parody of the three bears story with my enrichment class. Movies like Shrek remind us that those golden fairytales should not be left behind for the “techie” generation,with all their I-phones and suchlike

  6. Sharon – awesome story. I could actually picture your day just as you described everything. It brought a smile to my face. Wee Bear could visit here, he likes to sleep in just like me! Such a busy loving home.


    • Yes, Kris, Wee Bear would definitely fit in at your home in regards to sleep — and so much more! Thank you for your comments on the NEW, multigenerational version of THE (THREE)FIVE BEARS STORY.

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