Singing the ‘Bear Hunt’ song for the 30th time and loving it

Spending quality time with my grandkids, despite my limitations with FSHD

Robin Stemple avatar

by Robin Stemple |

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Regular readers of my column will know that my wife, Wendy, and I moved from Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh in January 2023 to be closer to our children and grandchildren.

There have been some issues, but the move has worked out well. We see a lot more of our kids, for instance. But I have to admit that the best part has been watching my grandkids grow up and being a part of all that entails.

Julia and Theo, the children of my son, Ryan, were over on a recent Friday for a sleepover. The weather cooperated, and Wendy enjoyed some quality time playing with the kids on our driveway.

Because of my mobility issues from facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), I can’t run around and play with the kids the way I’d like to, although I enjoy the noises they make when they’re playing outside with all their bikes, wagons, and toys.

I was at church rehearsing music (I play piano and keyboards) for our Sunday worship service while the kids enjoyed their outdoor play. I didn’t mind missing that, as I’m only a passive observer.

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By the time I got home, my daughter Jill had taken over child care and brought the kids inside while Wendy went to pick up pizza for dinner. As soon as the kids saw me riding up the stairs in my chair lift, they began calling for Pappap to play some music. My shoulders were pretty worn out from rehearsal. I usually pace myself and rest after a session, but who can say no to their grandkids? I played a few tunes while the kids danced around.

Wendy got home with the pizza about the time Julia and Theo were getting tired of the music. We ate our dinner, and the kids had a great evening playing at Nanna and Pappap’s house.

I regret that my FSHD prevents me from getting on the floor to play with the kids, but I do still enjoy hearing the sounds of their joy.

A special morning

The kids got us out of bed around 7 on Saturday morning. After a quick breakfast, Julia and Aunt Jill went back to our spare bedroom, where they had a long playing session with all the Barbie stuff we have for the kids to enjoy.

In the meantime, Theo asked me to sing a song he loves titled “Going on a Bear Hunt.” YouTube has dozens of versions of it.

It involves, of course, going on a bear hunt, but there’s a lot more to it. Most versions include looking through your binoculars to spot a bear, making sure to announce you’re not scared, and letting everybody know that you’re “gonna catch a big one!”

There are lots of motions and movements in the song. While I can do some of the motions, such as simulating a look through my binoculars, I left the other movements to Theo. He loves scurrying around our living room as he goes through some long, tall grass, stomping as he tromps through some sticky mud, swimming across a river, and perhaps stomping across a bridge. The versions vary, but they all end with getting to a cave.

You can’t go over or under the cave, so you have to tiptoe in, only to discover something with two big ears, a wet nose, and some sharp teeth. Crying “It’s a bear!” you then run back out of the cave, cross the bridge, swim the river, etc.

When it ends, you’re safe at home. The song can be great fun, but if you’re 2 years old, as Theo is, it can be a little scary, too. Even so, Theo insisted I sing it again and again. As soon as we were done, he would call out, “Again, Pappap, again!”

Here’s what made it special for Pappap. Every time we came to the cave verse, Theo would jump into Pappap’s lap where he felt safe, as we discovered the bear hiding out in the cave over and over again.

The FSHD doesn’t matter at all to Theo. He knows his Pappap is there to protect him, no matter what scary things life might bring. So let’s go on another bear hunt, Theo! Pappap is with you all the way!

Note: Muscular Dystrophy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.


Debra Sue Love avatar

Debra Sue Love

Loved hearing about your special day with the grandkids. Makes me want to go on a bear hunt also!!!

Robin Stemple avatar

Robin Stemple

Hi, Debra. Happy to take you along on our bear hunts! (lol) FSHD can steal our joy if we let it, so I was happy to share my moment of joy with Theo! Truly hope it put a smile on your face! Take care and GOD bless!


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