Monday, August 02, 2010

Third Time's the Charm

Although, in this case, it might be said that the third time is ALSO charming.

We waited to see Toy Story 3 until we were together with a bunch of our cousins. My mother was thrilled as 8 grandsons and 1 granddaughter filled an entire row at the movie theater. They all looked so cute: even the Jedi were matchy in clean cargo shorts and striped polos. They even consented to a hair combing for the event.

The previews were fun. There is another Narnia movie coming out later this year that looks as exciting (if loosely based on the books) as its predecessors. Jedi Knight now has another book to get through before he can see the movie. We also saw a clip for Disney's new Rapunzel movie, titled "Tangled." It actually looks quite hilarious, and told from a very cocky prince's point of view. It seems that Rapunzel will use her hair for some awesome Ninja tricks. Still, Padawan leaned over and said, "Looks like a girl's movie." Maybe I could adopt somebody's daughter for the day and take them to see it.

I expected Toy Story 3 to be entertaining. Maybe even highly entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two. What I did not expect, however, is to be crying before they were even done with the opening credits, and then fully BAWLING during the closing credits.

It can be argued that after three films, you become really invested in characters--Tom Hanks is a remarkable actor even when disembodied--and that is the reason for my emotional response. The scene when these amazingly tough little toys are headed to the hellish incinerator is really dramatic and kind of scary. Knowing they are finally out of ideas, they do the only thing left to them: they hold hands, friends forever, and look death straight in the eye.

Uh, spoiler alert.

They don't die. Of course. It isn't a horror movie, after all.

However, I don't think it is my attachment to the characters, wonderful as they are, that prompted the tears. As Andy heads to college, you realize that his reluctance to clean out the toy chest has nothing to do with teenage angst. It is that some part of him realizes that in doing so, he is saying goodbye to his childhood. Before heading to the new phase of his life, he drops his toys off at the house of the most adorable child ever created by Pixar. She takes on these toys as a sacred responsibility, and understanding that he has found a kindred spirit, Andy delays his leaving for an hour to play with her.

To say goodbye to his toys, yes. But really to say goodbye to his childhood.

As I looked at that row of hardly-ever-still boys, ranging in age from 14 to 3, it was as if I was watching their childhoods slip away before my eyes. And I cried.

Last week, on a slow summer afternoon, my little boys asked me to help them take down the Lincoln logs and build some train tracks on the play table. We used to always call it the train table, but nobody has wanted trains built in a long time. I obliged and the kids played and played with Thomas and his friends. Our friends. When Jedi Knight, my train obsessed boy from way back, came home from doing a big-boy thing, he settled right into playing with them, even though he told another little boy a few weeks ago that he had "pretty much outgrown Thomas."

He will be nine in just a couple of months. Saturday we let him stay up and watch Lord of the Rings with Jeff and I. Sunday he wanted to watch a DVD containing episodes of Go, Diego, Go. Such a mature young man, and such a little boy at the same time.

How do moms learn to let go?


家唐銘 said...
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mstanger said...

Well, not being a mom, my answer will have to be taken with a grain of salt, but based on my observations, they are in a better position to do so if it is done incrementally. My mom sent me off to Germany for the summer after jr. year, and then off to the U of U before she had to deal with the MTC experience. I will never forget pulling out of the driveway with my dad to move to SLC for college. My mom was really shaken up, despite the fact I wasn't going very far away. At the time I thought she was overreacting, but in retrospect, it was good for her to have that experience before sending me on a mission.

In contrast, I've seen some families whose children didn't wander off to college or similar endeavors pre-mission really get beat up by the mission experience.

Of course, you never fully let go of the parent-child connection. There are powers beyond those of this world binding parent to child, and thank God for that.

When we had our second, we were living in Miami and my mom came to help out for a bit. She didn't do well on the ride back to the airport. The prospect of leaving her son and grandchildren in a roach-infested ghetto apartment (to be clear, my wife keeps a very clean house, but there is no such thing as a non-roach-infested residence in Miami--they are everywhere) on the other side of the continent was not exciting for her. Honestly, I felt quite flattered that even after so many years away from home I was loved so much.

I don't doubt for a second that you will have similar feelings for a 25-year-old Jedi Knight, wherever he may wander.

AmyJane said...

I watched TS3 with both my littles between me and the daddy, totally enraptured, and with my tiny baby girl cuddled up on my chest. I cried pretty much through the whole dang movie. The beginning scene got me started as well, and the end--well, it was the end, as you well described. My tears were both about my own really quite lovely childhood and about the childhood I attempt to create every day for my own babies. It was a such a tender, real movie and right on the mark. Pixar officially has my loyalty forever, I think.