Monday, June 21, 2010

Toy Story 3 and why I bawled my eyes out...

For Father's Day, we decided to take a family excursion to the event that is TOY STORY 3.   My expectations were only slightly guarded as Pixar has more than delivered on this franchise twice already. What I hadn't braced myself for, however, was my own parental journey as I sat there with my 13-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter and watched Andy say goodbye to his beloved pals as we, too, said goodbye not only to these wonderful characters, but to our own sense of childhood while our role as parents becomes ever more tenuous. This parting is particularly poignant when it comes to our son who has grown up far too quickly along with Andy.

The first TOY STORY came out in 1995, just 2 years before my son was born. Of course Ghost Hunk and I saw it in the theatre, young newlyweds who enjoyed good film making. Heck, one of our early dates was to see BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  When our son was 2 years old, we introduced him to the magical world of movies, beginning with TARZAN and THE IRON GIANT and TOY STORY 2. That boy was made for the cinema. He loved sitting in a theatre with Mama and/or Daddy, drinking in whatever amazing story spilled across the darkness. We all cried when the Iron Giant sacrificed himself and when Jessie's torch song pulled us into her heartache and loss. Sure, Ghost Son saw the first one on video before we hit the theatre for the sequel, but it was no less enthralling and he immediately loved all the characters, old and new.

As I watched Andy pack for college yesterday, it suddenly struck me that our own little dude is only 5 years away from that. There is really nothing left of that baby, anymore, that fantastic toddler whose belly laughs filled up the house and shook us all with such joy. I know...this may get a little maudlin, but I'm a mom. I can't help myself.  (By the way, the same actor has given Andy his voice in all three movies.)

I felt him sitting there next to me in the dark, growing, maturing every minute. And it didn't help that Andy is a lot like our boy. I'm sure he's a lot like many boys, but I'll continue to believe our son is exceptional, unique, amazing.When Andy makes his decision to give his toys to a little girl who will love them well, I had mixed feelings. Happy that the gang will continue to be loved and treasured, but sad that Andy will forever be separated from them. That he has grown up. His own hesitation is so telling. As he played with his friends one last time, introducing them to their new owner and making sure their stories continue, my heart ached. The realization that our son would be leaving, growing up, abandoning his childhood things, well that started a flood. Yes, I cried. I sobbed. I bawled my freaking eyes out!

Ghost Son thought I was being a little too sensitive about Andy's toys, but then he, too, realized that he was growing up and what that meant to his loony old mom. That's the thing about all three of these movies. They touch real emotions. No matter how old you are, you can relate to the trials of Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the gang. We know what it is to be betrayed that first time, to be abandoned by someone moving on to another stage of their life, to learn the price of friendship and how to have a little more faith in ourselves. These are such raw, real experiences no matter how old you get.

And now, I've watched my children trip through these quintessential life moments and TOY STORY 3 just brought all of it home with a 1-2 punch to the gut. They are growing up. They will be on their own sooner than we want, but they are ready to take on the world. I just wish I were ready to let them...


  1. I had the same reaction! And mine are only 4 and 8! We watched it yesterday for father's day too.

  2. Ditto! We went to see it on Father's Day too. I thought it was the best of the three, and I loved the first two, so that's saying a lot. And I had the same emotional reaction...our oldest daugher is eyes were not dry as we left the theatre.


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