So yesterday was my birthday and I turned 38. I know that is old to some of you because the blogosphere slants young. But thanks to the Desperate Housewives and Demi Moore I'm still totally in the game. I don't care about aging. Sure, I'm fatter and less supple. What am I going to do? The night before my birthday I said to each of my kids, "Just imagine 38 years ago tonight I was still in Grandma's stomach, waiting to come out." They almost threw up. Oh yeah, they LOVE to hear about the night THEY were born but switch to an old lady gestating another old lady and suddenly they have to stifle their gags.
We went to see Toy Story 3 for my birthday. It's probably the best movie I've seen all year--and I don't like cartoons or enjoy things like Ice Age. It's very well done, clever, and moving. My oldest son was just little when Toy Story came out and he was SUPER into it. It was the first thing Sam was really into (except for Blues Clues, I guess.) He had Buzz and Woody and even a Zurg room guard. Now he mows lawns for money so he can ride his bike to Chucka Rama with his friends and eat all he can eat. He still has toys but it's not the same. Watching Andy go off to college is a KILLER, folks.
Because parenting is a killer. You have a baby and it hurts really bad and they eat and don't sleep so it's hard and physically taxing but you are thrilled because you love it and it's what you want. It's crazy. And then they throw fits and make messes that you literally don't know how to clean up (sour milk in the crack between the seats in you your car? Desitin and Baby powder inside shoes? Swiffer? Whaaaaa?), and they do that thing where they throw back their head and hit you in the nose and it hurts and makes you mad and older well-meaning people tell you to just enjoy it because it goes by fast. It's a killer because you feel guilty for not enjoying cleaning smeared poop off the fridge and then they go to Jr. High School orientation and tell you, "It's OK, Mom. You don't have to stay. See ya." and you think oh crap. Maybe I should have enjoyed it?
But enjoying cleaning up poop is insane and I don't think it makes anything better in the long run so I refuse to be happy about it. Kids should just make fewer messes and throw fewer fits. I'm just saying I could imagine how Andy's mom feels about him going to college. Of course you are proud because you want your kids to grow up and go to college. It's just that parenting is not, I think, a winning proposition. Even if your kids turn out great they're off and running on their own. Bittersweet--I think is what they call it?
As a parent, I obviously relate to Woody and Buzz--which makes this movie so, so charming. My kids won't need me at some point just like they don't need their toys. What is virtuous in Andy as a kid--that he loves and takes care of his toys--will translate into virtue in Andy as an adult maybe as loyalty, thoughtfulness, and imagination. But the objects (the toys) really aren't important in the same way. You get that. The toys get that (to varying degrees--I mean, the dinosaur is pretty dopey so he doesn't get it. Woody gets it). And growing up means getting that. It's like when we saw Where the Wild Things Are and my little kids just thought it was weird and didn't like it but Sam understood that it was very sad, which is sad. But also cool because, what a great kid! It's also cool to see him serve in the church, talk to teachers by himself, and fix quesadillas for the whole family. Does the sheer joy of raising kids outweigh the bittersweet and just plain sad? I don't know, man.
I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. Sam spent the last bit of his mowing-money on a Toy Story Nintendo DS case which he will probably take with him to college some day. (If he goes to college.) (Which is a whole other agonizing contingency--Rejection letters. Failing. Having enough money. Etc.) So anyway. Toy Story 3 is great. In addition to alluding to the weighty matters of parenting and putting away your childish things, it's delightfully funny. Plus, Woody reminded me a little bit of Jack Shepherd.