An unpredictable chain of events happened yesterday that has left me in a state of slight distress and ambiguity. I was babysitting for the foursies (kids, ages 6, 4, 2, 2) for the afternoon. Toy Story was playing in the background. I’d seen it many times when my kids were little ones. I giggled when I heard reference to Pizza Planet in the movie. My son called the pizza place down the street Pizza Planet once he had seen the movie. The sound of the arm laser of Buzz Lightyear brought me back to many years ago when my son had the Buzz Lightyear toy and made that sound over and over and over and over. These thoughts made me smile. I also felt a longing for the time when my baby boy was truly a baby boy. He is 21.
Toy Story 2 was next. I’d seen it once. I caught bits of it but when the sad song came on I turned my head to watch. The toy, Jesse, was dusty under the bed while her owner/kid grew up—friends, nail polish, high heels, etc. I thought of my daughter who, just the other day, picked up one of my old toys from a storage bin and asked if it truly needed to be kept. I paused. I understood the logic behind her question, but there seemed to be enough contemplation on my part for me to just put it back in the box, not really knowing why I needed to keep it. She is 19.
Then, Toy Story 3 happened. I had never seen it before. I was watching off and on until about halfway through.
Me: Wait! Where are they now?
Lu: They are in the garbage place.
Me: Oh no–The purple bear is stuck!
Lu: That’s okay, he’s mean.
Me: No, it’s not okay! We have to love our neighbor, even if they are mean.
Lu: But, he’s a bad bear!
Me: It doesn’t matter, though. We still have to—wait, is that a furnace?!?
Lu: Yes, it’s not the light to outside.
Me: Oh, look! The purple bear is going to push the emergency stop button.
Lu: Just wait.
Me: [GASP] What?!? He didn’t push the button!!!
(This is where my eyes start leaking and I realize that I’m in front of 4 children. Also, I’ve just made an important point about loving your neighbor that is now all shot to hell.)
Lu: Now they are in the furnace and they’re going to die.
(This is where I watch these damn toys hold hands together in the furnace as they are about to die, eyes still leaking, and I pray that none of the kids look at me.)
Me: Oh, Thank God! The grabby thing saved them!
(This is where I say that I have to use the bathroom so I can gather myself together and stop weeping so I can go back to being a responsible adult.)
Me: Wait, is Woody in the attic box or the college box?
Me: What is he writing on the sticky note?
(This is when my face contorts into weirdness in order not to burst into tears and my eyes start leaking again. I watch as Andy takes the box to the little girl down the street and gives her his toys. Then, Andy smiles at Woody and he smiles back. That’s when I lost it. Back to the bathroom to get a grip!)
Too many emotions all in a matter of hours. My kids left for college and growing up and adulthood. No more Pizza Planet, laser noises and giggly sleepovers. It’s just me. It’s just me, the cats, and my storage bins of Woody’s and Jesse’s, pictures, and other stuff that is meaningful…and other stuff that is crap. It was a beautiful, eye-opening, heart-opening, happy and sad day.