It’s been a week since I went to see Toy Story Four with Abigail. And…I still cannot stop crying over the film. For those of us who ventured to see Toy Story back in 1995, this ending truly brought home the concept that Woody himself questions in the films “ Why do people have to grow up so fast?” I’ve been pals with Woody and Buzz and Bo, et al, since I was a senior in high school. And those who know my daughter know that she’s carried a Woody doll with her daily (every SINGLE day!) since she was two years old. ( She’ll be 8 next month.) So, it was quite hard for me to say goodbye to the Roundup Gang last Monday afternoon.
I was not the only wet eyed person…Abigail was in tears too. Her reason was simple. How on earth could Bonnie not treasure Woody anymore? It was bad enough when she left him on the floor of the closet. And then, replaced him with a SPORK!! But then, to not seem to care that he’s missing from the Gang!? To give his sheriff badge to Jessie?? And the hardest cut of all…to seemingly drive off and the end of the movie and not realize that Woody is not there. The message is clear. She’s over him. What made it all the more heartbreaking for my daughter was that, even at 7 years old, she understood that Woody loved Bonnie and would do anything for her. I was crying a bit before, but when Abby raised a tearstained face from my lap during the final few moments and said “ Why doesn’t Bonnie love Woody like he loves her? Why is Woody staying behind?” my tears flowed down my cheeks into her curls.
Abigail’s reaction was one that I expected. She could not relate to the idea of Bonnie outgrowing Woody, as she has not yet outgrown him. He was with us for the movie, clutched in her (not so) tiny fist. It was my reaction that almost knocked the wind out of me. Why on earth was I sobbing into movie theater napkins because Woody and Buzz parted ways? The depth of my tears surprised me; until I looked down and Abby and her Woody. Then, I knew.
I was crying for the future, for the day when I will find Woody on the floor of her closet, or tossed under her bed. For the day when he won’t be her longtime companion…when texting and Instagram and who knows what else will be her “go to” release when she’s joyful or frustrated or feeling sad. There is a day, in the not so distant future, when Woody will not be her bosom friend, her “cuddle buddy” as she calls him, or her constant companion. When that day comes, she’ll be fine. But, the question worth asking is “ How will I survive it?”
Growing up is a part of life, we as adults know this. Helping our children grow up is also a part of life; we as parents know this too. Knowing it is one thing…being fully ready for it is quite another. As we spend the summer with our children, be they toddlers or teens…we each know that there might be a milestone in store: a favorite toy abandoned, too tall for the kiddie rides at the boardwalk, a dorm room to decorate, a driver’s license to obtain. And, we know, it’s always harder on us to let our children “reach for the sky” than it is for them to do the reaching. We also know this- it’s the most important job we will ever have, to help them sail “to infinity and beyond”. I will miss Toy Story, the Round Up gang and Woody most of all. He will always be in the forefront of my memory when I look back on my Abigail’s early years. As Woody says “ I can’t stop Andy from growing up, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” My readers…we can each insert our own child’s name here and just be glad that as time marches on, we don’t miss any of those spectacular (and sometimes sad) growing up moments!