My oldest son cried twice the other night. No, we didn’t take the car away; he watched Toy Story 3.
At 17, he felt the movie was made for him. He boasted to his little brother that his generation had the best of everything: Toy Story, great Disney films, Harry Potter, and Pokémon. (“Mom,” he told me, “the new shows have no soul.”) Jack’s young life was outlined by these entertainments. We lived in San Francisco at the time and every time a new Disney film came out, we would take the cable car down to the Union Street Disney store where I would special-order the video. The movies came with a movie still. I collected approximately 25 of these which now hang in his little brother’s room. (Mulan is still my favorite.)
When Pokémon became the new fad, we would have Pokémon expeditions into China Town. We’d mill and mull in all the shops, looking for the latest Pokémon character. Inevitably, the best Pokémon was always in the first shop we’d stopped at. At a PTA meeting, I was having a hard time keeping up with some of the adult conversations, but I could recite all the latest 50 Pokémon cards, including their strengths and weaknesses. My father actually took a day off work to take all his grandchildren to the Pokémon movie premier. Then, after, he bought all the kids Pokey cards out of some guy’s truck, because he could get a better deal.
Collecting the Toy Story figures in the kid’s meals became a full time event. I would bribe my co-workers into buying them so I could surprise the kid with the latest figures. Thank goodness I lived in SF, so I could burn off all the damn fries.
As I stumble through my teenage son’s room, desperately trying not to trip, I find dog-eared Harry Potter books. In second grade, Jack had the best reading teacher ever. I will never forget the day when all the words and sentences came together—he “got” reading! From that point on, reading was everything. (A’s in English, D’s in math.) I dragged a sleeping child out of his bed for the midnight release of the second HP book. Driving up California Street for a book I could easily buy nine hours later, with a screaming child, is a parental mistake I will not make again!
When Goblet of Fire came out, I would steal the book from my son and lock myself in the bathroom with him pounding on the door, and I would scream, “Just one more chapter!!”
As all these wonderful stories of young boys come to an end, I see my 6’3” son struggling to hold on to his last remaining months of childhood. (He is so envious of his little brother.) Like all parents, my husband and I hope we have given our children the tools for success – a foundation to build a good, happy life on. Like all parents, we have failed in some ways, but in many ways, we have succeeded. Our son is a good boy with character and soon he will be a wonderful, insightful young man. (I remember how my hands shook when I had changed my newborn son into his “going home” outfit.) As he heads off to his future, these beloved stories, which filled his childhood with magic, will always be there for him when life gets rough. And isn’t that the best part about movies and reading: You can always visit again.