Saturday, December 29, 2018

Jessie's Empty Nest in Toy Story 2

Photo by Jeff Christiansen.
Toy Story 2 was released in 1999, which was during a time between the births of my two children. 

As they moved through their childhood, we watched the film at home several times to their delight..

The first five times I watched Toy Story 2 with my young children, I focused on Emily.

That character demonstrated how my children were moving through stages of childhood and leaving childhood things behind.

Then when my children became tweens and teens, I didn't watch this film at all.

Now my children are launching into adulthood.

My son moved to Nevada a year and a half ago, and I haven't seen him at all during this time. My daughter is a senior in high school.

Intellectually, I understand that they need to establish their own lives. I've been teaching university classes and running academic support services since the 1980s. During these several decades, I've been self-righteously telling parents who visit campus to "let go."

Experiencing an emptying nest myself is more emotional than I anticipated. 

During this last calendar year, my only daughter and my youngest child has hit a lot of markers of independence. In less than a year, she got a driver's license, a car, a boyfriend, a part-time job, and an acceptance letter to a university that is a five hour drive away.

I'm conflicted about all this.

Yes, I am happy to see that she is learning to function independently. I don't want my children living in my basement. As an older parent (I'm closer to 60 than 50), I don't have a lot of years to host late-launching children. They need to care for themselves.

However, I like my children. I miss them when we are apart. They are physically absent from the home more, and they get most of their emotional support from their peers.

During one of my pity parties, I decided to watch the music video of Sarah McLachlan singing "When She Loved Me" with an eye on how the girl in the film was setting aside childhood things for adolescent things.

But I discovered that I identify with Jessie, the toy. 

This isn't a song about a toy witnessing the grown of the girl who owned her. This is a song about the pain that a parent feels when separating from her growing child.

If you don't believe me, watch the video yourself. 

If you have children who are teens or young adults, I suggest that you equip yourself with a box of tissues before pressing "Play."


Related:

Robert Peck Tasks for Older Adults
Traits that Make a Person an Older Adult
Plotkin Describes Life Stages

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