CAROLINE SMAILES

The post where Buzz Lightyear makes me cry

Years and years ago one of my still closest friends in the world bought me a wishes and dreams journal. In it, over many years, I’ve dared on every New Year’s Eve to make wishes for the following year. And, also, on two separate occasions I wrote of major dreams, ones I dared not speak out loud and both of them came true. It is a special journal, a keeper of dreams and secrets.

In amongst it all there is a wish that I wrote for Eldest from New Year’s Eve in 2001, when he had just turned four. The wish was simple, it was to help him to talk and to keep our promise to him to take him back to Disneyland Paris.

Back then Eldest had been diagnosed with developmental verbal dyspraxia and could not be understood when he talked. He was struggling socially and speech therapy was intensive. We’d been to Disneyland Paris at the beginning of the year and Eldest had met Buzz Lightyear. Up until that moment, he’d never bothered with role play and many toys didn’t interest him at all, but then on meeting Buzz everything changed. Buzz Lightyear became his favourite and as a result Eldest had everything that we could find to do with Toy Story and specifically to do with Buzz. Limited edition, glow in the dark, different sizes, clothes, cuddly toys, everything. We completely over-indulged, but we were just so thrilled that he’d finally found something that he enjoyed playing with.

Now, so many years on there is nothing of Buzz Lightyear in Eldest’s room. I guess that’s to be expected, he’s almost a teenager and he has a very practical (if not minimalistic) approach to his bedroom. This means that every memory of Buzz is in a green box in the attic. I haven’t seen inside that box for years, but I know that I will still be able to tell you where I found each and every Buzz in that box and that I will be able to look at the items and still see my small son playing with them.

Today we went to the cinema to watch Toy Story 3. I worried that Eldest wouldn’t want to come, but he did and he sat next to me. The story is a continuation from Toy Story 2, but now Andy is seventeen and about to leave home for college. He is emptying his room and he has to make a decision about the toys, some to go in an attic, others to be thrown away or given away. The story unravels from there.

At one point in the film Littlest sobbed so loudly that everyone in the cinema turned to look at her. I watched the film trying to hide my tears but my crying wasn’t for the same reason as Littlest. She cried for the toys and for Andy. I cried because that boy, that Andy, was Eldest in a few years time and clearly it hit a nerve. Guess it proved to be a reminder about just how quickly these precious years with children fly past.

I miss my children when they’re not with me. I miss them being tiny and my being strong enough to carry them around the house. I miss then nuzzling into my neck and dribbling small wet patches. I miss the baby smell. I miss being ‘mummy’. I miss lazy days and not having to leave the house. I miss being woken in the night, sometimes. Instead my babies have grown into independent children. Their needs have changed and our interaction has too. Now my house is always messy and the noise is constant. They bicker, they play, they cry, they scream, I scream, but still I can honestly say that they make me laugh and smile every single day.

It’s all good, this isn’t a moaning post, it’s simply about capturing this moment.

Today, hours after seeing Toy Story 3, I still feel drained. The reality is that new stages and new circles occur all the time when you have children. Sometimes we hardly notice them, we’re too busy coping with daily life. Other times, like today, like watching that film, we’re prompted to think about just how far we’ve travelled.

Today I feel sadness. This sadness is mine, it’s silly, it’ll pass.

Littlest came home from watching Toy Story 3 and went to her room. She lay on her bed sobbing. She told me that she didn’t realise that one day she’d have to leave home. I explained that she never, not ever, has to leave us. I said those words and meant them, but I also hope with all my heart that one day she finds love and happiness… and that means that one day she’ll leave us and that’s just about too much for me to think about today.

We were home for half an hour before the Buzz Lightyear box came down from the attic.

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45 Comments

  • Babs McGinlay
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Well I for one love it when you post a very personal post! That was very interesting about older sons dyspraxia as my youngest has/had similar problems although its very hard to explain that to people. They just think I am being over protective of him and not letting him grow up. I too find it hard to accept that my babies have grown up. How can I possibly have a nineteen year old son? I also am one who needs to be needed and it makes me feel so empty at times when I know that they are growing away from me and making their own ways. You and they will get through this whole life thing you know. We all will. We just have to enjoy all the bits along the way, but I always feel that you have a great knack of doing that. Hugs x

    • Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      Dyspraxia is so hard to explain and yet the children are so utterly special. I understand. I also think that when you’ve been so protective, it’s hard to let go… but small steps and lots of talking. This post was just about marking today and a new stage in my life really. This whole life thing is is one big challenge, isn’t it? Ups and downs and the bits in the middle. SO glad people are here to listen and offer hugs along the way x

  • Posted July 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    one of my ex boyfriends had to have speech therapy because only his mum and his sister could understand him. your post made me remember that.

    your post makes me cry. i miss the memories that i fear will never exist. i think you’ll understand that.

    your kids are so lucky to have you as a mum.

    sending hugs.

    • Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      I do understand. I hope for you too. Remind me on New Year’s Eve and I’ll make a wish for you x

  • Posted July 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    What a heartbreakingly lovely post. Thank you for sharing this.

    Hugs too xx

  • Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Jesus , Caroline , your post has set me off – I have gone all weepy . Don’t . I’ve had this with Eldest too – exact conversation that you had with your gorgeous Littlest today . Eldest also devastated about the realisation that one day she would leave us too . (Yet , I have to say , not today , when she declared that she was going to live with a new mummy and daddy after I said no to the fifth request for sweets of the day , hmm …) Such is parenting . It does fill me with an overwhelming feeling of anticipated loss , grief even , if I think (at all, in fact) about them both flying the nest . Yet of course , I do want them to , ultimately , because that means that I’ve done my job right , and done it right , most importantly , by them . * reaches for another tissue * …. An amazing post . Ah, God Love You ,hun ,and Big Hugs : ) xxxxx

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      First off – thank you for my magic dream and wish journal :) You’ve hit the nail on the head Missy with an anticipation of loss… sob! The beautiful thing is that we both know we’ll be there for the other x ps – read Dave’s comment below, made me snot-sob!

  • Dawnie
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Omg I’m not alone, I have to point out I have not yet watched toy story, but what I mean is those feelings u described those moments and circles in time I feel those all the time I can feel era’s coming to an end and feel sad and long for the days when my “babies” were babies, and everyone used to say”make the most of them, they grow up too quick” & I’d think yeh yeh , but it is scaringly true and scaringly fast! I adore my boys and realize I’ll always be broody but not always necessarily for another but broody for it all back again that feeling those precious moments . O didn’t want to read this blog because I was scared u would give the ending away, instead my heart skipped a beat, my throat went dry and I cried as I know how and what you are feeling. Squeeze and one back please lol I need one ha ha. Oh to the days of endless chats, cuppas and note swapping and both of us on a flap about how to start weaning!! Do u rem the conversations on exactly how much and how often, and then what!! Lol oh the days. X

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Watch Toy Story, you’ll understand exactly where I am coming from. It feels like yesterday since we both met that cold November night. I won’t ever forget that special day x

  • Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Oh no. Your post has set me to crying now. My Eldest is starting primary school in the fall. My Littlest will be going to nursery parttime a few mornings a week in September. I will have many hours in the day to myself and I will not know what to do with myself. Already I have flashes of holding my babies in the hospital, how tiny they were. And then I look at them and they’re enormous now and saying things like ‘mooo-ooom’ when I give them too many kisses. I’m feeling really weepy right now.

    I’m glad the Buzz box is out of the attic. That makes me happy.

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      It flies, really and truly it does. Your hours without them will fill with ease and you’ll value those special moments with them that little bit more. Just remember to take a deep breath and look at all that is beautiful. I intend to do that a lot more from now on x

  • Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Despite the fact that I am generally grumpy and a singulary unpeople person I must admit that yeah, ok, the moving-on-growing-up-thing does get me a bit. A very little bit. One of my form class left the form recently after three years of him reminding me politely each morning of assessmblies we were meant to be in or letters I was supposed to hand out. I got a card saying I’d been a “Greeat from teacher and had helped out loads.” which was nice. I don’t believe him for a second, but I appreciated it. Kids moving on, suprising how much it pulls on the heart strings I agree.

    On the other hand that other one, the one who turns up and eats her egg sandwiches in registration and never, ever covers for my inability to organise, she can go. Go on. Away with you!

    Oh, and tell Eldest bravo on the Buzz toys. I still play with my lego.

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I do believe that is the most sensible comment you’ve left for a long time. I really do appreciate that, I know how hard it must have been for you :) I would like to know what you build with Lego though… x

  • Kelly Railton
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    What a moving post. I’m not a mother myself, although hopefully will be in years to come (I am 32 I should really start thinking about it!)… But, I remember very vividly the day I left home for university in Liverpool, an only child in a single parent family. Oh the guilt… And I really did miss my Mam, I really does think it goes both ways.

    And they never go away forever. I’m back now! (well not living with her but within 20 miles or so…)…

    Again lovely post
    x

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Aw, thank you! Your mum’s lucky to have you near. And good luck with the baby making :) x

  • Kelly Railton
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    That should be “I really ‘do’ think it goes both ways” Oh dear!x

  • Natalie Guillaumier Owens (Angela Guillaume)
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    This post hit a nerve in me. I have one son, one chance, one experience of everything. Then, once that’s gone, it will be just a memory. Chances are I won’t have more children, and that does pain me at times. I try to capture all of my son’s quirks and changes, all his little behaviours and smiles and expressions, and hold them close like a lifeline. Beautiful post, Caroline.

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      One very beautiful son! I do hope that I get a chance to meet him next week. Capture the memories, write them, record them and realise just how blessed you are. One delicious son is a gift x

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    In just over three years both mine will probably have flown the nest. Or will they? Many of Son 1′s contemporaries are hoping to be off to uni this autumn but their parents are half-expecting them back home permanently at the end of the three years, because that is the depressing reality of today.

    We should make the most of every childhood moment, but prepare them well for independence. Teach them social skills and make them streetwise. Let them know we will always be there for them, but give them the freedom to fly. That is the best we can do as parents. x

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      G and I were talking about this yesterday. I also think there is an increase of children going to local universities and living at home. I might have to extend my house and let all the children and their children live here together. Ha! Imagine that!

      But yes, we give them the skills and then we watch them fly xxx

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Wow. Amazing post Cas, you had me fighting back the tears.

    Our boy turned 15 yesterday! Yikes.

  • Chopper
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I, in time long long ago, went to the cinema with my grandparents to watch 101 dalmana, damash, whatever, spotty dogs and stood up shouting halfway through. Damn those carttons! I just wanted to make an observation; you could have lots more kids and this may help with your problem. I think G would be cool with that!

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    You will always always always be Mum and you will always always always be needed!! I’m 35 years old, happily married and have been living away from home for years but you know what….sometimes only Mum will do!

    C x

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Caroline,

    Of course, none of us would ever force our youngsters to leave home, and when they get emotional about it, we’re keen to reassure them about that; but we know that within a few years it’ll be them that are deciding to leave us, and despite how we feel, if we’re finally going to fulfill our ultimate function as parents, then we have to let them go, hopefully with the confidence that we’ve prepared them as well as we can for life in the world beyond our own homes.

    However you try to prepare yourself for it, it’s a wrench for the parents. By the time it happens, it’s an adventure for the child, and it’s mum and dad who really suffer, but we have to suppress our own sadness and do what our children know is best for them, despite out own personal reservations.

    Of course, being left behind is something our children teach us throughout their lives, even though they don’t realise they’re doing it. How many times do we think back to when their own distinctive personalities began to develop as toddlers? How many times do we look back on that ‘real’ person that suddenly seemed to appear in our life where the totally dependent baby used to be? How often do we miss that person so much that we’re moved to tears?

    My own kids are all grown up now and I love them all dearly; but I miss the little girls and the little guy who used to live here. They’ve gone forever, replaced by these independently thinking adults. I miss my babies.

    It often feels a little like bereavement, knowing that those personalities are gone forever never to return, but sometimes one of my own will do or say something amusing or touching, something that passes them by without thinking about it, but something that reminds me so much of the child they used to be, reminds me of that other person who I used to share my life with, who needed me and relied on me.

    Times like that are the best times to remember, because we can see our children reflected in the adults they’ve become, rather than pining for the children they once were.

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Dave, your comment made me cry – it’s truly honest and beautiful. Thank you so much x

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    OMG – that was soooooo sentimental Caroline – you have such a way with words – having kids and letting them go is emotional – you’re happy for them, sad for you, optimistic, worried, lonely but – sometimes you get them back – and that’s another story altogether – hehe!!

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      ‘But sometimes you get them back’ – I’ll remember to quote you in the future about this. Thanks so much for commenting. x

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Oh this hit a chord, Caroline. It becomes even more poignant when the daughter who watched Toy Story as a child is now planning to watch the third film with her child. But that also shows that life is cyclical. Children may grow up and move on, but when they do, they make new memories to cherish.

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. It passes so quickly and Disney is passed down through generations. I am discovering aspects of films I loved as a child all over again now. Enjoy your grandchildren! x

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I hope this doesn’t come out the wrong way but I love that this film made you cry and that it made you pause and cherish the time you have with your kids NOW. I don’t have any children but living in the moment is something we should all make more time for – too often we’re all running around, stressing about what happened in the past or where we want to be that we don’t take time to enjoy what we are or have now.

    Your post made me cry, and stop to appreciate this moment. Thank you!

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      It didn’t come out the wrong way, not at all. That is exactly the point that I was trying to make. Life is about grabbing the now. Thank you x

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Caroline –

    I don’t even HAVE kids and this post brought a tear to my eye! Can’t wait to see the movie but am nervous of the public blubbering it will no doubt bring – heard it’s made grown men cry, etc. Thanks for such a lovely post!

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I hadn’t read any reviews of it and I am so ‘happy’ to learn that it made other people cry too. Phew! Enjoy the film x

  • Posted July 21, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    We are off to see Toy Story 3 on Friday. I feel a little more prepared now. I may take my daughter’s new Buzz Lightyear with me and hold on to him for dear life.

  • Posted July 22, 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I never really grew out of my love of Toy Story and I’m 24! But I still remember finding my Buzz at the toy store and FREAKING OUT! My mom witnessed my joy and I’m sure she’ll always remember it. I still have a lot of toys in my bedroom. Some old and some new. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

  • nikki reeves
    Posted July 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    ur post made me cry………… my youngest has autism, and limited speech, and tbh it was disney that has totally helped him and helped him grow – winnie the pooh was the first character he wanted to hug, and his first clear words were mickey & minnie!!

    now, he too loves buzz lightyear, and just today i bought him his first big cuddly buzz which hes currently bouncing on the trampoline with!!

    we havent got to see toy story 3 yet, but ive heard bits bout andy leaving home, and am already prepared to go with tissues, and no makeup, as i will totally cry, as youngest starts school in september, and its a huge step into the unknown. we have no idea how he will cope/react to it all, so toy story will really bring it home!

    thank u so much for u post, and the realisation that ill have many more tears in yrs to come, but hopefully more happy than sad ones!

    thanks for ur post………… xxxx

    • Posted July 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Sorry for making you cry, but I’m also so glad that you posted this comment. Hold your little one that extra bit closer – he’ll cope, he’ll get there… he will! x

  • Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I had delayed reading this post because I knew it, you, would make me cry. You have the same feelings as I do, I miss being needed by my girls. The 10yo still needs me a little bit, but The Teenager is oh so independent now. I miss them clinging to my skirt, and jumping on my lap for a cuddle. I’m happy that they’re growing into such lovely young women, but as you say, I’m sad for me. I need to be needed a bit more.

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