The saddest three minutes I’ve ever seen in a movie takes place in Toy Story 2. If you’ve you already seen it, and you read the title to this post, you know exactly what part I’m talking about, but if you haven’t, a brief set-up is required.
Toy Story was an animated film series (they’ve made three so far, and I hope they make another one someday) that revolved around Woody, a cowboy doll from the 1950s, and Buzz Lightyear, a more contemporary space doll. They have other sidekicks, too, but these two are the main protagonists (sorry for the literary lingo. I can’t help myself sometimes).
After the first Toy Story came out, and a sequel was greenlighted, the studio introduced a cowgirl doll named Jessie as a way to address the gender imbalance of the first movie. Jessie’s backstory is told in the form of a music video for a song by Sarah McLachlan named “When She Loved Me.”
Jessie was once a little girl’s doll of choice, and as long as that was the case, the doll thought that “everything was beautiful.” But as time passed, and the little girl grew up, the doll became neglected, and was eventually given away by the girl who once loved her. The children are saddened for the Jessie character, but the parents in the audience are the ones who take the bigger emotional hit.
The song, and the video that goes with it, are a reminder that kids are growing up every day. There’s no stopping it, and no warning signal to let us know when their childhood is slipping away. It’s so imperceptible, yet so inevitable, that we’ll miss it terribly when we realize it’s gone.
I was on my way to do some grocery shopping today, with my eight-year old daughter along for the ride. I saw a sign for a yard sale, and took a detour to check it out. It was late in the afternoon, and the proprietors were putting their things away as we walked up.
My daughter just wanted to leave, and told me so in no uncertain terms. Before we walked away, though, the lady who apparently owned the house told us of a box of Beanie babys that she had just put away. My daughter’s eyes grew wide, and I knew right away that we wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon.
As my daughter pawed through a box of the dolls, and clothes to put on the dolls, and accessories for the dolls like a bunk bed and a tent, the woman having the sale explained to me that her daughter was once very much into Beanie babys. But now her daughter is graduating from college, and told her mother it was OK to sell off the beanie babys.
My daughter found some things she liked, and I handed over a couple of dollars, which I’m sure was only a tiny fraction of what was spent on them years ago. My daughter gave me a big, happy smile, and played with her new treasures in the back seat as we drove to the grocery store. I had made my daughter happy, created a memory for the two of us, and cleared out a tiny part of a now-unwanted Beanie baby collection. Every transaction should work out so well.
Someday soon, my little girl is going to be in a different place, and playing with these Beanie babys will be the last thing she wants to do. Maybe it will be next week, and maybe it will be three years from now. But it will happen, and I’ll be terribly sad when it does. So I’ll enjoy watching her grow as much as I can, as with her older sister before her. And we’ll all be the better for it.