Growing pains of the emotional kind

John and I went to see Toy Story 3 this weekend, which has prompted several long conversations about the transition from childhood to adulthood.

The premise of the movie is that Andy is heading off to college and has gotten too old for his toys. It tells the story from the toys’ perspective, of course, but it’s hard not to remember that excitement and fear of being the teenager getting ready to leave the nest, too.

Moving out of your parents’ home is probably one of the biggest changes you go through — making that transition to being an independent grown up.

We’ve been talking a lot about how you can bridge that gap, to connect the wonder and optimism of childhood with the adult you become, without tossing all the toys to the curb, so to speak.

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Categories: home and family, lifestyle

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6 replies

  1. Also:

    What does it mean to be an “adult.” Does it require certain actions, certain philosophies, certain behavior? How do you bleed out the destructive parts of youth without taking with them the glorious parts that made being young so compelling? How do you not follow the script?

  2. I am in an unusual position when it comes to this. I am bridging the gap physically — living in my parents’ house, which is now my house, with my kids.

    So every room has layered memories, and every experience is contextualized by other experiences. This is both rich and difficult, particularly since my parents are fading away with age and, to some extent, the dissolution of memory.

    I had a wonderful childhood, absolutely no complaints. Then I moved away from my parents’ house for 20 years, then came back as a full adult, with lots of experiences behind me. And now I find myself often awash in melancholy — not because I wish I was a kid again but because the memories are so palpable (the soul of a place can do that to you) and because they stand in such stark contrast to the way my parents are now.

    I feel a sense of loss, though I have not really lost anything. And I feel a sense of security and optimism as well, though it’s kind of ghostly because it means I am charting my own path literally atop that of my parents, albeit in a very different way. Doing that, though, when my oldest son is actually living in the room in which I grew up is an odd experience indeed.

    But I ramble.

  3. I’ll give you two examples, Ted, as long as you promise to share what you and Melissa have been discussing?

    John had a great childhood and has really warm feelings for that time in his life. He had a close relationship with his mom, who he lost in his 20s, and had good friends and hobbies that brought him a lot of joy. So we’ve been talking about what kind of touchstones from that time he could bring into his adult life to remind him of the joy and optimism of his childhood — for him, that probably includes some Bill Cosby and Smuthers Brothers comedy CDs, for example, and getting him some time on Lake Michigan this summer.

    He’s doing an art show this August in the local library right in front of his high school, so there’s a real, physical sense of reconnecting with that young John.

    I was sort of the opposite, always the kid eager to move on to the next phase. In high school, I couldn’t wait to get to college. In college, I couldn’t wait to graduate and get a job. For me, we’ve been talking about the value of reclaiming some of the kid stuff I was in such a rush to escape — things like water parks and fireworks — and of slowing down to enjoy the now instead of focusing so much on the future.

    Any of that make sense? And what kinds of things have you discussed?

  4. More, please — what kinds of stuff have you been talking about in terms of bridging the gap. Melissa and I had very similar conversations after seeing it.

  5. Ergo, we all need to work at Pixar, yes? How fun would that be? I’d love to infuse my daily work with more kid-like imagination. Maybe I need a scooter to roll down to the office kitchen for coffee…

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