Friday, August 29, 2014

The Roller Coaster Ride

Having boys, of course we were avid fans of Toy Story. And when Toy Story 2 rolled out, we loved it just as much. We were actually on a Disney cruse, I believe, when we saw the first trailer for Toy Story 3. And we were all equally excited. And the wait began. It finally released. Going together was assumed. We found a time when the four of us could go, and off we headed to the theater. No one told me. No one prepared me. I went in expecting Pizza Planet and Stinky Pete. I wasn't expecting such a poignant, kick me in the gut, this is about to happen to you crying moment.

We all loved the movie. So much so that I created a scrapbook page about going to see it. I'm glad I did. On the page, I captured a quote from my oldest, who would leave the nest first, that I know would long be forgotten by me now. On the drive home he said, "That is possibly the best movie I'll ever see." Awwww. Don't you love when the little boys turn into young men, but still remember their little boy days in their hearts? I know I can imagine in an instant the boys one Halloween, my Philip as Woody, my Andrew as Buzz Lightyear, the costumes a predilection of their personalities to fully and later emerge. I can still see, too, all the ensuing play days where they wore the costumes around the house, forsaking clothes for the chance to live in the world where "There's a snake in my boot" are good words to hear and "To infinity and beyond" seem like a plausible reality.

I bought the Toy Story 3 movie when it dropped, as any avid Disney fan would. But I'll confess. I haven't had the nerve yet to watch it again. In fact, I tear up just recalling the utter sorrow I felt as college-bound movie Andrew drove away with mom, his toys on another's lawn. But, someday I will be courageous enough to watch it again. I think I'll do a time honored Grimsley tradition, though, and watch all three of them together, back to back, in sequential order. Oh, the bliss of the DVD home movie marathon. Even if I am watching it by myself, my own Buzz and Woody headed off to college themselves.

I share this story and this layout as in introduction to a story I wrote on the first day of school for my youngest son, my Andrew. And now I post it, and share it 13 years later, as he finishes up his first week at college.

The Roller Coaster Ride, written August 15, 2001

"Can you believe the summer's over?"
"I think it's this way."
"Ooh, I forgot my camera!"
"She's not here - she didn't get off the bus."
"I'll see you this afternoon."

Sentences, sounds, and sights assault our senses as we walk down the brightly fluorescent lit halls, rubbing shoulders with the crowds.

We knew what to expect this year. We are veterans now. We knew the cars would overflow the parking lot before 7:30. We knew the halls would be crowded. We knew all would exude confusion. None of that prepared me, though.

In something near a state of denial, I bought school supplies and clothes early and then put them away. Last night we could delay no longer. We got the clothes out and sorted through them and selected what they would wear for the all telling first day. We - the four of us - dressed and drove and parked and walked. We arrived. We hugged. We parted. They are there now. Both of them. Gone. I cried. My husband looked at me, so unsure of what to do or say, but ultimately knowing he had to go on to work and I would be fine. He hugged me. We parted.

The house is just me. I have not thought beyond this morning. I have been looking at the DAY and not farther. I had a very clear recollection of holding my first born during his first month and telephoning my mom and asking, "What age do they start school?" She answers from her school secretary desk, "Five." I am incredulous. I utter, "Five? That's far too early."

I think five is far too early. So, I delayed the inevitable and held my August baby boy back one year to defy the odds. I purposefully delayed his passage, but he has nonetheless begun it now. I held to them both so fast with my hands. In the end that doesn't matter. The school rings the bell and they run and I'm there in the dirt, waving goodbye without them so much as glancing backward.

I held them fast because, you see, another thing I know is that raising the boys is like a theme park. We get up and start early. All is fresh and clean. Slowly we orient ourselves to the options and study the map, making choices. We make our way through and cautiously try out the less intimidating rides. The smells and sounds of all that it offers surround us as we make our way through: cotton candy, summer days, laughter, tears, footsteps, mechanics of the rides. All of these beat out a steady rhythm. What accompanies them with a massive resonance is the clank clank clank of the roller coaster making its ascent to begin its fast and furious ride.

Initially, there is not any interest in the roller coaster ride. Contentment for the cotton candy and the train rides exists. But as the day hits the high noon heat, their eyes fix upon the roller coaster and they begin to show excitement toward all that it offers. Nothing will do now but to ride it. We resist initially, knowing all the while it is fruitless.

Acquiescing finally, we all head over to it and wait in its redundant winding line. Monotony pervades, but we each survive the wait and go to board the electric monster. We see fear. We see fun. We see families. We watch all the while, waiting for our turn. While waiting, time seems to crawl slowly along. The last bend is reached. We hit the queues that determine our car. Time hits turbo speed and we quickly board. Final fears are forgotten. We are strapped in. We must go now. The roller coaster ride is fast. We scream. We laugh. We laugh until we have tears. We go up. We twist. We turn. We look around when we think to, and see with a new vision. We ache as its pressures reign down on us. We go down. We screech to a halt.

It is over. As fast as it began it ends. We are not sure what happened. We are disoriented. We are confused. We are still laughing as the endorphins finish out their symphony in our minds. What just happened wasn't much - and in the final analysis it wasn't near enough. People do it all the time. A roller coaster is a quickly thrill. An easy clean high.

But - in the final analysis - we are done and we must go, regardless of the monumental truth we now face: what we are left with are two boys that have crossed a hurdle. That will be content no longer with the kiddie section of the park. One simple ride - all its curves and climbs and thrills and turns - and they are changed. 

School is that roller coaster, dressed differently, and sounding much quieter, but nonetheless taking our children and - time hitting that turbo speed - rushing them through 13 years in what seems like 15 days. The bell rings. We are strapped in. We must go now. The "roller coaster" ride is fast. We scream. We laugh. We laugh until we have tears. We go up. We twist. We turn. We look around when we think to, and see with a new vision. We ache as its pressures reign down on us. We go down. We screech to a halt. As fast as it began it ends. They have diplomas in their hands. We are done. The ride is over.

It's that time to leave the park. Other things await us all now.

Toy Story 3 ~ Family Movie Adventure ~ June 2010
Sketch Credit: Inspired by May Flaum's Camp Scrap Class
Paper: October Afternoon, Girls Paperie
Title: Screenshot of movie image, printed on photo paper, and hand cut (I would probably do it on the Cameo now, though. Technology advances with that beast, Time.)

1 comment:

  1. Pass the tissue box please :sniff:
    Thank you for sharing that story Penny.