Toy stories

So we just watched “Toy Story 3.”

Phoebe received it on DVD as a birthday gift from Grandma and Grandpa S., along with a copy of the original “Toy Story” from Uncle Orrin and Aunt Kelli. Add those to the copy of “Toy Story 2” she got for Christmas and our trilogy is now complete. … It beats the heck out of our 10-year-old taped-off-the-TV low-quality VHS tapes that Phoebe was watching repeatedly last summer. 

We put off watching “Toy Story 3” for weeks in part because we wanted to be sure to watch it on a night when we could enjoy it as a family and devote our full attention to it. We also put it off in part because Kates and I had heard all the talk about what an emotional roller coaster the film is and how no one’s lived through it without reaching for the Kleenex box.

For the most part, it held up. The ending was a heart warmer and Kates was wiping the tears from her eyes, while Phoebe stood at the edge of our coffee table -- eyes glued to the TV, jaw agape and sucking in every second, trying to make sense of it all.

Although, it was quite a bit more intense than we anticipated. … The bulk of the storyline centers on the toys’ latest adventure at a daycare, where the kids treat them harshly and their toy counterparts take pleasure in watching their destruction by day and locking them up in cells by night. There’s a lot of prison metaphors, dark scenery and a whole lot of dramatic music to get your heart going.

In fact, there were moments that Kates and I wondered why we thought it was a good idea to watch it with Phoebe. The film hits hardest as Woody and the gang brace to be consumed by a trash incinerator …

But back to the happy ending. The film introduces us to a little girl, Bonnie, who has a wild imagination … And, well, leave it to me to start drawing the parallels from the film and Bonnie and the toys to Phoebe.

When the credits started rolling, Phoebe looked at us and said in her little voice, “I wanna watch it again.” We responded with “Maybe tomorrow …” and then she was off to her room to begin getting ready for bed. I listened with pride and joy as Kates helped Phoebe in the bathroom. Phoebe practiced her counting -- one of her new favorite pasttimes is counting to 30 -- and asked her favorite question of the week, “Mommy, know what time it is?”

“It’s 9:32,” Kates says.
“What comes after that?”
“What comes after that?”
“What comes after that?””

… Seriously. Phoebe would go all night if we let her.

Pretty soon, Kates was reading Phoebe her bedtime stories. And as I looked around Phoebe’s room and looked at the faces of all of her favorite toys -- Lowly, Lammy, her baby dolls -- I was seeing them alive with a contentment for the way Phoebe loves them. Dang “Toy Story” messing with my mind.

I left the room, and Kates finished off the bedtime ritual, tucking Phoebe into her tent -- the tent Uncle Joel and Aunt Stephanie gave her for her birthday; she’s slept in it every night since.

Kates joined me in the living room. … And a minute layer, a wimpering Phoebe came down the hallway. “I didn’t give Daddy a hug and a kiss,” she said.

My heart melting, I rose from the couch, gave her a bear hug and lifted her up to my shoulders. I carried her back to her room and lowered her to the floor. She crawled back into her tent, grabbing Lowly and Lammy along the way, and let me cover her with one of her blankets.

“Uh oh, where’s Lowly?” Phoebe said. She had lost him in her sea of blankets and pillows.

We found him by her feet. I picked him up, handed him to her and began tucking her in once more. “Hold them tight,” I said.

“Ok, I will,” Phoebe said.

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