Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Disney movies.
And yes, anyone who knows me well would say that’s not surprising. After all, my family’s getting ready to go on our eighth trip to Disney World. When a new Disney movie hits theaters, I’m as excited for it as any superhero blockbuster. And I know the lyrics to nearly every Disney song.
So, yes, I’ve had Disney on the brain – but not because of an upcoming vacation, favorite movie, or catchy tune.
I’ve been thinking about those movies that remind us of that simple (but sometimes sad) fact: We all grow up.
And OK, growing up isn’t all that bad. At 24, I’m well into adulthood.
And, yes, there are times I feel a bit like this Facebook meme: “I have decided that I no longer want to be an adult… if anyone needs me, I will be in my blanket fort, coloring.”
But, for the most part adulthood simply means getting older and becoming a bit more mature.
Sometimes, however, you’re reminded of the changes that come with growing up – some good, some bad, but all much faster than you could have ever imagined.
Which brings me back to Disney movies – because when it comes to recalling childhood, nobody does it better than Disney.
But I’ve not been drawn to Disney because of my own nostalgia. Nah, I came to terms with my grown-up-ness long ago.
I’ve been thinking of Disney movies because on Aug. 19 my brother will start his senior year of high school. And, in my mind, he’s still about 12 years old… and I can’t quite picture him filling out scholarships, or getting a diploma, or eventually (gulp) moving into a college dorm.
Now, I have no doubt that Seth will excel, because he is a smart, determined young man with a good head on his shoulders. And I doubt I could put into words how proud I am of my brother.
But still, as I think of where we will be this time next summer – planning for move-in day and shopping for dorm supplies – I can’t help but wonder: Can sisters get empty nest syndrome, too?
Which brings me back to all of those Disney movies.
Because adulthood comes with letting go, just like when Andy gave up Woody and the gang in “Toy Story 3.”
And that applies to parents, too, just as Marlin learned with his son in “Finding Nemo.”
But letting go is never simple: You give up one thing, gain something else. Just like Disney/Pixar’s newest movie “Inside Out.” Growing up comes with changes, often wrought with emotions.
And really, we are always preparing youngsters for that transition. Each summer as school starts and summer vacation ends, students learn to let go of carefree hours for class schedules. But it also means seeing friends and learning something new.
We learn from a young age that life is a series of trades and compromises.
And while that might seem like a desolate idea, it’s actually not. Because, yes, we are constantly letting go and losing, but we are also always gaining and growing – even when we’re adults.
Because something strange happened when my family and I first went to see “Toy Story 3.”
Like many, we teared up at the end. Why? Because at that time I was a college sophomore and we all understood immediately what Andy felt as he first said goodbye to his mom, then gave his toys to little Bonnie, and then finally drove away to embark on the next chapter of his life.
Others in the audience who were about my age, or who clearly had adult-age children, had the same reaction. But those with small children? They were fine.
Just wait, I thought.
But those two simple words – just wait – might actually have more meaning for those students entering their senior year of high school.
This next year will go quickly – that’s a guarantee. To use an old adage, you’ll “rule the school,” and you will feel as though your future is unlimited at graduation. And that is all true, in many ways.
But please, just wait. Plan for the future. Be excited about it. But please, don’t forget to also enjoy the here and now, to relish the moment.
I know that growing up seems like a precious treasure and you simply can’t wait until it’s your’s and you can wear it like a crown.
But please, don’t be too quick to trade away your childhood.
And above all, even once you’ve crossed that threshold, don’t feel embarrassed to keep a bit of your childhood alive inside of you.
Because that’s the real treasure.
As Walt Disney himself once said, “Adults are only kids grown up.”
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.