The innocence of childhood

The other day, I let Alex watch Toy Story 3 for the first time. He loves Toy Story 1 and 2, but I had always felt that the 3rd one was a little mature for a preschooler. Let’s face it: that pink bear is quite nasty. And the baby doll is very a little creepy at times. But I figured that seeing as he had been introduced the characters during the Disney on ice show, that it would be ok for him to watch. (And if I am perfectly honest, I could not bear to watch Cars or Cars 2 for the five-millionth time!)

So while Caris had her afternoon nap, Alex gathered up his Toy Story friends and we started watching the movie. (When we watch Cars, the Radiator Springs Gang and all the Racing Cars are gathered to re-enact movie scenes while he watches.) After some time, he looked at me with his blue eyes, wide and filled with such sadness, and asked me “Why doesn’t Andy want to play with his toys anymore?” I was quite taken aback.  So I explained, while fighting back the lump in my throat, that when children grow up, their interests change and they don’t play with toys anymore. He took a while to digest what I had said, and then responded,  “I will always want to play with my toys!” (… and continued playing with his Toy Story figurines, hardly paying much attention to the movie as he was so engrossed in his make-believe world.)  For me this perfectly illustrates how innocent children are, and how wonderful it is that they are happy to lose themselves in an imaginary world. And that they cannot imagine not playing!

I love the fact that Alex gets completely lost in his games, and how his toys, whether they are trains, sea creatures, cars or people, have conversations and interactions with each other. He becomes totally immersed in his own little world, and it is so cute to watch. I do not have many memories of my own early childhood, but I do remember how much I loved my Barbie dolls, and how for me, they were real. I can remember setting up bedrooms, kitchens and lounges for my doll families to live in; and how they had tea parties and luncheons, while sitting in their (very 70’s!) basket chairs. (…And how much I loved changing their outfits and shoes, of course!)

It is hard for me to imagine a time, when Alex will not be a child anymore, and how he will inevitably morph into a sulky, moody teenager, much like the teenage Andy in Toy Story. How his love of playing imaginary games with his toys will be replaced by going out with friends, and being interested in girls and the like. And sadly, time seems to be flying by so quickly; it’s hard to believe that he will already be four years old in two weeks time. It is a pity really, that childhood is such a small percentage of one’s overall lifespan. And how, when we are children, we do not really appreciate how golden this time is, or how wonderful it is to be able to disappear into one’s own imagination. (Before the responsibility of having homework, having to study, and ultimately having to earn a living kicks in.)

Just last night, while he and Gary were playing with the Toy Story Gang (Only because  his absolute favourite Radiator Springs Bunch was in the box of cars downstairs), I had to smile as he announced, “Quick everybody, HIDE! The BABIES are coming, and they will BREAK us!” because Caris had approached the bed, eager to join in on the fun.

Long may he play, and be immersed in that beautiful imagination … (and I hope that one day, when he has children of his own, he will lose himself once again, in imaginary games with his little ones.)

{Some grainy cell-phone pics of play-time}

{Trains, trains, everywhere…}

{Woody Rescuing Lighting with my shoe!}

{Play-time at Nanna’s house}

{This “Lightning” guy shows up EVERYWHERE}

3 Replies to “The innocence of childhood”

  1. It sounds like Alex and Zoe would get on like a house on fire. She is totally besotted with her Toy Story Gang too and often recites part of Toy Story while she is playing with them, its so cute! We must really enjoy this innocent stage of childhood. It’s priceless.

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