I’m Staying Right Here
Friday Family Movie Night is usually a fun time where we cozy up with a light-hearted cartoon and eat popcorn and M&M’s. The kids usually go to bed with smiles. Our most recent family movie night featured Disney’s Toy Story 3, and although the kids have seen it umpteen times, this time there were some questions.
In the last scene, Andy’s car is all packed up and he’s ready to drive away to college. He leaves his toys to the next kid, Bonnie, and in a flash, Andy’s all grown up.
“Where’s he going?” my son asked.
“Away to college,” I explained.
“Where is that?”
“Well, it can be in the same town, or in another city, or out of state. It’s more school. After you’re finished with elementary school, middle school, and high school.”
My son was perplexed. Had we really not had a talk about college? I realized we’d talked about college—said the word, at least—but we had not had a real discussion about it. I understood my son needed more information.
“Once you turn about 18 and finish high school, many kids move away from home to go to college. It’s more learning. It’s a school and you live there. In a dormitory. A dorm is like a hotel where all the students live. In the daytime they go to classes. One day you’ll grow up and go to college.”
My son was thinking, though he was disturbed.
“No,” he said. “I’m not going. I’m staying right here.”
It was one of those moments when I almost came unstitched. One from the painful sweetness of his affirmation to “stay right here,” as in our home, and also for the comedic innocence of his understanding that he would actually have to live at a school one day. The little guy is in first grade.
Please note, I was already holding back my tears explaining that one day he would grow up, so when he said he was staying right here, it slayed me. I held him so close and whispered to him he doesn’t have to go, that he can stay with us.
With my parenting telescope, I can glimpse a future where I know this isn’t true. One day, someday, my children will grow up. But I suppose we can slow that process down, perhaps assist in building the mindset that they never have to leave home. That it will always be here. That it is a safe, nurturing place, and that no matter how young or old they are, they’re always welcome.