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Suzanne Power: Toy Story: A lesson in making memories

We just got back from the cinema having seen Toy Story 3 on its first day of release.

My boys are nine in August. Woody, Buzz and Jesse are part of their childhood. We didn't take them to see the first two instalments in the cinema, they weren't even embryos, but I have worn out copies of TS1 and TS2, which I cannot part with. We watched them millions of times, a hot little hand in mine, squeezing at every plot turn.

Seeing Toy Story encouraged a plethora of Pixar-related memorabilia. One was a book that made the sounds of the characters. I can still hear those sounds when I close my eyes. I can still hear the history.

There was a man behind me with a baby in his arms. He had to get up and leave several times as she shouted out her discontent. I met him in the corridor when I went for extra popcorn.

"I might as well be at home," he grumbled. He was 15 when he saw the first film with his little brother, who is now in Australia. He had the look of a lot of 30-something fathers -- worn out, not sure of what lies ahead. But he was there, making history with his family. Making active memories to carry into the future.

By the time we finished talking in the corridor his child was asleep in his arms and I was fighting against the next influx, to see the next showing. I went back empty handed. After a few disgruntled minutes I felt a hand that's bigger, but still smaller, slip into mine, when Woody and his plastic kinsmen were dumped in a rubbish truck.

All the toys that broke, bent and left our lives. All the clutter I thought would never end. Now it has. They're into the virtual rather than the hand-held. They're moving on. And they're leaving me behind. I want to rewind the years and go back to being a mother of small kids who couldn't wait until they were grown-up enough to buckle themselves into car seats.

Now that day is here and I have, at the midpoint of their childhood, one more blink until they're gone. The job I've loved most is half done. The career that is so hidden and more rewarding than any I got paid for is less demanding because they are. Each year brings new challenges, but also new freedoms. I can shower without keeping an ear out and cross the street without holding their hands.

I can't hold their hand in public anymore. They wince and pull away. They hate to be reminded they were once babies, and so do I. That was a fraught, outrageous, miraculous time. Now it's calmer and I am more myself, and less with them.

Like all separations it takes place naturally and without knowing. This summer is the first I have time to put up the pictures that remind me of them and what we once were. I see a 30-something mother, one child kissing her face and another clambering to get on her knee. I am so happy, but I can't know it, because in two minutes' time I'll have a nappy to change and dinner to make and a mess that never ends to clear up.

Hold on to every moment, people. Make more time for your family story. One day your Andies will leave for new lives. You'll be left with worn DVDs instead of small faces. And you'll ache for a sequel that's not coming until grandchildren. Make as many memories as you can.


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