Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Losing one's childhood
We're having a minor crisis at our house. Natasha Richardson died today and both Olivia and Allison were so shocked and sad to hear of it. "She was our childhood!" they both exclaimed independent of the other. She was the mom character in The Parent Trap with Dennis Quaid and Lindsay Lohan. If I'm going to be brutally honest with myself, I know she was the fantasy nice, cool mother they wished they had. That whole scene in the movie, where Elizabeth gets the phone call in her feminine, pillowy bedroom she doesn't have to share with a stinky man, and she's sketching gowns in bed with her daughter lovingly looking on, and then has to run down to her boutique High Street bridal shop to help Vendela and the photographer fluff the beautiful wedding dress and invites Hallie to come and run around and try stuff on and be in the pictures? Are you kidding me? No real mother can compete with that--almost more brutal than Disney's killing off the Mom. Even so, The Parent Trap was one of those VCR tapes Chip and I were always happy to watch again and again. A guilty pleasure, that one. Something for everybody...Dennis for me, Natasha for Chip, Lindsay for the girls.
It got me thinking about two things. One, how laughable it is that my kids think they're childhoods are over. It sure doesn't feel over for me, everyday when they need help lifting the spoonfuls of food to their mouths. And two, the nature of pop culture figures and the feelings of intimacy we develop with some. I remember when Freddie Prinze died (elementary school for me) and I was devastated. I apparently was in love with him and cried in my bed, embarrassed my parents would discover that I was in love with Chico. And John Lennon. I was 17, and I cried and cried the night he died. As all my Beatles albums were actually hand-me-downs from my parents, I think it felt like the loss of my childhood that night. And Princess Diana. I was in my thirties by then but through photographs and a rough parallelling of life's milestones (marriage, children, skiing in St. Moritz), I felt I had lost a very glamorous friend. Do we lose a little bit of ourselves represented in that stage of life when we saw the movie or heard the song? It does feel like we lost something especially innocent today. Even when you're 14 and 16, I guess you still feel like you have a past.