Warning: If you haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet, Here Be SPOILERS.
I saw Toy Story when it came out fifteen years ago and fell madly in love with it straight away. That love has only increased with the passage of time.
Shortly afterwards, the not-yet-Mrs. AKA bought me a Buzz Lightyear for my birthday - a gift that proudly sat on a shelf in my home office, occasionally taken down so that I could press the button which would allow him to call out to me. “This is an intergalactic emergency!“. “I am Buzz Lightyear. I come in peace”. “To Infinity And Beyond!”.
The fact that I was well into my twenties was irrelevant. I was Andy, and Buzz was my toy and everything was as it should be.
Four years later, I saw Toy Story 2 and my love for Andy’s toys continued to grow. (Although I flout conventional wisdom by maintaining that the first remains the finest in the series.)
Fast-forward. My daughter was not even two year’s old when she pulled my Toy Story DVD down off the shelf. It was the first film that she ever watched from beginning to end, riveted to the screen and falling in love with Woody, Buzz and the gang in the same way that I had a decade earlier. Soon after, she took the Buzz Lightyear down off my office shelf, and then toddled over to my desk to grab a black Sharpie and press it into my palm. She told me that she wanted me to write her name on the sole of one of Buzz’s feet, just like Andy did with his toys. My Buzz Lightyear was now her Buzz Lightyear.
As the years have passed, we’ve both seen the first two Toy Story movies so many times that we can quote whole reams of them verbatim. They are as exciting and funny and moving as they’ve always been, and we never tire of them. From a solitary Buzz Lightyear, her cache of toys has grown to include all the main players in the Toy Story saga. Woody is her favourite. She will plant his hat on his head at a suitably rakish angle, yank the pull-cord on his back and grin in delight as he tells her that “You’re my favourite deputy!”, before planting him on the back of his trusty steed Bullseye for a ride around the carpet.
Last month, we finally went to see Toy Story 3 together (in glorious 2D). I don’t know which one of us cried more. She was inconsolable as Andy finally said goodbye to his toys. I scooped her up into my arms to reassure her that this was a happy ending, that the toys were getting what they’d always wanted - someone who would love them and play with them. But as her little body trembled with sobs, I was choking back hard on my own emotions. Because I finally realised that I’d been wrong all along. I wasn’t Andy. I was Woody. And one day, my daughter will grow up and put away her childish things.
I’ll just hold on to what Woody tells Buzz at the end of Toy Story 2: “It’ll be fun while it lasts.”