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Parenthood, Measured in Disney Channel Increments

At the end of the day, it's only the memories of happy laughter that remain.
You’ll know them when they happen.

Moments to savor …

You’ll know them when they happen. They’re those fleeting, rapturous seconds in time that whittle themselves into your memory like totems.

I had one yesterday.

It involved four kids packed like sausages into the backseat of a temperamental Hyundai, even though the front passenger seat was unoccupied–togetherness, you know. All were singing along whole-heartedly to the soundtrack from “Phineas and Ferb the Movie:  Across the Second Dimension.”

“So come home, Perry. Come home Perry, come ho—o—ome. Come home, Perry. Come home, Perry, come home …”

My daughter was belting out the Candace role, because being Candace comes pretty natural to her, (Mooooom, Robbie and Heath are filming a title sequence!) and the boys were carrying the tune along nicely.

Their small voices and the gusto with which they used them were inspiring, and I found myself thinking how cool it would be were our pet beagle really a secret agent platypus in disguise.

This was the moment I realized how much I am going to miss the Disney Channel Days when they’re gone.

We started with “Little Einsteins,” and we’ve slowly but surely worked our way up each rung of the Disney Channel ladder until arriving, with delight, at “Austin & Ally.” For a few years, Nickelodeon distracted us with those glorious under-the-sea tales of “Spongebob Squarepants” and the romantic antics of “iCarly,” but at the end of the day, we’ve always come home to Disney.

The first movie my son ever saw in a theater was “Cars,” and I’ll never forget the amazement on his 4-year-old face when Lightning McQueen filled the big screen in the opening scene:  “I … am … speed.” And later, it was the soundtrack from “Wall-e” that lulled him to sleep each night – the CD spinning quietly inside the retro player that was purchased because it looked just like the grill of Doc Hudson.

Meanwhile, my daughter’s first birthday cake was decorated with clownfish, her second with that willy-nilly, silly old bear who had the rumbly always in his tumbly.

And even I cried an uncharacteristic river of mom-tears in the theater when “Toy Story 3” came to town. Thank God for those camouflaging 3D glasses, because I began sniffling at the opening credits and by the time Andy drove away from Bonnie’s front porch, I was a useless, wailing lump in a cushy, velour seat. Making Andy grow up was unnecessary and cruel, Disney. STOP DOING THAT.

There was very little Barbie in our house, but tons of Potato Head doing his Picasso impersonation and Sheriff Woody practicing acrobatics off the foot of the aging recliner. There were heffalump sing-alongs and Tigger and Roo Halloween costumes and attempts to collect every vehicle that ever frequented the parking lot of Flo’s V8 Café in Radiator Springs. There was Evil Dr. Porkchop toting death by monkeys and, most recently,  “Let it Go” picked out on school instruments in the living room.

Good times. Good times.

Yes, Disney franchise, you’ve been a great and loyal friend, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that I worry about the day my kids will be too old to appreciate you.

Indeed, we watch too much television at our house. But at the end of the day, it’s only the memories of hours filled with happy laughter that remain. That, and the enthusiastic, off-key harmonization of four kids lamenting a lost platypus in the back seat of an aging Hyundai.

Moments to savor … you’ll know them when they happen.

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Image Credit:  Happy Family by Catherine Scott

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