I HAD intended to write a typical film review when my family and I watched Beauty and the Beast. I first saw the cartoon movie version with my parents when I was a young girl. Angela Lansbury’s rendition of the theme song, as Mrs. Potts singing to Chip, will forever be stuck in my head. Belle’s somewhat of a cuckoo inventor father, Maurice, is another unforgettable unique character I always remember. Later on as an adult, I saw the theatrical version on Broadway in NYC, while pregnant with my oldest child.
Now, it is poignant for me that I get the opportunity to watch it again here in my beloved boondocks with my oldest kid, who is a teenager (along with my preteen and pre-schooler). The last time she saw the cartoon must have been when she was around 8yrs old. She’s so over princesses these days. Time flies!
As writing an article sometimes goes, this review magically morphed into a different story that took a life of its own…
My only daughter looks pointedly at me upon hearing Belle sing, "I want so much more than this provincial life!" She elbows my side and whispers, "I think that's our song!"
"No, darling. That's just yours!" I say softly, matter-of-factly, with no tone of reproach. I give her a gentle smile to assure her that her choice is okay. She has to be as “true as it can be” to her heart no matter what. I quickly add, "Remember, I am now promdi (from the province) and proud!"
She wrinkles her face in disapproval and aversion. I know she is dying to get out of here-this “little town, it’s a quiet village; everyday like the one before” -and study elsewhere. I can’t blame her. She’s still young and has fire in her heart all the way to her feet, itching to run wild and free. I believe the song perfectly sums up what's in her head: "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."
My daughter is a true blue Jersey girl, born in the Garden State at the peak of autumn. When she was diagnosed with heart disease a few years back, she had to stay with her grandma and study again in the States for a little while, until she finished her check up. I had just given birth then and could not accompany her. I would like to think she missed us, but I have a feeling she had way too much fun to feel morose. Bless our Mamang for making sure she was happily occupied!
She is only in her early-teens now and is raring to study high school there again. Her dad reckons it is too soon to let her go. One of the constant struggles parents experience as we watch our kids grow is finding a healthy balance between letting them freely explore the "big bad world" and finding ways to stay connected to them. Definitely as children grow older, they need us less…until such a time that they don’t even need us at all.
Sad! But that's a fact of life.
The path parents are on is bittersweet. Sometimes, it even feels as if it is paved with tears—both the happy and sad kind.
As little helpless newborns, we devote most of our time and energy in caring for our kids. We nurture them and watch them grow—little by little, step by step. Gradually, these kids develop confidence, and soon enough they want to explore and traverse their own paths. It seems the healthy side effect of all that constant nurturing and parenting is that our kids will feel confident enough to leave us. Leave!!!
What can we do about that? Nothing! As Belle’s dad, Maurice, laments via song: “How does a moment last forever? How can a story never die? It is love we must hold onto. Never easy, but we try.” Indeed, as parents, we can only try. We only have the magic of our memories to cling onto, and let’s hope that those too won’t ever fade.
Children will all leave at some point: either by physical distance, emotional distance, or both. Parents will definitely feel an ache and an emptiness about not being needed (or even wanted) as strongly as when our children were still itty-bitty young creatures. Every parent shares this common struggle.
We just have to ensure we establish a strong emotional bond with our kids so that wherever the wind takes them, we can all be secure in our love for each other. We can only continue to teach our children that life is beautiful, continue to make memories while they’re still with us, and continue to give them our best because it is only through these that we give them the wings to fly. And we can only hope and pray they don’t meet a conceited Gaston, and they can all have their happily-ever-afters!
Who would have thought watching Beauty and the Beast would bring all these feelings into the forefront. But this story of unconditional love between parents and children is "a tale as old as time". No matter where parents are, thoughts of their own kids will always be at the back of their minds...”certain as the sun rising in the east”, always and forever, no matter how old these kids become. The End.