Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of the Walt Disney Company. This post may contain spoilers from the film Christopher Robin.
We’ve always been major Winnie the Pooh fans in my house, which is why we bounced with the exuberance of Tigger (sorry, had to) when we headed to the theater over the weekend to see Christopher Robin. The movie follows the grown-up version of its namesake, played by the amazing Ewan McGregor, years after he’s left the make-believe world of the Hundred Acre Wood behind.
After watching the trailer, I fully expected the movie to be all about the sorrow of leaving childhood memories in the past. And while the first few scenes definitely hit upon those themes, as Christopher Robin says goodbye to Pooh and the gang while heading off to boarding school, the film’s central message is ultimately about so much more than just the loss of childhood wonder.
“Silly old bear,” Christopher Robin says to Pooh before he leaves, “I wouldn’t ever forget about you … I promise. Not even when I’m 100.”
But before long, it seems he has.
We soon fast-forward through boarding school, the traumatic years spent fighting in the war, falling in love, and getting married. Our beloved Christopher Robin suddenly isn’t so little anymore — he’s now a husband, father, and hardworking “efficiency manager,” who toils away in his high-pressured job at a luggage manufacturing company for much of the week.
He’s also buried in stress while trying to support his family — a plot point I don’t think a parent out there can’t relate to.
Christopher is tasked with cutting the budget in order to save his company, and is told to come up with a plan all in one weekend. Of course, this means even more time spent away from his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), who have been looking forward to a family trip to the country.
“You’ll be working this weekend?” Evelyn asks her husband, who tells her that it “can’t be helped.”
“Father, I never see you,” Madeline pleads, in a moment that just about broke my heart in two.
And that’s when Evelyn delivers a line that still hasn’t left me: “Your life is happening now,” she tells him, “right in front of you.”
It’s a reminder Christopher clearly needs to hear; and one I suspect most of us grown-ups could stand to hear a bit more, as well.
Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long for Christopher’s old friend Pooh to trek all the way from the Hundred Acre Wood and bring him on the adventure of a lifetime, reuniting him with childhood memories, sparking his imagination, and forcing him to confront his own irritated, distracted grown-up self — the man who works 24/7, rarely sees his family, and has lost all sense of play and wonder.
Like so many of us jaded adults, Christopher begins to realize that he’s lost his grip on what really matters most to him in life. And no, it’s not making more money, having more success, or moving up the career-ladder — it’s his wife and daughter.
Madeline’s childhood will be over just as quickly as his once was; time will not wait.
I can’t tell you how hard this one hit me. Being a parent often feels like an endless slog of tackling one responsibility after another. Between managing a career, keeping the house (somewhat) decent, and dealing with our kids’ busy schedules and endless needs, it can feel like there’s barely room to breathe, let alone spend quality time with our children.
But just as Evelyn Robin reminds her husband, Your life is happening now, right in front of you. What our kids need more than anything else in the world is our presence. It’s really just as simple as that.
They need us to show up, in body and mind. And not just to schlep them from one activity to the next, or to nag them to do chores or homework. They need us to sit down and read that extra chapter at night. To cuddle just a little bit longer. To get down on the floor and play with them.
Or, as Pooh says, to do a little more “nothing” together all day. Because “doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.”
(Man, I could stand to do a whole lot more of “nothing” myself, couldn’t you?)
I didn’t realize how badly I needed this reminder in my life right now — and I know I’m not alone. With summer almost over, now’s the time to put my phone down, spend a little more time saying “no” to my never-ending pile of grown-up obligations, and a whole lot more time saying “yes” to my kids.
I think I’m up for the task. Are you?