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LUCKY: Growing Up With The Parent Trap

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I don’t remember exactly how my passion for The Parent Trap was revived. As far as I can recall, I was sitting around with a few of my friends listening to the La’s “There She Goes.” It was funny, how we all turned to each other and said, “Hey, that’s the song from The Parent Trap,” launching a nostalgic conversation about the movie, with all of us quoting different parts or excitedly singing songs from the soundtrack.


And that’s when I realized how lucky we were. Because almost every one of my girl friends my age can proclaim their love for that movie, for a particular scene, a particular line, and even a younger Lindsay Lohan. And how many of today’s young girls can do that? With dozens of new movies out every few months, it’s hard to latch onto just one. How many of today’s young girls growing up can name just one movie as their favorite, and have all their friends nodding in agreement?

Of course, I was only six when I first watched the movie, but from that moment on, it became an integral part of my childhood. I remember one summer in particular, when I was just out of first grade and my little sister was probably just starting school, when we were left to amuse ourselves in the non-air conditioned apartment we were renting in Israel for six weeks. We could literally entertain ourselves for hours upon hours reenacting scenes from the movie. We would choose to play either Hallie or Annie, and then excitedly rustle through our suitcases for clothing we knew would work perfectly as their costumes. And then we’d just lose ourselves in the realm of imagination, and I would only pause every so often, breaking character to inform my little sister of the correct wording for the line she was quoting.


I associate so many vivid and poignant memories with the movie—it’s intense. I remember discussing the movie with someone, and discovering that Hallie and Lindsay were both played by the same actress. A little piece of me died that day, when I realized that the two girls I had grown up with were really one and the same. I consoled myself by deciding to admire the one girl doubly, but only after earnestly asking grown-up after grown-up whether they really were the same answer, only believing after seeing their slow nods. I wasn’t the only one of my friends living under that illusion—when I, shocked and disappointed, reported the news to my friends, they, too, could hardly believe their ears. I find it hard to imagine any of today’s jaded pre-teens reacting to the news as we did—they’d probably already know, have read it in their gossip magazines, excluding perhaps the odd kid here and there who discovers that Hannah Montana is really Miley Cyrus…

I recall sitting at the computer in our classroom in fifth grade, searching something about the movie (yes, four years later!). And I just couldn’t remember who played Hallie and Annie in the movie so I turned to one of my friends and asked her, not even introducing the question with a, “Have you seen this movie called The Parent Trap?” Because it wasn’t even a question—every girl my age had seen this movie, had loved it for years. She replied, after careful consideration, her brows furrowed with deliberation, “I think it’s Lindsay Lohan…” I find it sad, sometimes, to think that a few years ago, Lindsay’s name wasn’t on the tip of every fifth grader’s tongue—fast forward to today’s ten-year-olds, with their Bedazzled cell phones and blasting iPods, flipping through People magazine, encountering pictures of Lindsay’s tired eyes, stories of her crazy antics.

I know that at this point I’m probably starting to sound like an old grandmother-type, talking about the good ‘ol days when I’d have walked seventeen miles to school in the snow. But that’s just it—I associate The Parent Trap (and hence, my childhood) with that very phrase—the good ‘ol days! Because they really were innocent and carefree—our lives were untouched by the Internet, the constant glare of digital cameras (we had Polaroids or disposables!!)—instead we were blessed to be the target audience for Disney classics-to-be (Hercules, Little Mermaid, Lion King—we were the kids buying those movies, singing those songs!), the kids privileged to grow up on certain movies, lucky enough to not be embarrassed to fall in love with a G-rated movie.

It’s weird, but I sometimes think of kids my age as the last group of kids to blissfully transpose from childhood to preteen-hood with a sort of preserved innocence. I know its wishful thinking to impose that innocence upon every kid my age, but as far as the girls, and even the boys who I grew up with, it sure seems that way. I look at pictures of myself as a fifth, sixth, maybe even seventh grader, and I see it in my eyes, in my clothes, even in the book I am usually looking up from to smile: this clarity, this sense of contentment. It’s as if I’m looking up at the camera and saying, “I’m eleven—why shouldn’t I be happy and carefree?” I know there are a few of those kids still out there, the ten and eleven year olds still fiercely clinging on to the fringes of their condensed childhood, but it can’t be easy, with their “too cool for this childhood business” friends pursing their glossed lips while texting furiously.

There are more obstacles, now. The world seems busier and more technologically advanced, but still, somehow, less focused on what truly matters. With the “new” childhood children now get handed, there is very little time to grow up, and, influenced by a culture always clamoring for the latest gadget, most recent news, latest emails, missed calls and Facebook notifications, very few children feel compelled to enjoy even those few precious years, instead joining their parents and siblings in clamoring for the latest gadget, most recent news, latest emails, missed calls, and Facebook notifications.

And I want to tell them, tell these nine year old teenagers-in-training to not let those valuable years fly past them in a blur of iPod headphones, phone chargers, and laptops. Because I’m sure there must be something more than that to being a kid. Because I’m sure there must be something beyond the jaded looks on fourth-graders’ faces as they barely bat an eye at racy scenes or the crude language being thrown at them from the screen of the PG-13 movie their parents invite them to. Because I’m sure that there must be something meaningful about being young and carefree, small and innocent. I want to tell them that there’s nothing wrong with acting your age, with enjoying childhood.

Every time I think about The Parent Trap, I think about my own childhood, and the days that I recall seem long and lazy, full of sunny afternoons on the school playground trading sticker collections on or drawing hearts on my friends’ hands with sparkly new gel pens. The Parent Trap never ceases to evoke powerful memories of happy times, of innocence and contentment, emotions I long for the kids of today to experience; I want movies like The Parent Trap to exist, if only to provide a sloid foundation for childhood nostalgia.

But since I’m only fifteen myself, discussing the movie also simply makes me want to watch it again, but this time surrounded by a group of my friends. I want to watch them collapse on the sofa; I want to see their faces, harrowed with work and high school stress and drama, melt into smiles; I want to see their eyes crinkle with laughter, their cheeks flush with excitement. I want to hear their nostalgic murmurings throughout the movie; I want to hear their off-key renditions of the soundtrack songs they never knew they knew so well until they heard them again. And I want to join them there, to be transported back to my childhood, to once again be that little freckled six year old girl fiercely determined to reenact the particular scene from the movie accurately, to be once more pulled into the endearing world of The Parent Trap.

When I think of The Parent Trap, I just feel very, very lucky for being among those privileged enough to grow up with this movie and to really experience the joys of childhood.





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happynoni said...
Sept. 15, 2008 at 4:33 pm
BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN! WHAT MORE COULD I SAY! THERE WILL BE MUCH MORE TO COME FROM THIS GREAT WRITER!
 
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