Growing up…the most natural thing in the world, yet so difficult for parents to watch as their own children finish school, move out, and become adults themselves. The most bizarre reality check often comes when the characters their children loved as children also grow up. Immune to the Peter Pan syndrome, fictional friends, cartoon or human, also age with time. And few are more heartbreaking than Harry Potter and Andy from Toy Story. Image via Wikipedia
With the latest and final installment of the Harry Potter movie franchise, children and parents alike flocked to the theaters in masses. Gone are the adorable nine-year-olds causing havoc at Hogwarts; in their place are early twenty-somethings tackling real-life reality. Children who grew up reading and watching Harry Potter are now young adults themselves, seeing an older version of their favorite character is like looking in the mirror at their own lives. Their parents, however, watch with a nostalgia of their own as they see their child's innocent wish for a magic wand or wizard's cape quickly disappear.
And what about Andy from Toy Story, who isn't even portrayed by a real human actor? In the third and latest Toy Story film, he donates his childhood toys and is ready to leave for college. While the original younger fans may have outgrown the series, any parent who sat through all three films felt a lump in their throat knowing the subject hits all too close to home. Not only might they have a child embarking on his or her college career, they also miss the little kid who just a few years begged for a Buzz Lightyear doll for Christmas.
Unlike Barbie, Superman, or the eternally Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, some movie characters, human or computer generated, actually do grow up. The child admirers themselves, aging simultaneously and eventually growing out of their fan phase, are not the ones who struggle with the end of a character's childhood. It is the parents who have a more difficult time coming to terms with their adult children and the "time flies" feeling that only accelerates with age.