The End of the Innocence

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn't have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by
When "happily ever after" fails
And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales...
Don Henley

When you're looking for clues as to why you turned out the way you did, all you have to do is look to your childhood to get the answers you're trying to find. Almost everything can be traced back to your childhood.

I can pinpoint the start of my anxiety attacks to a specific day—a specific event—from when I was only six years old. What was supposed to be a nice afternoon out with my father turned out to be a traumatic day, one that left me in tears and filled with sadness.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was dressed appropriately in a yellow dress, white sweater, and brand-new white sandals. I kissed my mom good-bye as she headed off to work, and I left with my father. A father-daughter day. Just perfect!

We were about to see a really fun and cute movie about a little deer and all his friends.

We were about to see Bambi.

The movie started, and of course, I loved it at first. Bambi was born to two lovely parents, and as Bambi started to grow, his mother would take him out, exploring the world around them, loving him, playing with him, and explaning to him about the dangers of the world.


Bang. Bang.

Bambi's mommy was killed. By hunters.

"Your mother can't be with us anymore," Bambi's father tells him, gently taking him back home after the tragedy.

I remember staring at the screen with my mouth wide open, then bursting into tears.

"Bambi's mommy died? Bambi's mommy died?" I was sobbing. I was so crying hard, in fact, my father and I had to leave the theatre, so I could run to the nearest pay phone and call my mom to make sure she was still alive.

And so it began. My complete paranoia that at any given day, one of my parents were going to die and leave me alone. Whenever they went out at night, I would stay awake, praying in my room for their safe return. If my mother was ever late to pick me up from school, I thought she was dead in some terrible car accident. Or maybe shot by some hunters. These are thoughts no six year old should have.

After I saw Bambi, I lost a huge part of my otherwise innocent childhood.

I wonder how many children end up in therapy because of Disney?

Although I consider Bambi to be one the saddest movies I've ever seen, (I've since watched the entire movie, and although it has a happy ending, I'm still scarred for life over the fact that Bambi's.... mommy... dies.... sniff, sniff...) almost all Disney movies like to pull at your heart strings.

Sure, I wanted to be a princess when I was a little girl, but not really a Disney princess. After all, these girls had it rough growing up! In the end, they all live happily ever after (of course, only after their prince comes to save them) but still—I didn't really want to be Cinderella. All that cleaning and scrubbing she had to do for her evil step-sisters? No thanks.

And poor Snow White! Her mom just wanted a baby, a daughter with skin as white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair as black as ebony. Of course, once her beautiful baby was born, she dies. When Snow White becomes a teenager, her evil step-mother, who is not the fairest of them all, sends her to the forest to be killed. Luckily, her life was spared, but she spent years living alone in the forest, where she ate mushrooms all day long and hung out with dwarfs.

And The Lion King? When poor little Simba is nuzzling up to his dead father? How heartbreaking was that movie? Sure, it was funny and happy during certain scenes, but I coudn't get over the fact that little Simba had to come to the realization that his daddy was dead. Why, Disney, why?

What about Finding Nemo? That movie crushed me. Poor clownfish Marlin had to watch his wife and their 400 eggs get eaten by a barracuda! Only one little egg survived, and Marlin becomes a great (and very over-protective) dad to little Nemo. Then, of course, Nemo disappears, and Marlin has to spend his days and night searching for his only son. Sob!

Parents are always missing or killed in Disney movies. Like in The Little Mermaid, The Fox and the Hound, and Lilo and Stitch. Or children are tragically taken from their parents, like in Tangled.

Even if parents aren't dying, Disney will get you in other ways. Just try watching the first ten minutes of UP without breaking down. The opening scene in that movie destroyed me!

I still haven't seen Toy Story 3, but I have been warned that I'll cry like a baby.

Although Disney movies are amazing, and although I do love them all, they also make me very depressed. Ever since my world was shattered after watching Bambi, I'm always thinking 'worst case' scenario.

Now as a mom of two, I get anxious when my boys watch certain Disney movies, because I worry about how sad they'll be. I couldn't stop talking to my five year old during Tangled, when Rapunzel was kidnapped. I kept explaining to him that eventually, everything would be okay, but I could tell he was still a little upset.

Did Disney traumatize you when you were a child, too?

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Jen said...

Disney movies are some of THE BEST made movies, but your right, they take children where we try to protect them from. My son loves Disney movies, and could watch them day in and out, but I have walked into the room to his sobs, and he too had a fear of his parents dying because of them. We have not watched Bambi, though he has read the book, and knows what happens. My real complaint is that they bring out our worst fears, but the ending are always happy. Leading children to believe that no matter what happens, it'll all work out in the end. Unfortunatly, that is rarely the case.

Corine (@ComplicatedMama) said...

I've thought ab that too! Why must Disney always kill off the Moms? So sad.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I can't watch Bambi. I haven't seen it since I was a kid, but I won't watch it again. If my kids want to watch it, they're going to have to do it on their own because I won't show it to them. As for Toy Story 3...well I felt all sad when I read the synopsis of it on IMDB so I think it's fair to say that I won't be watching that movie any time soon either!

Issas Crazy World said...

Mine was Snow White. I was six. I'm still not over it. I despise that movie.

Anonymous said...

For me it was ET. I know that sounds strange but that movie was the first movie I really remember just balling my eyes out in. He was in pain and being hurt by all the bad men and I was completely miserable watching it because I just felt so bad for him. And my Mom was totally guilt ridden for letting me see it. She was so careful about censoring what we watched. In fact she didn't let me see Bambi until years after it was out and I was much older.

Lady Mama said...

*Raising hand as one who was traumatized by Bambi also*.

I've noticed it too - Disney movies are all based around heart-breaking stories. The only Disney movie I can think of that's not particularly sad is Cars. My kids have seen Nemo, Toy Story, Up (SO sad!), and others. But Bambi? Forget it. I plan on avoiding it for as long as possible.

Sarah at The Stroller Ballet said...

My mom said she needed to cut me off from Disney movies when I was young because I cried so, so much over so many of them! They are totally traumatic. And Toy Story 3 will make you BAWL! It's good though. Definitely recommended :)

ModernMom said...

I think Disney movies are harder on me now then they were when I was little! I'm with you UP..ahhh tears! Oh and my girls still have not seen Bambi. I'll let them decide if they want to watch when they are adults")

Vodka Mom said...

my kids were HORRIFIED by many of their movies!!!



Nenette AM said...

Disney movies never upset me as a child. My parents repeatedly told me that they weren't true, things like that don't happen, animals don't talk, etc. so I was okay with it.
But OMG, now?! I'm an absolute wreck when I watch them. You named 'em -- Lion King, UP, and Finding Nemo are on the top of my "don't watch this without a box of tissues" list. Ugh.

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

I always loved the good cry associated with the traumatic points in Disney movies... the ones at the end, ala Lady and the Tramp are the ones that really get me, though.

My boys don't seem to be very affected by the Disney deaths... but Harry Potter's parents getting killed completely did my first-born in. :(

Mommyfriend Lori said...

I never saw Bambi as a kid, what was wrong with my parents? LOL But I totally get what you're saying!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I still get choked up by the scene in Dumbo where his mother rocks him in her trunk through bars. Dumbo and Pinnochio are hard for me to watch with all of the cruelty.

Scary Mommy said...

It's so true! I don't remember being scarred by Disney when I was young, but I watch the movies now and want to curl up in a ball and sob. Why, Disney, whyyyyyyyy?!?!

Avitable said...

The only Disney movie that was like that for me was Toy Story 3.

Anonymous said...

Well guess what? Parents do die and I happen to know lots of people this helped.