Our Nuisance Totoro

I suppose we did kind of set him up for it.

In the months before his birth, the empty nursery served as a shrine to My Neighbor Totoro.  The large one sat in the corner under an oversized leaf from Ikea. The medium and small one marched across the elevated changing table. Soot Sprints danced along the edge of his closet. And a large Cat Bus cautiously walks along the top of his crib.

But for the first 18 months of his life, the images never connected. That is until we finally sat him down, popped in the Blu-Ray, and showed him the movie for the first time.

Now it’s the only thing he wants to talk about.

“Toe Toe Row!” he demands as soon as we walk into the home theater area of our basement. It’s the easiest place for me to take him while his mother clears the kitchen upstairs.

“Not tonight, buddy. Daddy wants to watch something else.”

Much to my amazement, the movie is not available on any streaming platform, nor is it available for purchase on iTunes. As all of our entertainment has gone to streaming within the last couple of years, the only devices we have that can play physical media anymore are the video game consoles in our home theater.

So because there is only one area of the house where he can watch it, it has become a trigger for him and he immediately starts to demand it as soon as we step into the room.

“Toe Toe Row!”

His vocabulary is still very limited, and I am still not sure if he knows the difference between the words “Turtle” and “Totoro”, but it is very clear what he is asking for right now.

“No. Let’s please watch something else tonight.”

“Toe! Toe! Row!” Now his face starts to turn into a scowl. It becomes clear that this is one argument I am never going to win.

So once again, I put on the fucking Totoro.

He watches the whole thing from start to finish. It is the only 90 minutes I will get him to stand still for. He will only occasionally turn his head around to point out things happening on the screen, or to roar along with Totoro. 

I can only assume that he will be able to recite the dialogue within the next month or so. 

I was concerned during the first few viewings that he would lose interest in the movie before it really got going. Much of the focus on the film is on the two sisters, not the cute mythical creatures. In fact, Totoro is probably only on screen 10% of the time. But that didn’t seem to matter. Sure, the Totoro parts are his favorite, but he’ll watch any part of the movie. 

He now recognizes the Totoro images posted around the house. When he wakes up in the morning, he points to the Cat Bus above his bed and the sleeping Totoro on the wall. He carries around a little Totoro plushie and has even noticed the Totoro themed coat hanger in our entryway. 

But he might be a little too obsessed at this point. Basically any pear-shaped creature becomes Totoro to him. An oversized stuffed unicorn has now become Totoro, as are the owls that decorate his daycare. 

And so Totoro has become one of the beloved figures in anime fandom to the bane of my existence. But I guess I cannot really complain about it too much. 

After all, we did kind of set him up for it. 

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