Although my family is arriving appallingly late to the “Frozen” scene, we seem to be making up for lost time at an exponential rate.
Until recently, my 4-year-old daughter may have been one of the few children in the civilized world not to have seen the Disney blockbuster released in late 2013 to record box office sales that buried entire populations in a slush of “Elsa” and “Anna” products while clogging up airwaves — and people’s minds — with cloying hits from its soundtrack. Despite the theme song’s urging to “Let It Go,” people just didn’t seem to want to.
But for a long time, my family somehow managed to remain on the periphery of the “Frozen” mania.
During last winter’s frigid months, my then 7-year-old twins viewed segments of the movie during one of their slew of indoor recesses at Cynwyd Elementary School. With the playground and field buried under snowdrifts that kept piling up at record rates, the teachers, at their wits’ ends, understandably turned to Disney’s tale about the Snow Queen Elsa who traps her kingdom with an icy spell.
Georgia and Griffin, however, were generally done with all-things-cold by that point, and Disney’s depiction of a perpetual winter seemed to repel rather than attract them. My then 3-year-old had heard from nursery school friends that some scary trolls and a frightening snowman haunted the movie, and she refused my repeated offers to play it during one of our many housebound afternoons.
So when my friend, a transplant from Chicago, sent me a YouTube link to WGN morning news anchor Dan Ponce’s “Let It Go (Chicago)” parody last winter, I didn’t really get it — though I watched it anyway because he is cute and possibly, I thought, a budding musical comedy genius.
“You’ve never seen ‘Frozen’?” people demanded, horrified, all last year. Even my exterminator, when I asked him what that tune was that he was humming while re-baiting our rodent boxes (it happened to be, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”) couldn’t quite grasp my ignorance.
“You mean you’ve really never seen that movie?” he asked, pausing with poison packet aloft. “My daughter won’t turn it off.”
But as the leaves started to drop and the air gained a chill, the “Frozen” tide began to turn for my family, at least for my 4 year old, who suddenly became enamored with the movie’s princesses and began asking me to braid her hair like Elsa’s and tie our picnic blanket around her neck after nursery school to mimic the characters’ capes.
She attended a “Frozen”-themed birthday celebration, during which the resourceful mother helped costumed partygoers make snow out of cornstarch and hair conditioner, a messy enterprise that disgusted me and delighted the youngsters. The 4-and-5-year-olds took turns on a homemade wooden stage, parading their Elsa and Anna attire and signing “For the First Time in Forever” karaoke.
A teacher at Jane’s small preschool counted 17 Elsas at Halloween. And during our neighborhood trick-or-treating, three Elsas made the rounds with our coterie, two of them sisters in competing braided wigs.
Jane, having recently viewed “The Muppet Movie” from 1979, with its chubby credits and corny banter, was dressed as Miss Piggy. I am certain, however, that my daughter would have chosen to be Anna or Elsa, instead, had she not still been too afraid to watch “Frozen.”
So finally, come winter, Jane’s best friend from school, determined to cure her of her “Frozen” fear and deprivation, invited her over for a special playdate to see the movie. Jane’s friend held her hand during the scary parts.
And a few days later, I caught my 4 year old eyeing a giant Elsa doll that was being raffled off at our neighborhood pharmacy.
“Wow!” Jane said. “Do you think that’s too expensive?”
“Yes!” I cried, thinking that the toddler-sized mannequin with its bulging eyes was also the stuff of nightmares.
“Can I at least get a ‘Frozen’ CD for Christmas?'” Jane asked, and I found myself picking up the disc from an impulse-buy bin near a checkout lane at the Wynnewood Giant.
Downloaded during the holidays to my laptop, the soundtrack has been streaming out of the tiny speakers and booming from our minivan stereo for months now, at Jane’s request, until neither her twin brother and sister, nor I, can take it any longer.
“Can you play ‘Frozen’?'” Jane asks nearly every afternoon.
“Nooooooo!” Georgia, 8, cries, fleeing upstairs to her “Frozen”-free room.
“I hate that song,” one of Jane’s preschool teachers recently confessed when she heard me singing “Let It Go” while shoving my daughter’s mittens and hat into her backpack.
“So do I!” I said. “But I can’t get it out of my head.”
And as if the recent cold snap wasn’t torturous enough — cooped up with my three kids and a severe case of cabin fever — I also repeatedly awoke in the wee hours to fret about frozen pipes and critters scuttling in our walls, only to hear “Love Is An Open Door” looping through my brain, chasing sleep farther and farther away.
That might be because Jane’s ballet class has been practicing its recital routine, choreographed to that song, for weeks now. I now know all of the admittedly catchy lyrics: “I mean it’s crazy… What? We finish each other’s- Sandwiches! That’s what I was going to say!” I will continue to have the pleasure of humming that tune while watching my 4-year-old dance deep into the warm heart of May.
By that point, I hope to be moving out of “Frozen” territory. But I fear I may not be so lucky, since Jane is now requesting a “Frozen” party for her 5th birthday in June.
“I want to dress up like Elsa and have a ‘Frozen’ cake,” she told me the other day. “And we can make snow in the yard!”
“We’ll see,” I said, hoping that maybe by then we will have managed to “Let It Go” — even if we’re more than a year late.