Thursday, June 12, 2014



The Girl more or less ordered me to watch Frozen with her.  She had seen it when it was released, and loved it, and decided that it was important that I see it, too.  

When a nine-year-old who rarely asks much insists that you watch a movie that means a lot to her, you do.  Those are the rules.

I don’t usually care about musicals, and the first twenty minutes or so didn’t inspire confidence.  I have been known, on occasion, to fall asleep during boring movies.  (I missed a good chunk of The Lorax.)  It was touch-and-go for a little while there.  But TG was counting on me, so I powered through.

I’m glad I did.  

“Let it Go” was a legitimate showstopper; I finally saw what the fuss was about.  But the movie as a whole won me over, too.  The combination of strong female leads, relative indifference to romantic subplots, Olaf’s comic relief, and TG’s obvious enthusiasm for it all was hard to resist.  It was refreshing to see a really well-made children’s movie in which the female characters were central and romance was not.  (The heroine wins the cute boy in the end, but it’s very much an afterthought.  He’s just there to ratify the happy ending.)  TG got caught up in the adventure, and enjoyed watching the princess save the day.

Raising a daughter thoughtfully in this culture is hard.  I want her to keep her confidence as she grows, and to not get sucked into the whole disney princess/cheerleader/lookist trap.  But I also want her to be in the world, and to be able to have common ground with her friends.  Finding the momentarily right balance between protection and letting go requires constant adjusting.  And she’s watching her parents for cues.  That means being very aware of not making offhand comments that send unhelpful messages.  

Luckily for me, TG makes it easy.  She has a remarkable sense of who she is, for her age, and an ability to tune out anything discordant.  

Her peers notice that about her, too.

Last week, TG invited me to talk to her class on Career Day.  I went a couple of years ago and tried to explain the day job; I didn’t get very far before yielding to the next speaker.  This time I focused on writing, on the theory that it would be a little easier to picture.

If you haven’t spoken to a roomful of fourth graders lately, it’s worth trying.  Actual moment:

Me: You know how you have to write sloppy copies before you turn something in?  I do that, too, but I call them rough drafts.
(Girl raises hand)

Me: Yes?

Girl: TG is smart!

If you’re willing to embrace a certain non-linearity, the conversations can be great fun.  One kid related everything we discussed to llamas; TG later explained that he has been obsessed with llamas for the past week.  Another suggested that my next book should be about zombies.  A girl who is friends with TG informed me that she’s writing a book of her own.  I told her I’d be happy to read it when she’s done.  TG just beamed.

Father’s Day is a chance to think about what it means to be a father.  For me, it’s about enabling two smart, sweet kids to grow into strong, smart, sweet adults.  If that means staying awake through a few musicals, then that’s what it means.  Thanks, TG.

I'd love to hear what your daughter thinks of Wicked.
I have a three year old. We have watched Frozen approximately 317 times.

First viewing, my reaction was like yours. I tend to zone out a bit during songs. But let me tell you, somewhere around viewing number 50, but which time I had memorized the words to most of those songs, I realized that there is actually a lot of character development and subtle stuff that I'd missed the first time. Anna is planning to fall in love and get engaged all in one day before she ever meets Hans, for instance ("And I know it all ends tomorrow, so it has to be today!") When Prince Hans sings "I've been searching my whole life to find my own place" he is being honest -- he's been looking for a place where he could be a king.

Elsa builds a snowman and imagines him saying "I like warm hugs," when she herself is not allowed to touch anyone, which is kind of heartbreaking. Later Olaf repeats young Anna's like from the night he was originally made -- "The sky is awake!" He is like a personification of their childhood innocence.

Also part of the troll song has now become my new personal mantra when dealing with difficult people: "People make bad choices when they're mad or scared or stressed / but throw a little love their way and you'll bring out their best."

Did you know that the director originally wanted to cast Louis C.K. as the regent who ruled the kingdom after the death of the girls' parents and before Elsa's coronation?

Anyway, it rewards repeat viewings, is what I'm saying. If TG wants you to watch again.
I agree with MKS. Another point I appreciated was the opening of the ballroom "for the first time in forever," followed later by Anna's promise to help Elsa because they can work together "for the first time in forever."

Would love to read more of your charming conversations with fourth graders.
DD - your younger niece cannot complete a car trip without singing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman." This is a change from a month ago, when she could not complete a car trip without singing "Let It Go." Frozen has replaced Pee-Wee's Playhouse as the DVD in perpetual rotation at our house. (The "Pee-Wee" period was weird.)

Congratulations on the reception on Career Day. And yes, your next book should be about zombies.
A book about dealing with both zombie administrators (the college version of a minister without portfolio) and zombie faculty?
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?