Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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It isn’t Frozen that I love. It’s that my daughter loves it.


Photo by Mike Mozart

Christmas morning 2014 my 7-year-old, Norah, got an Elsa princess dress that lit up and sang “Let It Go” from her grandmother. It was dark in the living room, and when Norah held up dress. It was nearly as bright as the tree. When I first saw it, I was surprised by both how brightly it shined and how loud it was. It always seems to be the grandparents who give our kids loud obnoxious gifts. The kids love them for it. I do not.

Behind Norah was her 7-year-old brother, Tristan, and upon seeing the dress, he rolled his eyes and fell to the side, clearly put out. Tristan and I shared mutual feelings about Frozen. Frankly, I was sick of it. I was tired of watching it, tired of hearing its sound track, tired of reading about it on Facebook and Twitter, and tired of hearing Norah go on and on about it. I looked at Norah’s Christmas gifts. All but two of them were Frozen themed. We had a Frozen bed set, Frozen dolls, Frozen night gown, Frozen books… It felt like I was paying the mortgage on Elsa’s ice castle.

Frozen did a lot of things right. The animation was cute, Olaf is goofy and fun, the strength of the sisters was admirable. But at the same time, it really didn’t shift much from the tried and true Disney structure: wealthy female protagonist is manipulated by wealthy male protagonist, and eventually protected by a hunky male co-star. There was just that little twist at the end, where movie makers messed with us, making us think that the handsome and charming ice harvester was going to save the day in the last moment, but he doesn’t, breaking ever so slightly from the Disney formula. But I suppose that was enough to send little girls everywhere into Frozen madness even more than a year after it’s release, and cause me to drop a load of cash to give my daughter a Frozen Christmas.

We live in western Oregon, where there is almost never snow, and yet Norah and I talk a lot about her living in an ice castle and how we need to build a snowman. She won’t clean her room unless she can listen to the “Let It Go” Pandora station while doing it, and sometimes she wears gloves to keep from freezing the hearts of her loved ones (that part is really cute, I admit).

And as much as I am sick of hearing about Frozen, there is a part of me that melts every time I hear Norah sing Let It Go, her squeaky little voice, reaching as high as it can, like the notes are just out of reach, perhaps on the top shelf, where we keep cookies and candy. I never saw this coming as a father of a daughter. Were it not for Norah, I doubt I would’ve ever watched Frozen, it’s not really my style, but now I’ve lost track of how many times Norah has snuggled up against me, her head resting on my stomach, legs stretched out on the sofa, so we can, once again, watch Elsa and Anna learn to love each other.

Each time we watch it, my son complains.

“That movie is so irritating,” he says. And as much as I agree with him because I am so sick of the damn thing, I tell him to leave us alone because we are having a moment. Sometimes I wonder if there is some gender stigma going on at their elementary school. All the girls’ talk about Frozen, so all the boys have to hate it. However, I doubt Tristan would like his friends to know that the first time he watched the movie, he laughed his ass off.

Watching Frozen with my daughter is a mix of emotions. I am irritated and jittery watching the film, but I’m also struck with a warm feeling deep in my chest, that I never felt before having a little girl. I get the same feeling every night reading a poorly written book that summarizes the movie Frozen, and although the writing is terrible, and I’m sick of the story, I do it because few things are sweeter than having my daughter snuggled up next to me. This Frozen madness has gotten to the point that sometimes, when I drive to work at 6AM, alone, I find myself singing “Let It Go.”

I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that despite how sick I am of Frozen, when Norah stripped off her clothes in the living room so she could immediately try on her light up, singing Elsa dress, I couldn’t help but look at her smiling face, and feel satisfaction.

It isn’t the movie that I love. It’s the fact that my daughter loves it. I have this strong feeling that years from now, when Norah is all grown up and out on her own, Frozen will come on TV, and I will watch it, all the way through, by myself, and think about those moments with my little girl snuggled up against me. I will think about all the nights I read her that stupid book, and all the times I caught myself singing “Let It Go,” and smile with longing, wanting to get back to that moment, when she was a little girl, and I was her strong daddy, and we just shut the world out for a moment to watch Frozen one more time.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.