Defiance … bought to you by Disney
I have a daughter, a feisty, opinionated, determined, focussed, bright, musical, free spirited child. She knows her own mind, but she loves new experiences. She passionate loves and equally passionately loathes or resists (putting on vests, having a wee, using a blue crayon rather than a yellow one, listening to the wind with the window open, or with the window closed, wearing the spotty socks not the stripey ones etc etc) at times … Equally, she’s calm, concentrated and considered in decisions. She’s a four year old … volatile and seemingly erratic behaviour can be seen as par for the course.
BUT … what she hasn’t been in the past is rude, deliberately rude, or more specifically defiantly rude.
That has changed…
and I blame Mickey Mouse, well not him but his global corporate parent, and in particular his ‘sibling’ Elsa.
Small person doesn’t get to watch much TV … she’s too busy living her life and having adventures. Sometimes she might have an after supper 10 minutes of Sarah and Duck (which is utterly brilliant and if you haven’t seen it I would urge you to rush and do so), or she’ll sit with her Granby (I’m not allowed in, it’s their thing to do together) and watch Strictly Come Dancing … but other than that and a DVD of children’s songs and a once a fortnight or soviewing of Peppa Pig. She plays the piano, does puzzles, sings, dances to music, digs in the garden, cycles, plays on swings, cooks, eats, reads, gets muddy, makes things, breaks things … she has friends and she thrives and flourishes. She also dislikes movies … and actively resists going to the movies.
So … we’d managed to get to being nearly 4 before she saw Frozen … infact before she even heard the songs. Then we went to a (very happy) 4th birthday party, it was themed around fairies and princesses and had lots of Frozen ‘stuff’, and the dance at the end was to Let It Go. She picked up the tune and hummed it on the way home. A few weeks later we were invited to go to a Sing A Long A Frozen with 3 of her friends from playgroup and their mothers. She wore a pink sparkly nightie with a picture of a princess on the front (a very dear American friend with a penchant for bling, and with two sons, bought it for her), and she spent most of the ‘show’ clutching my arm or sitting on my lap … but again on the way home sang the Let It Go theme and told Granby how she LOVED Elsa and how her cartoon heroine has the same “sparkly” hair that she does.
We got home and she asked to listen to the song, I found it on YouTube and we watched it together, a few times, then she wanted to show her Granby … it became something she watched, sang along with and ultimately copied the dance moves to from time to time. She clenched her fists, she stomped up the imaginary ice stairs and she woke the frozen palace as she danced … she was a little Elsa and started to tell me so on a daily basis.
Fast forward a few weeks, and another party where she had seen the whole movie…
and then, THEN, this weekend an argument about eating soup, her favourite soup, soup that she’d made, soup that she’s eaten for months.
It was lunchtime, she was grumpy as I hadn’t had a chance to plat her hair (“like Elsa”) and because I said she had to wait til after lunch to put her Elsa dress on (incase she spilt soup on it). I asked her to eat some of her lunch, she glared at me and said, “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO SAY”.
Then she turned her head, flung out her hand and said, “I’ve Frozen you, you’re dead now”.
Generally I TRY, and I emphasise the word try (because I more than frequently fail), to do the whole Gentle Parenting thing, and be patient, discuss traumas and so on … but on this occasion I didn’t, “What did you just say to me young lady?” …
“LET THE STORM RAGE ON, you are a BAD Mummy”, she shouted, and climbed down in a very floucy manner from her high chair, “I’m Elsa and my Mummy is dead in the ocean in a boat”. She then stamped her foot, waved her hands upwards (as she does when mimicking Elsa creating the ice castle from frozen fractals (new word to me, hats off to Disney for the vocabulary expansion there), and swooshed her skirt, and stomped into the hall crashing the door behind her, “I SLAM THE DOOR”.
I tried not to laugh, and thought it would be better to let her calm down a bit, eat some of my soup and see what happened next. A few moments later she stomped back in, clearly annoyed I hadn’t gone out after her. She picked up her spoon from the table and threw it on the floor, turned and stomped out, slamming the door again, “THE STORM NEVER BOTHERED ME ANYWAY”.
Two minutes later she came back in quietly, hugged me, burst into tears and told me she loved me and that she wasn’t Elsa and I wasn’t dead.
Then she sat on my lap and wolfed down the soup, “Yummy, Mama, my favourite. Now can I have a plat like Elsa?”
I’m still not sure whether to laugh, cry or just gasp out loud when I reflect on it … being insulted in Frozen lyrics, by a small person using the tone of voice, the movements of the singer and the same thunderously frosty defiance of the cartoon … I wasn’t expecting that!
I mean when I was a teenager and had rows with my mother, I slammed my bedroom door shut, turned up the record player and I played Billy Joel and “I don’t care what you say any more this is MY life, go ahead with your own live and leave me alone”, very loudly until my mother actually snapped the record in half one afternoon … but I was a teenager … not a FOUR YEAR OLD.
I’m shocked at the impact the song has had on her, the way she’s interpreted and channelled Elsa’s defiance and anger (and a bit impressed at that as well), and I’m bemused at the way the biggest children’s character of the moment is such an angry person. I mean it’s good she’s independent, it’s good she’s confident and her own person (I’m talking Elsa here), but I’m not sure about the whole slamming stomping thing.
Lots of challenges ahead as a frequently flummoxed parent, and maybe this is the first of the inevitable huge overwhelming tide of external influences that will colour her, push and pull her, buffet her and form her. As with everything so far, this ended up with her seeking love and a hug (and, after she finished the soup, some milky), but the hugs and the milky won’t always be there and it’s made me realise more than ever the importance of her just knowing she’s loved and that she is important and of forgiveness, and also what’s right and wrong so when she’s in the playground, the street, the wider world that will somehow ground her.
I too shall channelling my inner Elsa and stomping my foot, “here I stand, and here I’ll stay”,
but as the inevitable storms rage on as she grows up, it may well rather bother me anyway … or maybe I should just let it go … (sorry!).