Tonight, I watched Sylvia run around the living room with our giant, soft blue fleece blanket tied around her neck. She didn't know I was watching, and I heard her sing, "Let it goooooo, let it goooo....." then she untied the blanket, flailed it behind her, twirled around dramatically, then stopped: "The cold never bothered me anyway."
Last night, she was pretending to scrub the playroom floor while she sang, "No one cares for YOU a smidge, when you're in an OR-phanage....it's a hard knock life!"
Last week, on movie night, we were snuggled up watching The Wizard of Oz (for the four hundredth time) and she asked me to pause the movie so she could put on her Dorothy dress. Then she asked me to braid her hair (we compromised on low pig tails), she gathered her Toto dog and her basket, then she proceeded to act out the entire movie and recite almost every line EXACTLY like Judy Garland does, matching her every intonation and mimicking every tiny movement of her body.
I remember that.
I remember trying on all of those characters that I loved so much. I remember rewinding The Little Mermaid so I could memorize the words. I remember practicing my best Belle voice and I absolutely remember working SO HARD to sing exactly the way Judy Garland does.
Watching Sylvia step into this phase of her childhood is simply magical for me. It's not about princesses anymore. It's about stories and characters and trying on all of the identities they bring to us. It's about acting and singing and pretending. It's about listening to a story and thinking carefully about it. (So I guess it's really about reading and writing.) We will always have the classics like Annie and The Wizard of Oz. Those are the ones that she and I share. But Frozen will be her Little Mermaid. It will be the first new movie that her tiny generation can own and memorize and pretend to be. And I am SOOO okay with that!
For the record, I still have my issues with the movie, but I don't worry about my girls getting the "wrong message" anymore because now I know that I'M THE ONE who gives them the message. I'm the one who answers their questions and I'm the one who gets to filter and guide the conversations. Someday we'll talk about why all these darn princesses are so sickeningly skinny, but for now, thanks to Disney, we get to talk about the things she understands: like why you should never give up on your sister, no matter what. And why you should use your talents to make people happy. And why Olaf would melt in the summer (helloooo science)! This movie will give us enough to talk about until my girls are grown and gone. I suppose that's why it's so successful.
I will treasure these days during The Little Years when I can quietly catch Sylvia in the middle of her pretend world. I will treasure the way we sing and dance in the kitchen to our favorite show tunes. The way I can still scoop up both of my girls in my arms and twirl and twirl and twirl while I soak up the twinkle in their eyes and the space in their smiles and the pureness in their laughter that represents nothing but absolute happiness. These special moments are the ones where I see them as they really are: tiny, happy and safe, able to reach out and pretend to be anyone they want. They'll be trying on various identities for the rest of their lives, and some will be more savory than others, I'm sure. But no matter who they are pretending to be, they will always be mine. And if I could freeze them right now I would.