Parents of ‘Frozen’-Obsessed Toddler Relieved When He Finally Moved On. But Then They Missed It.

in Disney, Entertainment

elsa ice powers frozen

Credit: Disney

Somewhere in his first two years, my son became obsessed with Frozen.

Every night, when the sun went down (as was our rule at the time; “sun’s out, television’s off”), my son would wiggle between my wife and me, one tiny elbow resting on each of our thighs, as we watched and watched and watched again.

Within weeks of our first viewing, if not days, we knew the songs by heart. We played them in our truck en route to this park or that playdate. From his car seat, our son would punctuate the final word of each line, his tiny vocabulary growing with each passing day.

“I can hear you but I…”
“Some look for trouble, while others…”

Emily and I knew the exact moment to press fast-forward, as the movie’s giant ice monster scared our little boy.

Soon we welcomed the sequel. New worlds. New songs. Same beloved characters. Too young to discern a favorite, our son loved them all with equal verve. But, like most kids, his face lit up especially whenever Olaf came on the screen.

Anna holds Olaf's hand
Credit: Disney

Within a few viewings, we knew the exact moment to fast-forward, as the sequel’s giant stone monster scared our little boy.

His little dresser quickly started to look like a corner of the Disney store, with sweatshirts, t-shirts, and pajamas bearing any combination of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and, of course, Olaf. His toy bins brimmed with the same faces.

And then, as it did with almost everything else in the world, the Covid-19 pandemic ground our lives to a complete halt.

My wife was in the middle of her final semester of graduate school. I was in the earliest stages of transitioning careers from the record industry to freelance writing. Our son was in the throes of a sleep regression that had him waking up at 3 a.m. most mornings, ready to attack the day.

Within an instant, our boundaries around screen time came crashing down and we were soon watching both versions of Frozen before the sun came up. My wife and I alternated those early mornings with him, all of us trying our best to weather the storm of, well, of everything.

But as restrictions eased and our worlds opened up, Elsa and Anna and Kristoff and Sven and Olaf became more ingrained in our everyday lives. Soon Frozen those toys and clothes and picture books that spilled out of his dresser and toy bin seemed to double, littering our home. Soon, I took my son to see Frozen live on stage.

And soon, we prepared a second birthday party for him in the only theme we thought suited the occasion.

We bought plastic tablecloths and paper napkins bearing the stars of the movies. We filled the house with silver and white balloons, thinking it might resemble a winter wonderland just a bit. We invited the people in our bubble (remember those?) over for our little boy’s second birthday party. Everyone came bearing some kind of Frozen gift. More toy sets and clothes. There was even a remote-control Olaf.

After everyone ate, played, and enjoyed some cake and conversation, the party moved to our living room, where we all watched the movies back-to-back.

It was the last time our son ever asked to watch either Frozen movie.

My wife and I offered often over the following days, weeks, and months, perplexed that the thing which so obsessed our son was now of complete disinterest. The toys sat dormant around our house; the books unread on his little bookshelves.

Now that he was, at long last, in daycare, we figured that some kid at school must have told him that Frozen wasn’t a movie for boys (WRONG!). Our son assured us that wasn’t the case.

Pressed for a reason, he simply said he didn’t like Frozen anymore.

olaf recapping frozen
Credit: Disney

He hadn’t moved on to something else. Though he had plenty of interests, which often changed by day, there was nothing that obsessed him the way Frozen had. He was starting to like monster trucks and basketball. He was fascinated by paper airplanes and loved riding his bike. But none of those things became daily requisites the way Frozen once was.

For a little while, Emily and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Though we loved Frozen, we had seen the movies countless times. We had had enough. But then, a few months later, I found myself singing “Into The Unknown” as Emily and I drove to pick our son up from daycare. We suddenly realized that we both kind of missed the movies that we knew by heart; the movie we thought we were happy to never have to watch again.

With our “sun’s out, television’s off” rule reinstated, we often settled in for a family movie or show before bed time. And nearly every night, Emily or I would suggest Frozen.

Our son would politely decline, asking instead for this movie or that show. The truth was Emily and I kind of missed watching Frozen.

“Maybe later,” he often said.

Two years ago, a few months after our son turned four, we welcomed a second child into our home. This time, a little girl.

And though we still try and keep our kids’ screen time within reason, my wife and I don’t shy away from cueing up a show or a movie, especially if it’s something the four of us can enjoy together.

Like most toddlers, our daughter loves shows with bright, bold colors and songs with easy melodies. She’s taken to Sesame Street, screaming every time Abby or Elmo comes on screen.

Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) hugging in 'Frozen'
Credit: Disney

A few weeks ago, Emily went for a morning workout with a few of her friends. Alone with the kids, and stuck inside due to a downpour, I flipped on the television, figuring we could watch a movie while we waited out the passing storm.

I suggested Frozen to my son. It had been at least three years since we last watched either movie.

“Nah,” he said.

“Come on. I bet sister will love it,” I said.

“OK, but I might not watch it. I’m just gonna play with my toys.”

I flipped on the movie and before the opening credits finished, my son was snuggled tight to my right side. His sister was on my left, both kids positioned in exactly the same way my wife and I used to bookend our little boy. Their tiny, bony elbows dug into my thighs.

Within the first two or three scenes, I could hear my son whispering every line, quietly singing each song beneath his breath. For the next 90 minutes, he was sentinel-still, once again enthralled by the movie that so enraptured him as a toddler. Only now, the ice monster didn’t scare him.

As the final credits rolled, I asked if he remembered how much he used to love that movie.

“Yeah,” he said. “But I don’t anymore.” He took a long pause, staring at the still-rolling credits, before speaking again. “But if we want to watch the next one, I think I’d be OK with that.”

in Disney, Entertainment

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