Jacob (my four-and-a-half-year old) doesn’t watch television. Don’t be too impressed. Or annoyed. It is only because: 1. we have no idea when Dora or the Backyardigans are on, 2. we don’t want to be ruled by the timing of these sorts of shows and 3. Jacob has a steady diet of videos instead. On the upside, this means he doesn’t see commercials. So, Jacob never badgers us to buy Captain Crunch or Lucky Charms or any other “part of a complete breakfast”.
But, this doesn’t mean we aren’t affected by THE MEDIA. Let’s face it: most kids’ movies are chock full of product placement anyway. The result: Jacob’s current five-year-plan is to acquire all of the toys featured in Toy Story . . . that’s Toy Story I, II, and III, in case you’re curious. Sometimes he will cock his head, look off into the distance and say wistfully, “Andy is SOOO lucky”. Yes, he is envious of Andy, the fictional character in the Toy Story movies. Because Andy owns all those great toys. (SWOON.) I have tried pointing out that Jacob has the advantage of free will, three-dimensionality, and being a carbon-based life form. Cue confused look. I have also tried saying things like, “Jacob, keep in mind that Andy is eighteen in the last Toy Story movie. He didn’t have all those toys when he was four, like you.” Jacob nods seriously. And then says something like: “Mommy, when will I be eighteen?”
Then came “Frozen”. Jacob has only been inside a movie theater on three occasions. None of them were a home run. He sat on my lap when we took him to see “The Muppet Movie” a few years ago. I thought he was enjoying himself. He seemed riveted. Absorbed. Apparently these were actually just euphemisms for “terrified”. (This became clear when the lights came on at the end of the movie and Jacob, stone-faced, dragged me out of the theater. Quickly. Very quickly.) Not long ago, I took him to a children’s film festival. He loved the first few short films. But then he was DONE. And insisted we leave. So, when Dan suggested taking Jacob to see “Frozen” I was ambivalent. But Jacob’s friends seemed to like it. So, off they went. Jacob made it through the whole movie. But when I asked him about it later all he would say is that there was a scary snow monster in it. (Read: I could have spent that time doing something more enjoyable . . . like cutting up cardboard boxes and leaving the shavings all over the living room carpet.)
So, imagine my surprise when Jacob suddenly, inexplicably, became obsessed with singing the signature song from Frozen: “Let It Go”. As I have mentioned previously, we are often serenaded with this song. FOR HOURS ON END. Occasionally Jacob will ask to watch the video of the song on YouTube. And I indulge him. In the hopes that he will pick up at least one or two of the actual lyrics. Instead he belts out the likes of:
“The pastor’s in the past”
“Let the storm ranger ooooon”
And when I say “belts out”, I am not exaggerating. I suspect that when Jacob watches the clip of “Let it Go” he is mostly focused on Elsa’s dramatic gestures. Which he imitates. While sailing around the house. “HEEERE I AM. And HEEEERE I’ll STAAAAAY. Let the STORM ranger OOOOOOON.” Blankets are wrapped around his shoulders and then shed for dramatic effect. It is truly something to behold.
So the other day, I asked him, “Jacob, did you like the movie Frozen?”
That scary snow monster was a real downer.
Okay, so . . . can I get an explanation for this obsession? I suspect it has to do with Jacob’s peers at preschool. A lot of four and five-year-olds have been channeling Elsa these days.
And then there is Snoopy. And Charlie Brown. And Lucy. Don’t ask me why but Dan decided to download “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” onto the iPad. And for the past two weeks, Jacob has watching it over and over again. It has been eye opening for us. This TV special is circa 1966. I’m sure I watched it growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, but I had forgotten how vicious children’s television was back then. A lot of “mean talk” (to coin the phrase used at Jacob’s preschool). This has prompted Jacob to begin tossing around the S-word. (Stupid.) Okay, fine, smirk. But keep in mind, he’s only four. And then there was this . . .
Dan was saying goodnight to Jacob while I was in a room down the hall. Suddenly, Dan made a bee-line for the kitchen downstairs. “Sorry, Jacob,” he called over his shoulder, “I forgot to bring up a cup of water for you. I’ll be right back.”
“Daddy, I already have water!” Jacob called after him. But Dan didn’t hear. And kept on going down the stairs.
“Daaaaaddy! Daaaaddy!” Jacob tried again.
And then, after a few moments of silence I heard Jacob mutter under his breath: