Last weekend, my 3 year old daughter and I were graciously gifted tickets to attend a "Frozen Princess Party" (please read that phrase with a feigned and exaggerated lilt) at a local music venue. I knew the sort of train wreck I was agreeing to. The entertainment equivalent of McDonald's, it's the sort of thing you love to hate; like Facebook drama, candy corn, or the Kardashians. But, it hasn't been above freezing in months and as I've maintained for years, despite living in Vermont, we are not winter people. (Ironic, given my kid's crack like addiction to the Ice Castle of Commercialization That Elsa Built.) I'm getting desperate. Because I'm not completely selfish, I did offer to let my husband take her. However, he mumbled something about self immolation and disappeared into the basement. She painstakingly got ready, choosing her Anna dress over the Elsa one (because "Elsa's sparkles are too itchy." BTW, I did not purchase EITHER OF THEM.) and draped enough Mardi Gras beads on her neck to warrant chiropractic care. She requested a "sparkle crown" but upon inspecting herself in the reflection of the oven door, decided that was just too much. No need to be tacky.
As we pulled up (in the middle of a snowstorm, mind you), a line of little girls dressed in chintzy polyester and impractical shoes along with their appointed guardians (who likely also drew the short straw) extended out of the building and snaked through the parking lot. We waited in the car. I have my limits. Once inside, I was greeted with the full realization of just what a parental bloodletting this was going to be. I snapped this photo to send to the man who had dropped us off and burned rubber out of the parking lot to go quietly sip coffee at a nearby Starbucks. I'll send it again every day until Valentine's Day when I'll sit back and wait for the Hope diamond. Haphazard lines of overzealous parents with bewildered princesses clamored for meet and greets with high schoolers in crooked wigs.
It was more or less Disneyland without the rides or fun, yet based on incubation periods, I can't guarantee it was without the measles. Eventually, they made their way to the stage, and 20 minutes of the 2 hour time span was a medley of the songs that at this point in the Frozen fever give most of us the shakes. Like the rest of them, my Anna ate it with a spoon. Until she saw Olaf. I guess, up until that point, she hadn't noticed him lurking like a 7 foot nightmare in the corner. Instantly, she burst into tears and attempted to disappear into the space between my knees. She's never had a problem with the character in the movie, but that one doesn't resemble Igor in Young Frankenstein. The breakdown was short lived, as I pointed out that she could easily outrun a snowman, and he likely couldn't see her anyway.
The crowd was beginning to thin and the characters who didn't look like Donny Darko extras had assembled near the stage for a less chaotic photo op than we'd stumbled into earlier. She shuffled into the fold, and beamed as Elsa draped her arm around her waist. Like any decent parent, I want my kids to spend time immersed in activities that expand their minds and help them grow as people. But as I stood there, under the glare of the lights, I watched my three year old excitedly attempt to play it cool. I was reminded in that moment, indulging the interests I can't find the value in, is valuable in and of itself. So, come to think of it, assuming we haven't contracted any communicable diseases or require therapy to help manage fears of oversized, deranged cartoon characters, it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday.