A few weeks ago, I took Mazzy to see Frozen. About ten minutes in, after Elsa accidentally strikes Anna with her magical ice powers and their parents take her to get healed by trolls in the forest, Mazzy said she was scared and asked to leave.
The content was much heavier than Mazzy's typical fare (Daniel Tiger and Doc McStuffins) and I might add, much heavier than the bright cheery poster with the goofy snowman suggests— so I took her hand and hightailed it out of there before her innocence was destroyed forever.
But once we were out on the street, I had second thoughts. Shouldn't I have just told her to close her eyes and hold my hand if she got scared? Assured her the movie was just pretend? Told her the funny parts with the goofy snowman would surely be happening soon?
A week later, we took a trip to a toy store and I told Mazzy she could pick out one thing. She selected Elsa and Anna dolls and has played with them non-stop since. I also noticed many of her friends talking about seeing the movie without any issues, so I asked Mazzy if she wanted to give it another shot.
It took a few weeks of bringing it up, but finally she agreed to see it again. We went last week.
The first time, Mazzy and I left right after Anna's accident. On our second trip, I realized two minutes later, both of her parents die. It happens so quickly, I hoped Mazzy didn't notice. But as I sat there next to my little girl, watching various themes play out (love, death, fear, betrayal etc.), I found myself wondering, why was it so important I make Mazzy sit through this?
In the end, despite getting antsy at parts, Mazzy liked the movie. She thought Olaf was laugh-out-loud funny and Elsa's ice castle was "BEAUT-I-FUL". She was also very proud that she did not find the Snow Monster scary. She told me that at least fifty times on the walk home.
Beyond that, I wasn't sure how much she understood. Especially since most of the movie revolves around Anna almost dying.
Death is a concept that (thankfully) has yet to come up.
About a year ago, I was explaining to Mazzy that Grammy is my mommy and Poppy is my daddy. After sufficiently blowing my then three-year-old's mind, she very astutely asked, "Who is Daddy's daddy?"
Daddy's daddy passed away when Mazzy was seven months old.
"Daddy's daddy is Harold. There is a picture of you with him in the living room."
"Daddy's daddy doesn't live in New York City any more?"
He didn't. I wasn't lying and I left it at that. We haven't spoken about him since.
The day after we saw Frozen, Mazzy was trying to remember the words to "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" I suggested we look it up on YouTube, totally forgetting the scene where Anna and Elsa's parents die happens mid-song.
If you haven't seen the movie, they drown at sea. It's depicted quickly with a wide shot of the ship in a storm followed by two large tombstones in a cemetary.
When we got to that part, Mazzy said quietly, "They got stuck in the sea."
Well, yes. That's one way to put it. I nodded and said nothing else.
The next day, Mazzy asked to watch the song again.
"Her parents turned into statues?"
She was referring to the tombstones. "Ummm… Yeah. Kind of."
Oh my god, I am so bad at this!
Mazzy didn't ask any more questions and I didn't volunteer any more information.
Then, yesterday we went to brunch to celebrate my mother's birthday. My Uncle Scott was there and for the first time, Grammy explained to Mazzy that Scott was her brother, just like Harlow was Mazzy's sister.
Then Mazzy asked innocently, "Grammy, who is your daddy?"
Grammy looked at me for a cue as to how to proceed and I shrugged nervously back.
She spoke carefully. "His name was Irving."
Without missing a beat, Mazzy asked, "Is he dead?"
Whoa. Where had this sudden knowledge come from? Had she known about death all along? Oh no! Had she learned it from Frozen? Is that so bad? Doesn't everyone learn about death from Disney?
Grammy answered simply. "Yes."
Mazzy nodded gravely.
Does she even know what that means? Has someone else explained this to her in more detail? What else does she know? Am I underestimating what she can handle?
"Who was your mommy, Grammy?"
"My mother's name was Minna. Everyone called her Minnie."
Mazzy crinkled her nose. She looked confused.
"Was your mommy a mouse?"
Oh my god, we all laughed so freakin' hard.
The best part about raising a child is that lost innocence can return so quickly.