"Fraw-bee," my twins said pointing to the television, "Fraw-bee!" And I knew what this meant because, finally, I am fluent in a second language, "Twinese."
"Frosty?" I said with a meek smile, not doing a good job of masking my hesitation.
"YES!" they fired back with head nods and huge beaming grins.
"Really?" But I knew I had no choice. They wanted to watch "Frosty the Snowman," and I wanted to clean up breakfast and wash my face and brush my teeth and oh yeah, get us dressed so we could get out the door. If this movie was going to satisfy them and hold their attention for a few minutes so I could do these desired things, Frosty the Snowman, it must be.
Watching the movie is fun--up to a point.
My kids join hands like they see the ones do in the film and dance like them in a circle and sing. (Yes, we are that jolly.)
But even "Frosty the Snowman" is not safe; even Frosty does not shelter us from the harsh reality of our own mortality (You: great sentence!).
Frosty (spoiler alert!)...freakin' melts.
"I could stand to lose a few pounds," he jokes marching into a greenhouse. (It's always the nice ones marching down the steps in a b-rate slasher movie, leaving the audience yelling, no! No!) And before they know it their beloved friend, the nicest guy ever who was just dancing and singing a minute ago is reduced to a puddle of water. Karen, the little girl in the movie, starts crying, and my twins start crying, too.
I'm sorry, did I say crying? I mean sobbing. Real tears. They point at the screen and wail incoherently, "BLAAHH!" while a montage of all the good times from Frosty the Snowman's life plays to a slow-downed version of his theme song. It's like "Beaches" for toddlers. Here Lies Frosty, He Did A Lot Of Jigging.
At this point I run over and scoop them up, cradle their heads against my shoulder, say "shh, it's okay, look, look! Santa saves him! Frosty comes back! It's magic snow!" And I pause for minute with silent intentions, thinking if only this would always be true in life, if Santa would always come in and save us, if I could always tell them everything's going to be all right because it's magic snow. "It's okay, babies, look, look..." On cue the music picks up and lo and behold--"Happy Birthday!"--Frosty comes back to life and can jig again.
(All of this before nine a.m.)
The tears vanish and the dancing and clapping resume.
And immediately upon the movie ending, they want to do it all over again.
Meanwhile. . . I watch the movie "Indecent Proposal" every time it's on (*back when it was on, back when I watched television, back when cougars were just animals and not associated with the lovely Demi Moore, back when I not only couldn't swaddle like a ninja but didn't even know what a swaddle was), and every time I cry and cry.
Have I ever told you I love you? The hippos?
This thing in us, this need to torture ourselves maybe? This need to stir emotions, awaken, feel things, it's real.
Go ahead, ask me, why is math important--well, actually, no, ask someone else that question. Why are the arts important? Why is English important? Why is reading important? Why is this book important, even The Old Man and the Sea?
Because. . . long live the story.