How to Play Frozen
"I'm Elsa. We're playing Frozen tag. Elsa is it. You need to chase me."
West (aka Elsa) was excited to see me. I was excited to see him, and his sister, Lillie (aka Anna), as well. Really, I was.
I just needed a second to breathe. To do something mindless like scroll through Twitter before going into full-throttle "Aunt Jill" mode. After a late workday and 25 miles of traffic, I arrived at Amy's place completely unprepared to handle the energy of a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old.
As I walked up to the front stoop, Amy dropped the bomb.
"I'm not coming with you," she informed me. Long pause. Behind her I heard, "I'm Elsa, I'm Elsa. You can be Olaf."
Then she continued, "I need a break. Have Eric drop you off at the wine shop when you're done with Frozen."
The plan: a puppet show at the Alum Creek Amphitheater in Westerville. Re-enacting Frozen on the playground equipment was just a logical extension of the entertainment. Luckily, I'd seen the movie and knew the premise. But I was a little slower than West/Elsa at conjuring up exact scenes from the plot.
•If it's too hot to move, pretend to be a melting Olaf and ask Elsa to put a snow cloud above you. Wait 30 seconds and repeat.
•If staging the musical production on the curly slide causes anxiety, suggest that everyone go look for the Troll Village.
•For Frozen Tag (not the same rules as "Freeze Tag") with young children, speed doesn't matter. Walk in circles until they're distracted.
Free-range kids were everywhere, all headed toward me. To my left, an army of crawlers. To my right, a toddler who'd walk up, stare, then ask to be carried. Everywhere, parents were chasing children. Just like Frozen Tag, but faster. They looked exhausted.
Everything ended abruptly, due to an oncoming storm. Eric carried a child under each arm as we headed to the car and, eventually, the wine shop (so Aunt Jill could have some grown-up time with Mommy). In the car, West announced that he preferred Frozen to the puppet show. To be fair, the movie has better production quality. Bigger budget, too.
"I love your kids," I told Amy while shoving pizza in my face, "but I wasn't ready to go immediately into musical mode." She and Eric looked at one another, eyes twinkling.
"So you're saying that you need a break between having a job and being a mom?" asked Eric.
And as the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" went through my head for the 250th time, I had an epiphany. I knew right then why we were at the wine bar.
[Final note: The city of Westerville hosts free events at Alum Creek Park throughout the summer and fall. Visit visitwesterville.org for more details. Frozen, however, can be played anytime and anyplace.]
- Jill Moorhead doesn't have children, but borrows her friends' kids with a dual purpose: to actually see her friends, and to find ways to spoil their offspring. She writes about food in Columbus Crave and Columbus Monthly, as well as at itinerantfoodies.com.