Frozen has a lot to answer for…
Well a 7inch plastic Elsa doll to be precise…with a moulded blue dress and scratchy tule cloak attached with small slithers of surprisingly effective Velcro. And big almond shaped eyes. Did you know there are articles about the size of these eyes? The Psychology of Giant Princess Eyes. I didn’t believe it too but I looked it up on google…and there it is…all about why Disney’s “princess formula is so effective: Enlarged eyes, tiny chins, and short noses make them look more like babies, which creates an air of innocence and vulnerability”*. Right now the illusion isn’t working for me. The eyes of this doll make her look like she is on some kind of drug or struggling with her thyroid…and she has enough black eye liner to make a theatrical make up artist wince. An almost scary exaggeration of the animated Elsa from the film.
And this doll can sing. If you dare breathe close enough to trigger the sensitive button on its chest it belts out the five chorus lines of Let it Go…and for a 7 inch doll with a speaker no bigger than a 5 pence piece it’s loud. Especially at 2:30am last night!
I woke in an instant and darted into H’s bedroom searching for the doll before she would awake. Elsa had been one of a few chosen to sit at the bottom of her bed but now H’s foot had wandered out from under the sheet, twisted the duvet around her leg and plonked itself on top of the toys. H stirred. I grabbed. I ran…
And any parents whose child has this toy will already be nodding in acknowledgment right now. As I root around under the tule cloak, tugging frantically at the Velcro and pulling up her hair I set her off again in another chorus. There’s nowhere to go and I shut the bedroom door but it’s too late. I hear H sit up in bed, rubbing her eyes.
“She hasn’t got an off button mummy”.
No off button! No bloody off button!!
“Let it go…”. Oh my god. There she goes again.
H tosses and turns in bed beside me, had enough sleep to take the edge off tiredness after 6 and a half hours…unlike myself who stayed up late working. Finally she settles and with Elsa shut in the bathroom away from any possible vibrations I snuggle into my pillow.
“Let it go..let it go!” She’s at it again. H chuckles as she quickly awakes sitting up and looking at me. It’s off or out the window for Elsa as I look for small tools in the bedside drawer to open her up. “Don’t hurt her, don’t hurt her. She’s my favourite doll Mummy”.
Cuticle stick…breaks. Toothpick…bends, scissors…gnaw at the thread. I’m working like the elves in the elves in the shoemaker. Tongue sticking slightly out to the right between gritted teeth. Concentrating, making my hands move quickly but without the right tools for the job. Metal tweezers. Tweezers…all the time I’m trying to undo the back panel she is bellowing out but eventually the tweezers unscrew the bitch and the batteries come out. Three of them! No wonder she belts it out. More battery power than I’ve got lungs!!
And she isn’t the only one without an off switch. H now wide awake decides to tell me all about the dream she was having before Elsa woke her up. How the tooth fairy will be coming when she is bigger and the money she will bring in exchange for a tooth. What she had eaten for lunch. And tea. And snack. And the grapes she stole from Nannys shopping in Tesco…before they had even paid. I check the clock 3:30. Tick tock. 3 hours til the alarm goes off.
We battle for territory in the super king size bed. H wants a cuddle but never a warm one. She likes to be cool so I’m forced to try to sleep without my duvet and with a small child’s head buried into my neck. I’m beyond uncomfortable but I daren’t move. And I can feel she is not asleep. I can almost hear her eyelashes flickering and her mind whirring…trying to think of a good reason to engage me in conversation. I’ll get 2 minutes max before she is on the move again. “I’ve forgotten Molly”…we manage 35 seconds.
We talk about what she enjoyed doing at the weekend. Her favourite bits and what she hopes to do again…if she goes to sleep like a good girl. She keeps looking at me. She knows being awake at this time is naughty but she laps up the mischievousness of it, loving the quiet time we are spending whilst the rest of the world sleeps… just the two of us…but she keeps checking in to see if I am cross. “Smile Mummy” She rubs her nose against mine and pulls her “cheeky face” as she calls it. “Big proper smile, like this Mummy”. 4:23am.
I get up and turn off the nightlight. The sun is just starting to rise so there is a low level glow in the bedroom and I tell her that’s the end of our fun. Sleep or go back to her room. I’ve been very patient and I’m sure I’ve probably caught a few moments dozing but now I’m tired and I know I’ll be ridiculously out of sorts tomorrow. I’ll be running on Mummy juice whilst writing a board report and negotiating terms with a difficult supplier. I’ll be relying on the unique type of hormone, a bit like adrenalin, that pumps though the body of parents with children who deprive them of sleep. It makes you grumpy, ineffective and drink lots of coffee. It also makes you forgetful.
Right now I moan about my lack of sleep. The fidgeting and the constant chatter. I growl at the inconvenience of sharing my huge bed with my tiny little princess. I forget about the cheeky face and the stories she so desperately wanted to tell me.
But it only takes one 8 hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep and she’s the best thing ever again.
That’s because I’ve found the off switch!
*Quote taken from The Psychology of Giant Princess Eyes – How Disney’s caricature-esque women came to define “the fairest of them all” by Olga Halzan for the Atlantic.com. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/the-psychology-of-giant-princess-eyes/281209/