What’s the most accurate way to describe the relationship of children to “Frozen”? Adoration is insufficient, and obsession is downright weak. It’s more like a cathexis, an acutely intense energy focused on a singular entity. But ask any parent of school-aged children what they think about “Let It Go,” the anthem from the 2013 movie, and you will be met with instantaneous, zombielike paralysis, followed by mumblings of “kajillion times” and a sigh of defeat.
Alas, my grown-up friends, the second Era of Arendelle is upon us. Gird your ears. “Frozen 2” is due in theaters on Friday. So I talked to families around the country and in Britain to see how Elsa, Anna and that song changed their lives. Here are edited excerpts from the very lively conversations.
Elsa Gustafson-He, 6, and her mother, Mona He, of London
Elsa: When I was little, I loved having the same name as Elsa.
Mona He: She’s not named after the movie. It didn’t come out until she was a year and a half.
Elsa: I listened to “Let It Go” at least 91 times.
Mona He: That would be 91 times — a week.
Horatio Dennis, 4, and his parents, Mark and Erin Dennis, of Brooklyn
Horatio: I like the Kristoff song when he says good night to his reindeer!
Mark Dennis: When I hear the music, I put my fingers in my ears and hum very loudly. I’m cynical and British.
Erin Dennis: I’m totally OK with it, because it has a message of female empowerment. But I do have a small concern that my husband has an issue with powerful women.
Mark Dennis: But that’s why I married you. What does that say?
Aidan O’Hara, 11, the twins Smith and Stella O’Hara, 4, and their mother, Stephanie O’Hara of Norman, Oklahoma
Aidan: My little sister and brother play it every day. It’s so iconic.
Smith: I love “Let It Go!” Elsa wants to let go of her gloves to make sure she still has 10 fingers.
Stella: It’s his favorite song. It just is! He sings it lots and lots of times. It gets on my nerves.
Stephanie O’Hara: Just the other day I walked into Smith’s room, and he was in his underwear with a blanket wrapped around him, twirling and belting “Let It Go” in front of the mirror. I have heard that song so many times, my ears bleed! I’d never tell him, though.
Boston Vigil, 10, and his mother, Heather Holladay, of Birmingham, Michigan
Heather Holladay: When he met Elsa at Disney World, it was like he had seen Elvis. He didn’t know what to do with himself, twisting around like a teenage girl, like, “Oh my God, oh my God.”
Boston: I’m Team Elsa, because she has powers. I like how she can make ice rise from the floor.
Heather Holladay: One Christmas in Florida, Boston learned that it wasn’t cold enough to “Build a Snowman.” He suggested singing the song together instead. During the part of the song that talks about playing together, he said, “But we’ll always be friends. I’ll always want to play with you, Mommy.”
Vanessa Chiu, 8, Caspian Chiu, 5, and their father, Victor Chiu, of New York
Vanessa: I used to have a “Frozen” purse with a microphone attached to it. It played music from the movie, and you could sing along to it.
Caspian: I don’t know what happened to that!
Victor Chiu: Kids are into it because Disney tells them to be. They make it ubiquitous.
Caspian: Oh, nice word!
Victor Chiu: You can’t escape the marketing machine.
Sarah Rider, 7, Calvin Rider, 6, Silvia Rider, 2, and their fathers, Peter Rider and Glenn Hill, of Brooklyn
Sarah: When I was younger, I would go crazy with the movie. We had Elsa and Anna dresses. And Kristoff and a little Olaf. And an Elsa wig!
Peter Rider: I came across a picture of her 4-year-old preschool class on Halloween. There were like, 18 kids in the class, and 10 were Elsa. And she was one of them.
Glenn Hill: We also had a “Frozen”-themed birthday party.
Peter Rider: Our 2-year-old said, “Hey, Google,” before she said any of our names. So now, she’s always yelling at the machine, “Hey, Google, play ‘Let It Go!’” It’s solid in her repertoire.
Zoe Toby, 9, and her mother, Mekeisha Madden Toby, of Los Angeles
Zoe: Anna’s power is caring for everybody! She cares about Olaf. She can make things and have fun. And everybody can do that, besides our president.
Mekeisha Madden Toby: But you have that power now. You are caring and affectionate.
Zoe: OK, I’d want my power to be flying. I could get places faster and never be late for school.
Mekeisha Madden Toby: Everything at her school was about “Frozen”: programs, parties, everything. It was endless.
Zoe: Anna is the funner sister because Elsa acts too proper. In preschool, people liked proper, because it’s elegant to be that, but I like sticking to my fundamentals.
Jessie-Pearl Limberger, 10, Anne-Mae Limberger, 7, and their mother, Charlita Mays, of Brooklyn
Jessie-Pearl: I’m in-between on “Let It Go.” I’d rate it as a 5 or 6. I like the song, but not Elsa’s personality. Her hairstyle and her singing voice were OK, but I feel like she wants attention.
Anne-Mae: I really liked Elsa when I was younger. Like, 1,899%.
Charlita Mays: They’re not as obsessed as they were when the movie first came out. They are over it.
Martha Bowers, 12, Helen Bowers, 7, and their mother, Erin Bowers, of High Point, North Carolina
Helen: It’s about the love of two sisters and how love can come from different places than a partner. Or men.
Martha: It’s really nice to see a Disney plot twist where a princess saves another princess, and they’re sisters. It’s something new and open-minded.
Erin Bowers: With two daughters, it was an obsessively large part of our lives. Twice. Helen still listens to it.
Martha and Helen (together): We bought our tickets [to “Frozen 2”] weeks ago.
Erin Bowers: I just hope the “Frozen 2” songs aren’t bad. If I have to listen to them a lot, I hope they’re OK.
Kiaran Katyal, 8, Jasmine Katyal, 4, and their mother, Sonia Katyal, of Berkeley, California
Jasmine: I like Elsa and Anna because they are nice and they play together. They are magical sisters. They are playing Monopoly with me right now.
Sonia Katyal: My children are in love with each other. It’s great for them to see siblings that are close, too. I even put a reference to “Frozen” in my will about sibling love.