Is there no escape from the blight that is Frozen? Granddaughter 2 and me approached our usual table in PizzaExpress – she likes to doing the same things in the same place (but often with a manic twist) when she comes for a sleepover. Some little girls in party frocks were sitting with a few grown-ups at a long table along one side of the restaurant. And, oh god, there was a giant blow-up snowman grinning grotesquely down on them from on high surrounded by a froth of pink and white balloons with Frozen printed on them – not a pretty sight. On the table was a pink and white Frozen cake with a couple of frozen effigies on top – a white and pink Elsa (who sings THAT song) and her pink and white sister, Anna, (who doesn’t). And to cap it all, when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, a dad went and lit the pink and white candles and a giant roman candle in the middle of the cake spat pink and silver sparks up in the air. Thank god they sang Happy Birthday to you and not Let it go.
Granddaughter 2 has always been a Dorothy and Toto fan, but sadly she grew out of her red sparkly shoes a few years ago. And she’s always preferred films with real actors (and dogs) rather than celluloid Barbie lookalikes. I suggested finding a Frozen-free zone but, a creature of habit, she looked disapprovingly at a table the other side of the restaurant so we sat down at ‘our’ table. The waiter approached. What’s this? she’s reading the main menu – before she always asked for the kiddies’ menu and even dressed the part in a frock with hair in bunches with ribbons (like Dorothy) and brought along a teddy bear – she doesn’t do things by halves. Was she reacting to the abundance of kiddies’ menu doughball starters dotted up and down the Frozen table? Or was this part of the rites of passage from childhood into the pre-teens? Well, her twelfth birthday was the following Friday.
We shared a margherita pizza and a superfood salad (she’s into healthy eating) and so didn’t get the usual wordsearch or spot-the-difference pictures placemat to entertain us. But instead she read out the menu ‘like that person on Masterchef’, she said. And, still in Masterchef mode, she chose panna cotta for dessert – well, I didn’t know what that was until I was at least sixty-nine and a half. ‘How do you make it?’ she asked. ‘I think you mix cream with gelatine,’ said I. She thought for a moment: ‘So you could put gelatine in some water, put a flower in it and let it set in a glass so it couldn’t get spilt,’ she said. ‘Wow, that’s fresh,’ I was thinking and Will.i.am says on the tele.
When she’d arrived on Saturday I hadn’t twigged that things might be a-changing. As per usual we’d played the Fruit Game outside – in Feb it was a bit chilly plunging your face in a large bowl of cold water and counting to 10 when you dropped the banana being flung at you – but hey, she’d invented the game and I try to be up for most things (unless they’re high, fast or remotely dangerous). And she’d brought the Exploding Experiment Kit for making the usual volcano. Sadly, she’d lost the Bath Bomb kit, but it was running out of chemicals and we’d had to use custard powder instead of cornstarch last time. ‘Interesting,’ she’d said as one by one the bombs sunk to the bottom of the bath. But maybe I should’ve seen the signs when she said she didn’t want a KFC Boneless Banquet for supper and wanted to cook something at home. But of course, being granddaughter 2, this was not going to be a run-of-the-mill meal. For school recently she’d had to come up with an idea for a food app and hers was recipes to create meals from that stuff you never use that lurks in the sticky dark at the back of your kitchen cupboards. We ended up with some brown pasta you buy in Tesco’s on a health kick and never use since it takes yonks to go soft. But it was worth the wait since she served it with some meat balls spiced up with curry powder I didn’t even know I had.
She seemed a bit tired so we settled down in our pjs under a duvet to watch The Voice and left the volcano for Sunday. Her mum had told me that she’s finding her first year at secondary school tough. They
don’t make it easy, do they? Stressing children out with all this talk about targets, tests and threats of detention. It makes my blood boil (I’m still on the tablets). When her sister started in Year 7, she was threatened with detention if she turned up for gym again wearing the wrong colour socks – what’s that all about? Are they trying to crush the joy of learning out of them for ever? You’d think they could cut them a bit of of slack with this particular rite of passage, wouldn’t you? They’re only eleven or twelve, for god’s sake, and this is a huge change – isn’t there enough to cope with moving from a small primary school to an enormous big school – at her school there are eight Year 7 classes each with around 30 pupils. And they’ve left friends behind and have to make new ones, there’s new rules, new places, new teachers etc etc etc – give them a break, please. End of rant.
Last Friday was granddaughter 2’s birthday and early evening we all walked up to The Harvester – she, granddaughter 3 and grandson are big fans of the Unlimited Salad Bar and Unlimited Refill Soft Drinks offers and they do vegetarian stuff for ethical granddaughter 1. In the middle of her supper, the birthday girl groaned (for dramatic effect) and fell face down into her flame-grilled chicken breast meal – after another week of school she was ‘too tired to eat any more’. We asked for a doggy bag and went home – well, she needed a good night’s sleep because she was going to see Wicked with her mum at the theatre the next day. Apparently, Wicked gives you a vital insight into the background of the three witches in The Wizard of Oz before they get to meet Dorothy (and Toto). My daughter gave me a resumé of the story – it’s a bit complicated. But granddaughter 2 thought Wicked was, of course, wicked. And I’m wondering – once a Dorothy and Toto fan, always a Dorothy and Toto fan? Watch this space.