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What Anna and Elsa taught me about my fear of missing out

(AP Photo/Disney)

When I bought the tickets six months ago, I assumed my 10-year-old daughter would be delighted to attend a Disney on Ice performance of “Frozen.” Besides, within minutes of receiving the text from my friend about the show, at least seven other mothers had messaged back “We are in!” or “Sounds like a plan,” like a set of dominoes falling one by one.

How could I not take my daughter? 

The morning of the performance, my daughter entered my room while I brushed my hair.

“Momma, do we have to go?” she asked.

“What do you mean, honey? You don’t want to see “Frozen”? The ice skating will be cool to watch,” I responded. Anger loomed, dependent on her response.

“Well, momma, it just seems like it is for little kids. But since you bought the tickets, we can go.”

I discarded her comment, chalking it up to a reflection of her strutting her new double-digit self, having just turned 10 the week before.

She really wants to go, I thought. She’s just trying to act like she’s grown up. 

We carpooled to the performance with another friend. My daughter squeezed her body in between a five-year-old and her seven-year-old sister. As I gazed back at my little girl, I spotted her fashion-forward scarf, plaid shirt and leggings ensemble. Brown boots accessorized her pre-tween outfit. In that moment, it hit me how much older she appeared straddled in the middle of two girls who were so much younger.

No, she really wanted to come to “Frozen.” It will be fun. She will love it once we get there. 

We parked our car, made our way toward the arena. While we didn’t hold hands like we used to when she was younger, our closeness was represented by the mere inches between us as we walked. At the entrance, there were several little girls dressed like Anna and Elsa, wearing glittery gowns with tulle at the bottom, hair braided taut, with their vigilant mothers clutching their hands tight. My daughter walked ahead with an independence that jolted me — I quickened my pace to catch up to her, leaned over and asked, “Isn’t this fun?”

Her silence broadcast her true feelings.  

No, she wasn’t having fun. Not yet. It’s okay. She’ll enjoy it when the show starts, I convinced myself. 

We slid into our chairs, and I greeted some of the mothers and their kids. My daughter barely registered the other kids’ presence. I observed that every girl and boy sitting in our area was more child than tween. Nobody was my daughter’s age. She was the oldest of the group.

Within minutes the lights darkened and several familiar characters from my daughter’s childhood — Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Cinderella and Donald Duck — started serenading the ice. I hesitated to look, but I could imagine my daughter’s eyes rolling as the younger girls and boys squealed with excitement and wonder while performers garbed in larger-than-life-sized costumes skated around the rink.

A quarter of an hour into the show, I realized the mistake I’d made by committing to take my daughter to this event. The only reason I’d bought the tickets in the first place was because of FOMO — fear of missing out. When I purchased the tickets, I was worried that my daughter might be missing out on an experience. But, the real reason I said yes to the tickets was because of my own insecurities. Hidden among my frantic machinations was the truth I had refused to face — that she outgrew “Frozen” almost three years ago.

With that realization, I thought about other events I had attended with my daughter. Did she really want to go, or was my FOMO parenting playing a part?

I plan to continue to ask myself this question each time I attend an outing with her, particularly as my daughter moves into her tween years.

After an hour, the show had its planned intermission and my daughter and I bought a snack of cinnamon pretzels. She took one bite and smiled,”This is the best part of the show, Momma.”

Although she’ll always love her pretzels, I realized something else. The joys and loves of a five-year-old girl — dolls, kitchen play sets, Legos and Disney — no longer work for my daughter.

I’m going to have to accept this epiphany. Because it’s not just about me. And although I’m willing to deal with my own fear of missing out, I never want to neglect my daughter’s wishes and desires.

In the words of Elsa — the Disney character my daughter has already left far behind — I think it’s time to let my FOMO go.

Rudri Bhatt Patel is an attorney turned writer and editor. She writes her personal musings on her blog, Being Rudri. She is working on a memoir that explores Hindu culture, grief and appreciating life’s ordinary graces. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook

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