I don’t know about you, but there are few things I love more than Sofia the First.
Sometimes we’ll be watching an old episode and my four-year-old will lose interest. He’ll start jumping off the couch or whatever. Even worse, sometimes he wants me to do something else with him before the episode is over. He’ll be all like, “Daddy, Daddy! Let’s pretend you think I’m in the TV.” Meanwhile, I’m like, “Dude, chill. We can pretend you’re trapped inside the TV for the two thousandth time today in a few minutes. Right now I need to find out if Sofia and her pathetic horse Minimus are going to overcome incredibly long odds––like the Sixers wining the NBA championship type of odds––to win this flying horse derby thing and in the process if that little jerk Prince Hugo is going to get his comeuppance.”
So, you can only imagine that I was pretty pumped to learn that I could write a letter to Sofia and get a personal response in the mail. Wait, I mean my four-year-old could write a letter to Sofia. It’s called Dear Sofia and I learned about it on Disney Junior, obviously.
I whipped out my trusty pen and construction paper that I always keep handy for any letter writing opportunities that might arise. I figured I better ask my four-year-old if he wanted to get in on this. I was pretty sure he would, but the pen and paper were already out so this was happening either way.
Me: “Hey, you want to write a letter to Sofia? And mail it to her?”
4 y.o.: “Uh-huh.”
Me: “OK! What should we say?”
Notice how I said ‘we.’ That’s a parenting clinic. Makes the kid feel included.
4 y.o.: “I don’t know.”
Me: “How about Dear Sofia, How are you?”
Great start. Super classic opening.
4 y.o.: “OK.”
Me: “And then maybe we can ask her a question. What do you want to ask her?”
4 y.o.: “Mmmm. I don’t know. Can I have a cookie?”
Me: “Is that a question for Sofia or me?”
4 y.o.: “Youuu.”
Me: “Let’s try to focus here. How about we ask her about the flying derby? You know, like, how is it that the few bales of hay that are placed under the course to cushion a dislodged rider’s fall happen to be located exactly where she falls off her horse and nowhere else? It seems almost like they were placed there by magic. Was it magic? If so, was Cedric involved?”
4 y.o.: “Sure.”
I wrote that question down. It was solid. It showed both attention to detail and in-depth knowledge of the show. I thought Sofia would appreciate that. Plus, we’d just watched that episode and it was bugging me.
Me: “And then maybe we can ask about the amulet thing? Like, why is the talking to animals thing played up more than the summoning princesses angle? If she had to choose just one amulet power, what would it be? She would have to go with the summoning princesses thing, right? Seems pretty obvious.”
4 y.o.: “…”
Apparently he wandered off. I heard some clunking around in the play room. Oh well, I figured I better finish this thing off. It’s probably what he wanted me to do.
Me (to myself, I guess): “This is a bit of a risk, but maybe we should close by asking about the elephant in the room: the parent situation? Was it a widow and widower situation or a divorce thing? And how did her mom even meet the King? Seems a bit sketchy, really. And how was all of this backstory just glossed over? It seems like the kids were remarkably unaffected by losing their parent to death or divorce.”
4 y.o.: “…”
He might’ve wandered outside or something at this point. I’m not sure. Thought I heard some laughter coming from the backyard. (It’s fenced in, people. Calm yourselves. He wasn’t playing in traffic or anything.)
Anyway, I was pretty happy with how the letter was shaping up. I was finally going to get answers to some of my burning questions. I mean, my four-year-old’s burning questions. The only thing left to do was sign the letter and get it ready to mail.
Me (yelling out the back door): “Hey, you want to sign this letter real quick?”
4 y.o.: “No! Can I have a cookie?”
Sweet. I heaved a sigh of relief because I was a little worried he might mess that part up. Instead, I went ahead and signed his name. I did it with a crayon and made the letters all crooked and stuff. It turned out pretty good.
Then I, I mean we, mailed the letter off to Sofia and waited.
Four to six weeks later, Sofia’s response arrived! I was suitably pumped when I opened the mailbox. The envelope was pink and it had the official seal of the royal family on it. Good start.
I was going to wait to open it with my kid, but he was somewhere else. I opened the envelope carefully and this is what I found.
Seriously? An obviously canned, formulaic response? My son deserved so much more for all the work he put into his letter. I was, needless to say, a bit upset with Sofia. I even considered boycotting her show.
But then I flicked on Disney Junior and there she was. All smiley and earnest and full of adventurous spirit. And, of course, it was the trolls episode. You know which one I’m talking about. Oh Sofia, I could never stay mad at you.