Mia is super-obsessed with Titanic all the sudden. I don’t really know why, but I can pinpoint the exact date it happened. Last Sunday, Mia’s friend Charli whispered, “Hey. There was this giant boat that sank a long time ago and a lot of people died and I think it’s really cool and so should you.” (Or something to that effect.)
So ever since then, Mia’s been dead-set on gathering every ounce of information she can on the Titanic, checking out library books, looking up pictures online, and of course, wanting to see the movie. Riding in our car the other day, she looks at me dead-serious with her big brown eyes and says out of nowhere, “Did you know that on April 14th 1912, disaster struck the world?” It was so hard not to laugh out loud.
She’s absolutely consumed. Last night I busted out with an old VHS copy of Titanic and you’d have thought I had gone to the moon and back to get her a golden unicorn. I was such a hero. We watched–the whole movie–mother, daughter, and disinterested little brother–until about 10:00 at night. Her eyes were straight glued to the screen during the entire sinking sequence. I watched her and I just laughed. She was totally engrossed. And she gets it from me.
Long before the movie came out and Celine Dion made our ears bleed with “My Heart Will Go On” every five freaking seconds for 12 months, I couldn’t learn enough about Titanic. Well, really, I was ate up with the ocean and those little water cars that bubble around on the ocean floor. I really, really wanted to be an ocean explorer. I didn’t want to study marine biology; I just wanted to drive a water car. And that was it. Exploring a giant shipwreck seemed an attainable enough goal.
(Ironically, I liked Celine Dion enough to beg for her very first English album. I listened to it over and over until my cassette tape garbled up in my boombox. Trendspotter? I think so.)
In the sixth grade I had the opportunity to take my obsession to new heights. We were required to do a 15-minute oral (and video-taped) report on something that interested us. Most of the girls in my class did some sort of endangered species (dolphins, pandas, tigers, etc.) or horses or kittens, or gymnastics. Most of the boys stuck to topics like Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan, or Michael Jordan. Me? I toyed with the idea of covering ice-skating, so I wouldn’t seem like such a freak, but my mom talked me into doing a report on my true passion: The Titanic. And so I worked that subject over and under and every which way. I drew diagrams, I got all the gory details and statistics, people. I knew my shtuff. When the day of my oral report came, I was ready.
Let me paint a picture of 6th grade me: Spring 1992. New girl in school, still a little awkwardly shy. Perma-red cheeks. Super-cute beginning acne. Braces. Frizzy dirty-blonde perm. Numerous cowlicks. Baby fat. Aqua t-shirt tucked into my skin-tight, bright purple, knee-length denim shorts. Neon pink socks. L.A. Gear high-tops.
I looked good.
I talked on for a full 15 minutes, in my soft, scared little voice, about a subject I knew was less than captivating for my audience. My visual aides were kick-ass, because if I could do anything in the sixth grade, it was art. And somewhere, in the deep dark depths of my mother’s attic, there might lie…
a video tape.
It might not be there, but it might be. I can’t be sure. I know that if I had gotten the chance, I would probably have destroyed it. I can’t run the risk of my husband seeing what a nerd I was, or worse–Cheyenne. I’ve worked very hard to give the impression that I was born cool. I can’t allow that kind of solid proof to the contrary to exist, not anywhere.
I risked social suicide that day. And while not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the Titanic, they could all appreciate the fact that a giant boat sank a long time ago and a lot of people died. My marker-on-posterboard renderings of the sinking ship were praised among all the sixth-grade classes. I became known as “the artist” or “that weird new girl who likes big boats but who draws good I guess.” I don’t know if anyone made fun of me behind my back, but if they did, I got the last laugh, because they were probably forced to remember shy newgirl and her oral report on the Titanic, 6 years later when the movie came out.
So it warms my heart to see Mia and her friends be so adorably interested in something so…not-girly. I hope that as they get older, they don’t start worrying about what other people will think of their passions. More captivated by big boats than by cheerleading and kittens? Awesome. Want to drive a water car? So cool. Want me to download “My Heart Will Go On” so you can listen to it over and over in the car and in the home? Certainly not.
I’m supportive of almost anything, but that mess will not be happening on my watch.