I Hate Science: Troubles of a Mom Trying to Raise a Kickass Girl

As kids tend to do, mine had a strange Christmas list. She asked for the movie Frankenweenie on DVD which — at the time — was impossible. Frankenweenie hadn’t been released.

But it’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here. Frankenweenie hit DVD today (and Blu-Ray too, natch). And since she’d been asking, I cheated a little and let her get a look-see at a review copy that had been sent my way.

The timing couldn’t have been better.

See, I’ve been feeling like a bit of a mom failure lately. To raise a kickass girl these days, you have to get her interested in the sort of things that aren’t girly girly. You know, stuff like science.

Here’s the thing: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a science girl. As the daughter of a refrigeration and air conditioning contractor and a nurse practitioner, this has always made me a bit of a black sheep. I passed physics and chemistry because I studied hard, not because I showed any natural aptitude for the subjects.

But I don’t have a Regents diploma to shoot for anymore (been there, got it — it’s a New York thing) to force me to pretend I understand the difference between cumulus and cirrus clouds and why anyone would want to memorize the entire periodic table of elements. I have something bigger. I have a daughter who has to know that despite what certain presidents at Harvard think, girls can do anything … even science.

So what does this have to do with the street date of some kiddie flick?

Simple enough: Frankenweenie is Tim Burton’s take on the Mary Shelley classic. Only instead of Victor Frankenstein, creepy adult doctor creating a human being from pieces and parts pilfered from the morgue, we have Victor Frankenstein, kid inspired by his quirky science teacher to restore life to his beloved dog, Sparky.

I expected the story to scare the pants off of a kid who is almost as wussy as her mother (seriously, do not expect me to watch Hitchcock in the dark and then sleep through the night, OK?) because it’s Burton, it’s black and white, there are monsters, a dog dies, the whole nine … but she wasn’t. If anything, she was smitten. I suspect the boy and his dog story had a lot to do with it. Wrapped up in the darkness of the tale was this nugget of pure sugar. It was surprisingly heartwarming, and a complete hit.

But enough about the movie. More about me (oh yeah, I said it).

Here was this perfect little introduction to the whole “science is for cool kids” conversation I’ve been trying to kickstart. Victor and his pals, after all, had a science fair they were trying to win, and it started the whole shenanigans.

Lightbulb in the mom brain: I don’t need to be trying to teach her the periodic table or the difference between clouds right now. I just need to get her experimenting because … hey, you never know what will happen until you try.

Today she watched a dark movie and didn’t get scared. Tomorrow, finding the cure to cancer? You never know …

What movie has inspired you lately?

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