Sea turtles are very popular at my house right now. They are quickly taking over my 21-month-old’s world, and by extension, my world too. When we go to the park, we have to look for turtles. When we go to the aquarium, it’s the turtles he wants to see, not fish. And now that I’ve shown him parts of Finding Nemo, he constantly asks for “Turtles” at home. In fact, I’m pretty sure he thinks the movie is called Finding Turtles and that they are in fact the main characters. He doesn’t really give a care about poor kidnapped Nemo.
He has even started saying “Duuuuuude.”
I was never really into the movie to begin with, and now that I’ve faced infant loss and PTSD I really don’t like the movie at all (the dad’s character, Marlin, hits way too close to home), but my son loves his turtles, and they have an integral part in the film – one might even say the best part. I know my kid would agree.
In the scene where Marlin wakes up and finds himself riding the back of Crush the sea turtle, he asks for help finding the “East Australian Current” so that he can get to Sydney, and Crush tells him they’re already on it.
The camera pans up as Marlin beholds a flock (?) of Sea Turtles swimming behind him, and you’d think my son has just witnessed a computer-animated miracle.
He holds his breath and screams “TURTLES!” over and over, flailing his little arms. Sometimes he jumps up and down. He experiences so much joy from those turtles, he can’t help himself. He just loves them that much.
No matter how many times he has watched that scene, his level of exuberance is the same.
He also looks back at me (or my husband), as if he’s gauging our response, and waits for us to cry something like “Yeah, turtles!” or “Wow, look at all those turtles!” Which we always do, no matter how sick we are of watching the same scene over and over and over and over.
He smiles at us, and then goes back to reveling in his joy.
I guess this is the part in Parenthood where your kid starts reminding you of yourself.
Because we are not so different, he and I. I get just as excited about stuff that I like (a certain Toxic Event comes to mind) and if you were to witness me enjoying a particular thing (say, a show), I probably wouldn’t look that much different than my kid watching Finding Nemo for the millionth time.
I guess I’ve always been that way, even since childhood. I’m a passionate person, and when I love something, I really, really love it. I want to talk about it. I want to tell you about it. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t gauging your response as a kind of way to validate my own feelings about it.
Because experiencing joy is great, but experiencing joy with someone else is even better. Especially if you like the same thing. That’s why there are fan clubs and Comic-Cons. We all have something we completely “nerd out” about. Being a nerd is just loving something to the umpteenth degree.
The problem is, of course, there are always haters. There are always people who like to rain on someone else’s parade. And no matter how much we tell ourselves “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” sometimes it’s hard to shake it off and go on experiencing our joy.
No one should tell you to tone down your joy. You have every right to be as happy as you can be, whether you are broadcasting your happy relationship on Facebook, sharing a hundred baby pictures on Instagram, going to your twentieth Airborne show, or watching those darn turtles in Finding Nemo.
There is enough sadness and tragedy to go around. There is not nearly enough joy.
And while I am a fan of many things – bands, music, animals, babies, faith – after living through days of not feeling anything except lonely and being numb – I am a huge fan of experiencing joy and having something to be joyful about.
Even if it’s turtles.