My son and I have been watching the Ron Howard film Apollo 13 quite a lot lately. Ryan is very interested in spaceflight. Originally I showed him the same scene I used to show my fourth-grade students -- a scene that showed the 3 “astronauts” as they demonstrated weightlessness in a broadcast for the audience back on Earth. But my son was curious and wanted to watch more of the movie.
It’s got a PG rating (the same as Frozen; a movie that his kindergarten teacher showed his class two years ago).
I am a big Apollo 13 fan. Twenty years ago, my dad and I saw the movie in the theater. I owned the soundtrack on cassette and read the James Lovell book that inspired the movie. I was the girl who had wanted to be an astronaut, and I reveled in watching the movie.
So I’m more than happy to watch the movie with Ryan. We talk about why the movie is important. How it shows teamwork, determination, and creative problem solving (remember the guys who figured out how to put a square cartridge into a round hole?)
Ryan now wants to meet Tom Hanks.
But that’s not all. He tells me he wants to walk on the moon. I told him when he’s up there he can actually moonwalk on the moon. (After all, Alan Shepherd, Commander of the Apollo 14, hit a golf ball on the moon. Take a look at this website that includes a video of this incredible feat: www.pga.com/news/golf-buzz/feb-6-1971-alan-shepard-plays-golf-moon)
If you haven’t watched Apollo 13 in a while, I highly recommend it. The story is incredible -- because it’s mostly true. (Like all movies based on a true story, some things have been changed.) But the essential elements are in place. There are relationships and connections that move you. Each time I see it, I cry along with the wives as the Saturn V rocket launches. My son and I embrace when Apollo 13 successfully splashes down into the South Pacific. And you gotta respect Gene Kranz with his passionate declaration, “Failure is not an option.”
It makes me proud to say that my son and I watch this movie together and then later re-enact lines of dialogue. And when Ryan gets to the moon, he has promised to blow a kiss down to me on Earth.