I’m Working on a PhD in “Moana”

I'm Getting My PhD in Moana

Disclosure: the Moana DVD is affiliate-linked! Please read my disclosure page for more info.

Moana came out last year. I took the kids to see it with my niece and bonus-sister (Yu-Han’s mom, Jeanie). I sobbed my way through, like you know, the BIG GULPING kind of sobs, help! I can’t control my snot and sounds kind of sobs. It was so wrenching for me, having lost Dana and my grandma (and grandpa too).

And the details! The manta rays! I LOVE MANTA RAYS! The tapa cloth, the island stuff – I grew up in the Pacific, remember? I’m the whitest island girl you’ll ever meet.

So anyway, I was sobbing, a red-eyed, wet-shirted mess when we left the theatre.

Then we went again.

Both times, Moxie was totally cool watching it, which is rare. Normally it takes a while for her to like a movie, and in the meantime, she wants bathroom breaks, which involve lots of running around, hand driers and automatic soap dispensing. If the movie isn’t captivating enough, it’s just not worth shelling the bucks out to go, because I’ll spend half the movie escorting her to the bathroom or chasing her around the theatre lobby.

Moana was different though- Moxie really loved it; the boys did too, and me, yeah, well, I might have loved it the most.

Then Moana Came Out on DVD!

Mack saw it at Target (and everyone in Target knew he did, too! Ha!), right after every other drool-worthy product (good thing we have birthdays coming up in May). We bought it and it’s been viewed at least once a day at home. At least once a day; we’re looking at twice on weekends.

I’m okay with it – I’ve needed little breaks, but overall, I’m oddly comfortable with 600 viewings of Moana.

Perhaps I’m comfortable with it because besides the fabulous music and gorgeous animation, there are a lot of messages about courage, self-sufficency, inter-dependence, history and love that I like about it.

I even liked the fact that Moana disobeyed her Dad in the story. Why? Because Moana’s not a child at that point. She is nearly a chief herself. She is obeying her Grandma and most importantly, her own heart.

I don’t want my kids to be blindly obedient; I want them to think for themselves after they – like Moana has in the movie, reached the age of reason. I saw a whole lot of that blind obedience while I lived in Japan, and frankly, it didn’t impress me all that much.

Another thing I like about it?

I like that the kids love it so much that they role play it out now. Moxie becomes Moana, Mack becomes Maui and Micah plays the part of the ancestors (he likes singing in the foreign language). As I posted on the video on Facebook, I love seeing my daughter standing up and imitating it all:

We’re Going Back to Hawai’i in a Couple of Weeks

Besides the fact that I’m excited to go back and really start figuring out where we want to move to, and also excited to SWIM (and stuff myself with lilikoi, poki, spam musubi and shave ice), I’m looking forward to going over a lot of the stuff from Moana with the kids.

Like, for example, visiting the Volcano and talking about Te Ke/Pele. It’s cool that we’ll be able to look at lava in every stage of its evolution.

I am really lucky in that I know how to make kapa (called tapa cloth in Fiji; the “cloth” that Moana’s Grandma has her stories drawn on, and in which they wear), and know the plants that they used to weave the mats and clothes. I want to take the kids to the observatory on Mauna Kea, talk about the stars and way finding.

That’s where my PhD in Moana is going to come in handy, right?! I’m pretty sure at this point that I’ll be able to relate most of the movie to real-life stuff that helps the kids understand life and the Pacific Islands a little better, and even better (as Tamatoa says), in song form!

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is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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  • I, too, am a Haoli raised in Hawai’i and miss home dearly. I, too, loved Moana. Moana also opened the door for my children, now young adults, to understand “my” world,, and how my values were formed, just a bit more. I took them to Hawai’i several years ago and they were enchanted. They will go back at some point in the future. I have notice my adult children, moving forward in life and more willing to take risks to reach their goals.

    Mahalo, for writing about Moana.

  • My son is addicted to Moana….his parents secretly are too! Shh don’t tell anyone. I get emotional every time Moana and the Garden Goddess at the end touch heads. The first time I saw it I nearly died. It’s the same thing Livy and I use to do every time I pulled her out of the bathtub.

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