Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One Ticket for Common Sense, Please

Last Tuesday, my friend and I headed out for dinner and a movie. We have been BFF's since third grade and recently have developed the ritual of a Tuesday night get together about once a month. We find a restaurant that has great deals (like the $2 off wine and 1/2 off sushi we enjoyed last night-- well, I did, she hates fish) and then head to our local movie theater which shows flicks for $5 on Tuesdays. It's a great mommy night out, we get to catch up on each other's lives, and we also get to see a cheap movie. You can't beat it.

So, after our meal , we headed to the theater to see Mirror, Mirror. We arrived right as the movie was beginning and took our seats. There were about four other groups of people already seated. We plopped down in front, put our feet up and were ready to enjoy the acting of Julia Roberts.

About five minutes into the movie, I heard a very familiar whining sound. It was for sure a toddler whine. My mommy ears perked up a little bit, since I can't seem to turn the darn things off, and listened for an emergency. Oh, wait, I thought, this is my night off. MY NIGHT OFF FROM TODDLER WHINING. Alas, there was no escape, because what appeared to be a mom and a grandmother had brought two very young children to the theater. If I had to guess, I would say one was ten to eleven months and the other was around 2 years old. Grandma walked to the entryway of the theater with the toddler (not OUT of the theater, just away from the seats), attempting to calm him. Then the baby started and mom took him down to the exit as well. Then all four of them went back to their seats. Repeat this about four or five times and you have the routine of the evening.

Perhaps the highlight of this child wrangling within the theater was when the grandma sat in our row, whispering into the toddler's ears threats, pleas, and promises, in an attempt to get him to sit still and watch the movie. When verbal attempts were ineffective, she placed her open hand across his forehead and forced him backwards against her chest in an attempt to lessen his movements.

Yes, lady. That's a good idea. Actually, what you should have brought was a toddler straight jacket because there is no way in hell a two year old is going to sit through an hour and 45 minutes movie. In a theater. Without cartoons in it.

While my initial feeling was annoyance that my attempt to escape little ones for the evening had been foiled, it quickly faded into feeling empathetic towards the tykes that I was trying to avoid. I am all about reasonable expectations for children. Boundaries, rules, and consequences are essential, but when you fold in something that your child is literally incapable of achieving, you are setting your kid up for failure. Can a two year old really sit quietly in a movie theater for almost two hours without disturbing others? No. Frankly, I know very few adults that can even accomplish that.

I am pretty opposed to age restrictions in businesses. Last year when one of the biggest controversies in the parenting world was restaurants that forbid children younger than six years old, it made me a tad livid. At the time, Amelia was about six months old and reaching a golden age where she was no longer fussy and would sit happily in her car seat while we dined. So for a business to say "Hey, you brought a baby, your money's no good here" really ticked me off.

Of course, one bad apple spoils it for us all. I'm sure that businesses consider permanently kicking out little ones when some parent lets their child squall even though the best bet would be to leave. Again, where is the common sense here? Amelia is 18 months old now and her tolerance for sitting is lower than it was last year. So what do we do? Stick to restaurants that are louder and have quicker service. That leaves us limited to mostly Mexican food and bar & grills. When we did attempt a nicer place a few weeks ago (a sushi place), Amelia picked that evening to throw a fit, who knows about what. So as my husband spoke to the waitress about getting our food to go, I walked around with Amelia outside. See? Common sense.

As a final thought, I have to wonder, was this night out even fun for mom and grandma? It made me sweat a little just watching them go in and out and begging the kids to be quiet. Personally, I would have spent the money on a rented movie and a cheap bottle of wine and stayed in for the evening.

I imagine in about a year (this would put Amelia at 2.5) Amelia might be ready for a mommy/daughter date to see a 75 minute cartoon based movie. As a lover of all things childish, I can't wait. But until then, Amelia will be at home with Daddy when I need to escape to see a movie.

What are your thoughts? What is the youngest age you would take a child to a movie theater?

1 comment:

Kat said...

Lol! Definitely NOT 2. My son just turned two in April I would not dream of taking him to a movie. It'd be a waste of my money to sit there for the 20 minutes to finish the popcorn off, start a tantrum for more, and then have to leave cuz he's screaming and crying like a banshee. I don't know what the earliest age to start taking them would be, this is my oldest I would guess like kindergarten tho?