The Boy is now nearly 11, which means he's pretty much good to go anywhere--well-behaved and self-contained, even at nice restaurants, movies, live theatre, and concerts. But I remember a time when he was, say, two--and taking him to a movie or restaurant often meant either leaving mid-meal or mid-movie. And sometimes it meant not going at all. It's part of being a parent.
Today, Jim and I took The Boy to see Sky High at the AMC Burlington. It turned out to be that rare kind of family entertainment that can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone. Everyone over the age of 5 that is. We arrived in plenty of time to find good seats (the theatre was packed--I really think this is going to be an under-the-radar hit). Just as the credits rolled, a family of five sat down in front of us. Now in general, that's not a problem--three of the family members were kids and correspondingly small, so they didn't block the view.
Unfortunately, we quickly deduced that at least two of the kids were under the age of four, with the youngest (I'm guessing) around 20 months. Twenty months means mobile and talkative,but not particularly attentive. I suppose the parents were happy to find a movie the whole clan could enjoy, but it quickly become clear that their happiness was predicated on disrupting the viewing enjoyment of nearby patrons, including us.
The littlest one quickly became restless and starting babbling to mom, then dad. Rather than remove her, however, the parents just let her walk around the aisle. Then the middle one (perhaps four) also starting talking audibly to his parents, who made only minor attempts to shush him. I made a few lame attempts at saying "shhh," but the fact is, it isn't the children who are to blame, and I'm sure the parents caught on the first time I made a negative noise.
Jim finally got up and moved several aisles back to the side. I hate watching movies from the side, so I gutted it out with The Boy. In the end, the movie was good enough to overwhelm the disruption (that's not always the case, depending on the movie).
I'm very tolerant of the behavior of young children in public. We were all children ourselves, of course. (Okay, there was that one time in Virginia when a little girl leaned over a restaurant booth and spit on my Burburry suit ....) I know sitters are expensive. And the parents probably wanted to see the movie for themselves. But I've also been the parent of a young child, and sometimes an event is overwhelming for little ones. They invented DVDs (and before that, videotapes) for just such occasions, until our children are a little older.
I hope the parents were a little embarrassed. But I hope they didn't take their embarrassment out on the kids. Like I said, it's not the kids who are to blame.