Let me preface this by saying that, though I prefer them to be the variety I can hand back to parents at the end of the day, I really do like kids. Having none of my own allows me to be choosy, and I choose to spend time with the good ones. Sorry if that offends.
I was 3-years-old the first time my dad took me to a movie in a theater. Star Wars: A New Hope. Yes, the original release - let's not discuss how old that makes me.
I don't remember much, but my dad assures me I talked my way through the whole movie. The people around us were, apparently, not amused. My dad did not bring me back to a theater for a movie until after I was in school.
Proper etiquette was always a big deal. Arrive on time (early, even) to avoid disrupting others looking for a seat. Don't get up in the middle of the movie unless it's an emergency. If you're going to snack, do so quietly - no one wants to hear your wrapper crinkling or your soda slurping in the middle of the big scene. Don't talk sort of went without saying. Just because your feet can reach the seat in front of you doesn't mean they should touch.
Breaking these rules was never acceptable. I was told once, it was explained to me why, I never questioned. Had I pushed the limit, I suspect it would have been a few more years before I set foot in another movie theater.
(By the way, the rules are even stricter at a live performance; something I learned when I was 5-years-old and my mother took me to see Annie on Broadway).
So the other day, I went to a movie in the afternoon. Parental Guidance is rated PG, so the local discount theater was showing it at 1:20 PM. Just because a movie is playing at that hour doesn't automatically mean it's OK for little kids - but apparently, many think that's the case. The theater was full of small children.
Personally, I didn't think the movie was OK for little kids. First, it was way too long. Second, some of the themes in the movie were too difficult for a small child to understand - which would add to the boredom. There wasn't any inappropriate language or scenes, but I'm not convinced that just because a kid can make it through a movie without needing therapy doesn't mean he should.
Most of these kids were, I'd guess, at least 8 years old. Some were a little older, there may have been one or two even a little younger. Definitely all school age. Yet, it wasn't long before I noticed these kids were not really that well-behaved. They talked - a lot. They kicked seats in front of them. They get out of their seats and ran around the theater. They made a lot of noise.
It made me wonder why their parents are not teaching them better - or why aren't they listening. I mean - they're all the age I was when I was taught not to behave this way. So what's the problem?
Then, I started to notice something else....
Adults getting up and climbing over people to leave the theater in the middle of the movie...the woman next to me eating candy from a cellophane wrapper and not even trying to do so quietly...the couple behind me having a conversation.
Apparently, in order to be a good kid, you need to start with a good example. This says a lot about the parents of my favorite kids.
Thanks again, Dad.