Grand Opening, Grand Closing

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Youngster was home from preschool yesterday. He had a doctor’s appointment and I figured we could make it a fun “stay home day,” as he likes to call the weekend. There’s a heat wave in the North East, and there’s work/paint happening at our new house. Where does one go to escape all that, but still have a blast? The movies!

It’s cool in there. You’re sitting in comfy seats, eating popcorn. Good times written all over it, yes? Hmm … not necessarily.

Taking it back a step: Over the weekend, my son and I were sitting out on the patio eating popcorn. He’s new to the snack since I’ve always been hyper-freaked-out-ish about popcorn and little windpipe and choking. Leave me.

Anyway, while munching along (and making sure to chew it up really well … again, let me be) we were talking about popcorn and places people tend to eat it. He said the circus. I said the movies. He paused, clearly thinking it through. I explained that at the movies, people usually like to get buttery popcorn in a bag with a drink. I also told him that it’s dark in the movie theatre, and the screen is really big.

His interest was piqued, clearly, so I said: “Maybe we can go to the movies a day soon.”

“Yeeaaah!,” he said, eyes wide and bright. “And I can have popcorn with butter in a bag.”

Later that night, I hit up the MMM crew on Facebook as well as Common Sense Media (a site which, if you are not already regularly checking, you’re doing it all wrong, parents. AS USUAL.) to find some worthy movie recommendations. There are a couple of movies coming later this summer — Turbo and Planes — that sound right up his alley. But playing right now, there was only one: Monsters University. 

Common Sense Media told me that it was age appropriate, and a good friend gave me a light warning that there may be a few bits that could be a tad scary for a 4-year-old. Fine. I was informed, locked and loaded. To the movies we go!

The kid was super excited. He was even clapping his hands in his car seat when we pulled out of the doctor’s office parking lot.

“Do want to have lunch first?” I asked.

“No. Let’s go to the movies first and then have lunch. That’s what I think we should,” he said, like a man who weighed his options.

He was giggling and clapping still when we got there and hopped out of the car. He was even hopscotching down the pavement towards the theatre.

But the excitement started to ebb when we got into the darkened, huge and largely empty room. He asked where everyone was — there were maybe four other families (one parent, one or two kids) there. The flip seats also made him pause. He looked like he was thinking: Can I steady myself on this or will I flip and slip through the back? A trailer already in progress, and it was loud. Another trailer followed, then about three more, and each were as loud or louder than the last.

He looked part mesmerized, part agitated, and I stayed watching him. I moved the popcorn box from his lap. I had a feeling that we might not be staying for the full show.

The feature was starting. The lights dimmed even more, to full black. And that’s when it came …

“It’s too loud in here. And too dark. I don’t like this. I want to leave, Mama.”

I convinced him to watch a minute more, to see if he might settle into it once the main movie got rolling. He watched for that minute more.

“I still don’t like this. Let’s leave, please.”

And with that, we did. He kept his small pink lemonade and sipped it slowly as we got back to the car. I could tell if felt a bit strange, awkward, like he may have let me down. Never that. I started talking casually about other things, about the bright sun and the oversized truck parked nearby. He relaxed back into his sweet self and chatted back.

“You know, I thought it was really loud in that movie theatre too,” I said, once we were back on normal ground. “Maybe next time it’ll be better.”

“Yeah,” he said, happily sipping away. “Next time.”

  • 1
    Catherine says:

    When we were children my younger brother really got scared in the cinema because the first scene was that of a helicopter and he thought it would fly out of the screen. He realised later that it was, as he called it, just a “big television.”

    Your son sounds really sweet and I admire how you handled the situation. Perhaps a play/musical for two to five-year-olds would be good for a start (that is, if you haven’t taken him to one yet). Same dark room but not as loud and they are normally packed.

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      Thanks, Catherine. I think we’ll have to just try a bit later. However, we did watch Despicable Me (the first one) on TV yesterday, and he was good. He even said, “I wasn’t scared of anything that time, Mom!”