I always get a little bit of anxiety any time I try something new with my daughters. I’m never quite sure how they are going to react to something new. The first time I attempted to take all three kids, 6-year-old Anneka and 3-year-old twins Mia and Laila, to a movie theater, it didn’t go too smoothly. We saw the movie “Brave”, with my husband, who had the day off of work. While we drove around the multilevel indoor parking structure, both twins got upset. One started yelling “What’s taking so long?” while the other one exclaimed, “We’re never ever going to the movies!” I’m not sure where this came from, but for some reason, one of my twins, Laila, has taken on this negative attitude. It’s quite funny, at times, but mostly it’s frustrating.
If we take too long to go anywhere, Mia has to point out it’s taking too long while Laila has to automatically jump to the idea that it’s never going to happen. And one could assume that she got this from someone in the family, her father or myself, but I’m sure if I get frustrated I don’t exclaim that something is never going to happen. It was hilarious at first, maybe a little cute, but when you’re driving around and trying to find parking in Los Angeles and all of the spots seem full, the last thing in the world you want to hear is a toddler yelling about never finding a spot!
We finally found a parking spot and raced to the theater, because at that point we realized we only had 10 minutes to get around the corner and to the counter to buy the tickets, then up the escalator, then to find the actual theater in the multiplex. And don’t judge me, but yes, I pack snacks for my little ones and sneak them into the theater! I still buy popcorn there, but I definitely pack water bottles and some sort of other snack for them.
We got into the theater after what seemed like forever (maybe Laila does get her negativity from me? Hmmm…) and we found decent seats but we missed all of the previews. I whispered to the twins about what was going on in the film. I put one of them on my lap and the other twin sat on my husband’s lap, with our oldest daughter in between us. Everything was going smoothly until Mia announced she had to go potty! Of course, she used the bathroom before we left the house, but about 30 minutes into the film, she had to go again. It’s okay, I told my husband, I’ll take her. Of course, the bathroom was way down the hall in the multiplex, nowhere near our theater, and someone was in the family bathroom so we had to wait. Once we were back in the theater, I began trying to figure out what in the world was going on in the movie! It’s okay, though, because I remind myself that we would probably buy this film the moment it came out on Blu-Ray and then I would see it fifty billion times.
Finally, I figured out what happened with Merida (the main character) and her mom, though I’d missed the part where the three little brothers were turned into bears, as well (sorry if this is a spoiler if you haven’t seen the film yet). Just then, there was a moment where a mean bear showed up and tried to hurt Merida. Poor Laila jumped into my lap and began to cry! Never experiencing this before, I grabbed her and took her out of the theater to calm her down. She was crying and shaking and saying she didn’t like the mean bear and didn’t want to go back in to see the rest of the movie. I told her we wouldn’t go back in if she didn’t want to. I sat on a bench, in the hallway outside of the theater, with a shaking toddler on my lap. After a while, Laila seemed fine and wanted to go back in to be with her dad and sisters. We headed back in just in time to see the beginning of the credits.
Laila did not seem upset that she missed the movie at all. Mia did not seem to care that she missed some of it either when she went to the bathroom. It’s about the experience that they had of going somewhere and doing something new. My oldest daughter had been to the movies a year before with just me and she still talks about how great it was, even though I had to interrupt her movie-going experience because I had to go potty!
I’ve told several people this story since then, and some have told me that I overreacted and perhaps Laila would have been fine if I hadn’t grabbed her out of the theater. Of course, I wasn’t sure what to do, but my instincts told me to remove my little kid from a scary situation. Since she’s seen the film at home, she laughs at the scary bear. She actually remembered that she found it scary when she first saw it in the theater. I think there’s also something to be said about the fact that she had just turned 3 and once she saw the film at home she was nearly 3 ½.. Perhaps not a big difference to some, but at that age, it is. And she was perfectly fine that night with no nightmares. I don’t think I overreacted, I think I just reacted to a new experience, just like she did.
I’m sure there are a lot of parents, especially new ones, who are afraid to take their toddlers to the movies. I’m the type of mom who questions if my kids are old enough for a lot of things or if I will in someway damage or traumatize them! I felt guilty when Laila got scared! I felt perhaps that they were too young to go and I should have seen “Brave” before taking them to see it. But I’m sure now that Laila is fine and not everything I do is going to send them to therapy when they are older.
Since we bought Brave on BluRay, we’ve probably watched it 10,000 times. We actually watched it twice the day we bought it, at the request of all three girls.
Photo via Me