A guest post from mom J.W. Curtis:
Let me first admit that I made a parenting judgment yesterday, and it came back to bite me.
I saw Beauty and the Beast with my youngest daughter (10) and her friend. Who doesn’t love a movie with a Free-Range leading character? Parenting themes about judging others on appearances were all around us…including my own about the other parents at the theater.
We caught the early matinee on the last day of school break and it was crowded. Long lines at the ticket counter (why don’t I ever order ahead online?) and a packed theater. While waiting to get in, we stood near twin toddlers dressed in adorable Belle dresses while their mom toted the tiniest sleeping infant I’ve ever seen in a carrier.
I mumbled to my kids that that itty-bitty baby would probably sit next to us and cry during the movie and wondered why she’d attempt to bring so many little ones…but then I remembered back to when I juggled my three at that age who also loved Belle, and I put my pointy finger back in my pocket.
Stifling my inner Eeyore I concentrated on the good things ahead, which included eating smuggled Easter candy in darkness while watching a favorite story.
We found seats in the very back row. There was an aisle separating the two-seat side row from the long rows in the middle. I sat as far from the young Belles and tiny infant as possible, and unpacked my chocolate contraband. I was set!
Or so I thought.
Two parents with their five school-aged children came in next. This is fine. No babies. Two parents to supervise. They couldn’t all sit together, so the parents sat on the side and put the children across the aisle in front of them, mom insisting loudly, “I need to be able to see you so you don’t choke, it’s dark in here!”
The family got the large bucket of popcorn (and went back for refills!), nuggets, candy, on and on with the potential airway obstructions. To be “safe,” the mom had the kids come back and forth to grab the food, only small handfuls she could supervise. The kids eventually gave up on their seats and simply laid down in the aisle, to be closer to mom and more importantly, the properly portioned snacks.
I sat dumbfounded. While Belle possessed strong enough will to free a Beast, these children weren’t trusted with a bucket of popcorn.
I still enjoyed the movie immensely. Emma Watson was extraordinary (especially if that was her actually singing). I exchanged sideways glances with my girls, who reminded me after that they never heard a peep out that tiny baby or those little Belles that I avoided sitting near.
Teaches me not to judge. Just like the Beast was not what he seemed, not all parents are what they appear. What counts for independence and decision making among our future Belle’s should not be, “Do you want Pepsi or Sprite?” And the most supervised of children can be the most disruptive of all. – Judy Curtis