An open letter to Parents…

Flea and I went to the cinema this week.

I love the cinema. I love having a space to be completely absorbed in a story, and forget about the outside world. One of my favourite things in the world is an empty cinema on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, and having the screen to myself.

But that doesn’t happen often when you’re seeing a children’s film.

This week, Flea and I saw Turbo, an animated piece about a plucky little snail that falls into an engine and comes out faster than a Formula One racing car (don’t over-think it, trust me).

We paid around £15 for two tickets at our local Odeon, and settled into our seats. Immediately behind us was a family – Mum, Dad, two young boys. Neither of the boys were in their seats, and the Dad was carrying on a full-volume conversation with his wife.

“Never mind,” I told myself. “It’s just the trailers.” 

Except it wasn’t just the trailers. The movie started and one boy began to cry. The mother comforted him – using her normal voice, mind you. After all, why lower your voice just because you’re in the cinema?

Child 2 was still out of his seat, and trying to squeeze through the gap between the end of the row where we were sitting and the wall.

Dad called Child 2 back and sat him on his knee. And proceeded to provide a running commentary on the entire movie. AT FULL VOLUME.

“Look at that!” was followed by, “Ha! Look out!” and “Did you see that?” 

Yes. Yes, annoying man. I’m sure your son saw it because the screen is TWENTY BLOODY FEET HIGH. He could hardly miss it, could he?

“Oh, that were scary, weren’t it?” he said at one point, simultaneously triggering two forms of uncontrollable rage in the back of my head. Bad manners AND poor grammar? It’s more than I can take, it really is.

Every time a character on screen said, “No!” the Dad said, “Oh, HELL NO!” to his son.

Every time something was sad there was a groan behind me as though the guy’s hernia had just ruptured. “Oooohhhhhhh…….” 

I felt like asking him if he was in need of medical assistance, but Flea had her hand on my arm. “Some people just don’t know how to behave at the cinema,” she whispered. It’s possible I might have muttered that to her once or twice over the years.

The final straw was when the Dad answered his phone, halfway through the movie and proceeded to have a conversation.

I went into full-on Embarrassing Mum mode. “Excuse me, but could you take your phone outside if you need to use it, so we can watch the film?” I said, giving the bloke my finest Death Stare.

“It’s just a kids’ film,” the bloke muttered at me.

“Exactly. And I want to teach MY child about consideration in public spaces,” I hissed, all the while thinking, “Bugger, hope he doesn’t stab me.” 

Fortunately he didn’t stab me.

Neither did the bunch of teenagers I tackled last month with a loud, “Yes, I know it’s VERY exciting to be here without your Mums and Dads, but we paid to listen to a film, not you.” 

Although I did ensure we ran out of the cinema first when the film ended, just in case.

I can’t help myself. I am driven to fits of rage by bad manners at the cinema. And just because it’s a kids’ film doesn’t mean it’s okay to talk, make phone calls, surf Facebook on your big, bright, shiny mobile phone, or generally inconvenience everyone else.

If your child isn’t capable of sitting through a 90 minute movie without repeatedly leaving their seat to run around, or if they’re young enough that they need constant interaction to maintain their interest, then there’s a special sort of movie made just with them in mind – they’re called HOME movies. If your child (or you) are incapable of sitting in a cinema and showing basic good manners to other customers, then why do you bother going?

Please, for the sake of the rest of us, just stay home.

Picture credit: Shutterstock

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