|from website: http://joeltalksmovies.bangordailynews.com|
This is not a movie review. Or at least it's not the review of the pictured movie, so much as a review of the experience we recently had seeing the movie...it'll make more sense once you read.
For my daughter Emma's 11th birthday we went to see Oz: The Great and Terrible. She had eight or so of her friends with her, and a couple mom-friends of Leslie's came to help. I brought Lily, but we had arranged it so that Lily wouldn't have to sit and wait through Emma's birthday party (which was held the hour before at the theater) and could instead go straight into the movie. We figured it would make it easier for her.
The theater was more crowded than I liked, and Emma picked the row (which was closer to the back), but we positioned Lily such that she wouldn't be kicking anyone in front of her, and her mom and I were flanking her.
She did pretty well. She was quiet, and enjoyed the theater, her eyes on the screen as the new movies were previewed. But she wouldn't sit in the chair. She's short, and probably the people behind her could see over her, but they were younger too, and so I started getting stressed a little bit when our attempts at getting her to sit were eliciting angry responses from her. The more we coaxed, the more worked up she got, getting louder with her "Nos" until finally, the man from the row in front of us turned around and angrily said, "You need to get her to quiet down."
And I went cold all over, and my heart started to race, and I vowed that whether or not I agreed with the sentiment, I would not meekly apologize for my daughter's outbursts (which were quiet understandable).
I've been in this position before. A woman complained about Lily's volume and I, embarrassed and wanting nothing more than to be polite, excused myself and moved to a less crowded area where Lily could be Lily...but I burned the whole time, my heart racing, and my mind imagining revenge scenarios and open letters to newspapers that would excoriate her for being such a callous bitch.
The truth is THIS time we were still in the previews...and so I fired back, "Why don't you pay attention to your business, and let us handle ours." All in all, I felt like that was about as subdued as I could muster without names or profanity. Leslie picked up Lily and carried her out and down the steps to the front of the theater where it was less crowded, but I was was still seething.
He said something else...I don't even remember what it was. "Why don't you shut up?" I think I replied. I sat there fuming a few more minutes, trying to calm myself down and master my emotions. In the row beside me and in front of me were eight 11 year-old girls there for my older daughter's birthday party. I was conscious of Emma, sitting there, seeing/hearing this all unfold. She wanted nothing more than to have Lily at the theater on her birthday. She was so excited to see her when we came in.
I felt my pulse pound like a threat of violence and I excused myself to take the "backpack" (glorified diaper bag) down to Lily and Leslie at the front of the theater. I walked behind the guy and his wife. I wanted to kick his chair, very nearly did...but stopped myself...that's all I needed on Emma's birthday, was to get in a fist fight in the theater and get escorted out by the police.
Instead I said, "You're a real piece of work."
"You used bad judgement bringing her here," he replied...of course he replied. Of course he was unrepentant. Why would he be sorry?
"You're an idiot," I said, by way of goodbye, internally applauding my ability to make a statement without injecting "fucking" into it and joined my wife.
The movie started but I couldn't concentrate on it. I was so...fucking...mad. And the worst part of it was that on some level, I knew we should have put Lily in a place where she wouldn't be disruptive to other theater goers if she misbehaved, which put me in agreement (to an extent) with the jackass barking at us from one row up. We had done a pretty good job of planning our way into success for Lily...arrive late, seat ourselves protectively around her... And maybe that made it harder to get over.
The girls were way in the back of the theater, left in the care of some friends who we hadn't even asked to take over (but they got it...it was one of those unspoken things).
We'd have gotten there, eventually. We'd have realized that Lily wasn't going to stand for sitting (heh...stand for...you get it) and eventually moved her somewhere she could roam a little between seats. We'd done that with past theater visits and with trips to see the Pirates play. It was just galling to have that fat sack of shit...erm...gentleman (still a little mad) in front of us call us out. It made me want to apologize; "play the autism card" by way of helping him understand that we were working on it, while simultaneously making me want to punch him in his fat face and tell him to shut up and sit down and if he had a problem he could move...and that conflicted feeling made me mad at myself AND him.
Lily was very well behaved at the front of the theater. She stood for the entire movie, but nobody was behind or in front of her, so nobody raised a stink. She chatted happily, but nobody heard her over the din of the theater. She was mesmerized by the colors and movement and not frightened or overwhelmed by the volume that the theater speakers reached then surpassed.
As the movie was approached its end, I took Lily up the steps and out to the car so that Leslie could pay the theater for the party, and collect the girls while I drove to pick up the pizzas for the girls to eat at our house. I felt a little like a coward not confronting the guy again, but at the same time understood that no good end lay in that direction. Leslie told me she was going to chat with him and I shrugged it off. I secretly hoped that she'd shame him into an apology.
The result however was more what I expected. She explained the situation to the man after I'd gone. Explained that we were pushing Lily and challenging her and that we didn't want to assume she couldn't handle something until she'd been given the chance for herself. He remained unimpressed, convinced perhaps more than ever that our judgement was flawed, that we should never have put her in place where we knew she could potentially impact the enjoyment of others. Leslie told me his wife remained silent throughout.
Leslie told him he had to live with himself and that he wasn't a good person. Doubtless her vocabulary was similarly censored by proximity to so many impressionable young ears. Ultimately she confessed she was left unsatisfied.
When we got home, the girls all played and ate pizza, and it was discussed briefly that they just thought he was a "bad man". A "bad, mean man". I wish sometimes that I was able to look at things that way again. I wish that I could see things in the simple black & white way that kids do. They're still in the "Kansas" part of the movies of their lives, but I've moved on to Oz, in full color and not quite what it seems. I don't know...I want to go back to Kansas again. I hate having to side with some fat jackass (no...his girth has nothing to do with whether he's right or wrong...but I'm still pissed, and it's my blog) "against" my own daughter.
There's no place like home...there's no place like home.