People love giving warnings. We have been warned, since becoming parents, that almost everything we think might be fun is a bad idea with a baby or toddler. We were warned not to take him to a convention in Atlanta. We were warned against flying with him at three months. We were warned against taking a cross-country road trip with him at 11 months... and bringing the 70-pound dog as well. We've had two cents upon two cents piled up in our field of view that all say, "It won't end well." And you know what? It always has, in fact, ended well. Maybe Harrison is just a trooper. Maybe our sheer determination to prove people wrong has allowed us to put up with things others couldn't. Maybe we're braver (or dumber) than other parents out there. Whatever the case may be, as I mentioned in this article a few weeks back, Ryan and I have always loved going to the movies, so we wanted to share that experience with our son as soon as possible. This is how it went.
Harrison is 18 months old now, nearly 19 months. He has the attention span for a few shows on TV, but gets antsy at commercials and goes off to entertain himself instead. Whenever the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came on, however, he was riveted. He'd watch it and then happily watch it again (since his father wanted to watch it over and over again anyway). This planted the idea in my head that maybe we could take him on a weekday morning as an experiment. By this time, Ryan had seen it four times and I had seen it twice, so we weren't concerned with missing out on the movie ourselves. In the case that other patrons were present, Ryan volunteered to remove Harrison from the theater should he get too antsy or upset, and allow me to complete my third viewing, which was very sweet of him. We brought a bottle of milk, a sippy cup of water, a snack cup of cheddar penguins, a bag of teething cookies, and even a lollipop as a last resort super-bribe. We dressed him light layers, topped off with the Darth Vader hoodie my brother got him for Christmas, and took our son into the movie theater in Rosemont at noon on a Monday.
There were a lot of trailers. I would've maybe stayed out of the theater until the trailers were mostly finished had I realized there were so many, but two of them were for animated films, so he was okay about that. I introduced him to my bag of popcorn and he was the happiest kid on the planet. He ate popcorn like a fiend! Loved it! Then, suddenly, the LucasFilm title appeared and Ryan and I caught our breath, watching our boy. The music began, Star Wars appeared onscreen, and Harrison did a little dance. I teared up immediately. Ryan started to read the opening crawl aloud to him, when his own voice cracked and he teared up a bit, too. We got Harrison settled in his seat, still happily eating popcorn, and the movie began. Our geeky parent hearts sang.
There was a point when Harrison was particularly excited about the droid, BB8, onscreen. He was watching him and reacting to his noises, when suddenly the scene cut away to the bad guys. Harrison turned to me and did the sign language sign for "more" which I thought was about popcorn, but realized it was about BB8! More BB8!
After awhile, he got a little fussy, so he had his milk, then alternated sitting and standing in front of his seat, which is how he watches things at home. He started getting a little active, so I showed him the buckles on his diaper bag and he happily sat in his seat again, playing with those while half-watching the movie. I noticed he was sitting further back at one point, then sliding down the seat a bit, his eyes heavy. I scooped him up and he resisted a little (my big pregnant belly isn't very comfortable for him as of late), so Ryan slid over and took him into his arms, his legs still on me. Harrison very quickly fell asleep just as Harrison Ford appeared onscreen for the first time in the film. Ryan and I watched the rest of Star Wars while our son slept peacefully on our laps. He woke up, I kid you not, as the end credits began.
It just goes to show, every kid is different. Maybe some kids wouldn't have handled the darkness or the sound well. Maybe they wouldn't have sat still for any length of time. Maybe they have no attention span for things on a screen yet. And that's fine. The parents of those kids know their kids. They know something like this wouldn't work for them. However, that doesn't mean they should tell other parents that it won't work. I think that's the great downfall of nay-sayers; they're telling you that what wouldn't work for their own kid won't work for yours either. Nobody knows your kid like you do. Trust yourself. Some of our greatest adventures have flown in the face of nay-sayers, and I hope we can keep proving people wrong.
Until next time... "Well, you tell them that Han Solo just stole back the Millennium Falcon, for good!"
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Tags: 18 month old to movies, 18 months, adventure, adventure parents, baby in the movie theater, BB8, every kid is different, family, family movie date, geek dad, geek mom, geek parents, geeky parenting, judgy moms, movie theater, nay sayers, parent warnings, parenting win, passing judgment, proving them wrong, sincere mommy, star wars, SWTFA, Tara Schile, the force awakens, their two cents, toddler at the movies, toddler to a movie, unsolicited advice