Sunday, October 12, 2008

Let's Go to the Movies!

Back when I was merely in charge of five younglings, the Two Towers came out.
Man we wanted to see that movie. However, we were in between babysitters.

Sheer numbers required that we use adults at that point, I mean, who in this day and age had five kids? Most sentient beings over the age of 18 however, wanted extraordinary funding in return for doing what I did for free daily. Those who agreed, we used until they wizened up. I don’t think my kids were that difficult. She really wanted to go back home to Nepal. That's what she said in the letter anyway. The next babysitter who had lived in the town home across from us, suddenly enrolled in the community college and got very very busy. Then her phone stopped working altogether.

Our third sitter opted for a slightly less dramatic exit; she got married and had her own kids before moving out of the country. Having no grandparents within less than a six hour drive, we were going to miss out on Peter Jackson's second installment until it came out on DVD. Then we hit upon what seemed to us, a brilliant idea.

The late show. We'd wait an excruciating four weeks, when the crowds had significantly ebbed, and then, with the youngest dressed in sweatpants that could double as pj's, we'd take them to the movies and they'd fall asleep while we watched. Genius. Pure Genius!

The day arrived and willingly, we forked over what would have been the equivalent of a baby sitter's fee in kids’ tickets, and even more for the obligatory popcorn.

We were savvy enough to make sure no one got caffeine. We were punting on the parent screening of suitable material with respect to imaginary monsters, violence, scope, but we weren't so stupid as to pump them up with sugary guaranteed keep up until two o'clock am juice.

The last showing for the Two Towers was at 10:10. All of our ducklings tended to drop off at 8:30. They wouldn't last past the previews we told ourselves. Those couples who had managed to get a date night out sans kids looked slightly askance in our direction. We smiled weakly back and hoped our kids would be snoring silently soon.

Delusional. If NFL color commentators were able to screen our actions, they'd have explained to the audience what a mistake it was to start this project so late in the evening. The better play would have been to go to the movie at 8:30 proper, so natural fatigue would set in and do the job. Telling the kids they were going to a show and then postponing it past bed time by a good hour and half, we had missed the open window between natural sleepiness and getting that third wind.

The kids were actually reasonably good, only getting scared when say, there were lots of orcs in the scenes. One climbed into my lap and covered her eyes. Another made good use of his Dad's arm. The other three sat immersed in the film, including one I would have preferred to have seen a bit scared. I caught the eye of a woman sitting with her husband; she gave me a tsking look that said, "You should have known..." I resisted the urge to offer her the opportunity to babysit.

Since then, we haven't tried that plan. In fact, we've only made it to a few movies since the trilogy ended. One of them was Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I remember it vividly because sitting next to me was a family including four small kids and I spent much of the whole movie mentally wondering what possessed this mother to bring her young children on a Friday night to see a PG-13 movie and at the same time forcing myself not to give the tsking look. The woman must have sensed my struggle as she stopped to mention, "My babysitter quit on me and moved to France."

Now that I have teenagers, it's possible for us to return to the movies with a clean conscience, but I get text messages from my oldest two. "M& P had a fight. No one was hurt. When r u coming home?"

Paying my son for eating pizza with his friends and watching his siblings who had already gone to bed felt vaguely like extortion but my husband viewed it as an investment. "We're guaranteed if we keep having him babysit, he'll leave home."

He might even go abroad.
"Hey honey, what's showing this weekend?"


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

First thing I thought when you mentioned the 10:10 showing - No! It's too late!

Nice try, though.

And I haven't forgotten you - I'll give you a call tomorrow to see what your dinner situation looks like. Or e-mail me.

MightyMom said...

OK, my first reaction is this:

you planned the RIGHT movie showing....but the WRONG strategy. Here's mine. Call your very best friend and plead "I'll have EVERYONE fed and in bed BEFORE I NEED TO LEAVE to make the 2:30am showing of this movie we're hoping to keep ourselves awake through!....all you have to do is sleep on the couch and count heads should the house catch on fire"......


That's about the only way I get anyone to watch my group. 3, not 5...but all between 19months and 43 months...and all with special needs.

That is when Mimi isn't available....thank God for Mimi.

but mostly we use Netflix.

Helen said...

Thank you for your story. I will try to refrain from judging parents who bring their kids to movies I think are inappropriate from now on. Everyone needs a night out once in a while :)

Farmhouse Kitchen Sinks said...

well people love movies

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!