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

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the HIBS100, Foodies100 and Tots100 - an online community of more than 15,000 UK bloggers. She is also a busy single Mum to Flea, the world's coolest eight year old.

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48 Comments

  1. Fee Horne says

    OMG Sally. You have just taken the inside of my head and blogged it. Every single word is true. I am with you 100%. People who do not know how to behave with consideration for others shouldn’t be there. I would have seen red with the phonecall thing and probably complained to the manager (not that they can do anything but that’s the grown-up way?) We didn’t take the twins to the cinema until they were 41/2 for this very reason and then only after we’d wrung them out totally so we didn’t disturb people with constant wee-breaks. It’s the rudeness I hate – the implication that other people aren’t as important as your conversation, or your phonecall or your constant need to slurp and eat sweets.
    However, I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s not just children – pensioners can be just as bad. And loud!
    Grrrrrrrr!!

    • says

      Exactly. If I’d taken my child to the cinema and she’d started crying, I’d have taken her outside, as I would in a restaurant. What’s WRONG with people?

  2. Dan Thornton says

    Agreed. And it’s about effort really – I expect to have disruption if I go to watch a film in a room full of children, but I don’t mind it if parents are trying to be considerate.

    But if they’re just being rude and annoying without consideration I lose all sympathy…

    • says

      Yes, I don’t mind the odd bit of noise from kids (although I think they should broadly be expected to be quiet) but from the parents? Unacceptable.

  3. says

    I took Jackson for the 1st time a few weeks ago to watch turbo and I was worried that he’d not sit still but his behaviour was impeccable unfortunately I can’t say that for the teens who had brought their younger siblings and were encouraging them to run around in the aisles and in front of the screen. I’m glad it’s not just me that’s annoyed by bad manners in public
    Tammy knowles-smith (meandthetinythree) recently posted..Terror at 70 miles per hour! Updated to include photosMy Profile

  4. says

    I do not mind the little voices of tiny children when we go to see a child’s film, but I do expect their parents to set a precedence for their child by whispering. I personally didn’t take my kids to the cinema until they were 4/5 and old enough to understand the whole sit still and be quiet thing.
    Sonya Cisco recently posted..What I Learnt At BlogfestMy Profile

  5. Nikki says

    Got to LOVE a full on Monday rant to start the week and good on you! Feel better for it? :-)

    For the record I’d have said the same to the guy and frequently dish out death stares to badly behaving kids/parents. My most recent shout was at two 11 yr (ish) old girls on the Zufari ride at Chessington who’d push in, queue jumped and spent the start of the ride shouting at the animals and giggling – couldn’t help it, I let rip and told them it was ruining our experience and “for gods sake just grow up” because after all, if their parents (who weren’t present) don’t teach them how to behave, who will?

  6. says

    I have some friends whose children are perfectly behaved in the cinema. They however are not. They have the same opinion as the man you mentioned. ‘We need to be here watching a kids film and we don’t want to be so we will talk and shriek and swear and make outrageous sounds throughout.’ I went once with them and thought maybe I was drunk and imagining it. (I wasn’t on either count). I went again and vowed there and then to NEVER go to the movies with them again. As they are friends I feel I ought to say something to them but just don’t know how to broach the subject…. ‘Er, guys, when you are in a cinema, could you just shut the fuck up?’
    Melissa recently posted..Move over screens! I have chalk and a stone and I’m not afraid to use them.My Profile

    • says

      I can’t bear when parents spend the entire movie surfing Facebook. The light is SO distracting to other guests, not to mention the example it sets your child. Grrr.

  7. says

    I truly hate going to the cinema these days – the Cineworld in my local town, anyway – as every single film seems to be like this; full of chatters, texters, teens and annoying kids. I have basically taken my film-watching elsewhere as we have a little indie cinema, which has a rather nice cafe bar attached and a much smaller screen. OK, so they can only show one film at a time, and sometimes you have to wait for months after things come out to see them (I won’t be seeing Rush until the end of the month) but it’s worth it. Crazily, the ticket prices are a little less than the mainstream ones, and you can take your coffee in, as well.
    (Or a glass of wine, if you were that way inclined).
    char recently posted..Bright light city..My Profile

  8. says

    Well said – mine are trained to sit very very still when we go out to things like this because I will not be That Parent with the child that ruins it for everyone else…

    It’s hard though to hold the line when other parents are letting their child rampage – we go with ‘darling some people don’t know how to behave, we don’t all drop to the lowest common denominator…’ and to sprint away at the end!
    Muddling Along recently posted..The one parenting thing I have done rightMy Profile

    • says

      Exactly. We didn’t go until Flea was old enough to understand the rules – sit still, whisper if you need to, and don’t get in people’s way. It’s not rocket science!

  9. says

    I went to see Gravity last night and the opening shot is a beautiful panorama of the Earth as seen from space. With toes. Yes, some self-entitled arsehole in the seat in front actually had her feet up on the seat in front of her, so her toes were poking into my view of the screen. It gave me THE RAGE. I then had to clench my buttocks so I was sitting up slightly higher and could see past the offending feet. Mind you, when I had very tall spiky hair in the 1980s I did regularly get asked to move my hair so people could see Blue Velvet or whatever so maybe this is just life getting even.
    Joanne Mallon recently posted..A trip to Titanic TownMy Profile

  10. says

    It has to be said that this is not just true of kid’s films. Why, the last time I went to the pictures in 2007 (‘kay I made that bit up because I’m sounding like an old lady) two people talked through the entire movie which made me wonder why they had paid the exorbitant price of two Deluxe seats when they clearly had no idea of the plot. On screen or in real life.
    domestic goddesque recently posted..Apple and Date Streusel MuffinsMy Profile

  11. says

    I get RAGE with people who are too noisy in films, and although I’m not usually an outspoken person I have been known to complain loudly in the middle of a movie if others are disturbing it for me.

    That said, I think one needs to be a little more lenient with kids films. I expect a little bit of talking, and a bit of getting up and moving around in a kids movie, but I think the key is, as Sonya says above, that the parents set an example and try to minimise disruption. I’m much more forgiving of those who are TRYING than those who are just being inconsiderate.

    It does sound like the people in this case were not making any effort at all though, so they have no sympathies from me.
    Ruth (geekmummy) recently posted..First step to a Big Boy BedMy Profile

    • says

      Of course, you can’t expect silence from a kids’ movie (although my child knows to be as good as) but running around is unacceptable in my book. If Flea had done that, we’d have gone outside until she was through running. But I was a very strict Mummy in Flea’s toddler days! Regardless, though, the kids are never going to get any better if the parents can’t at least set an example!

  12. Lora W. says

    People aren’t any better at regular movies (I almost said Adult movies, but that’s a whole different genre). During “12 Years a Slave,” I had to not only endure the gut-wrenching material on the screen but the commentary the woman behind me added through out the entire 2 hour movie. Near the end she started to choke on her popcorn and I decided I wasn’t going to save her, if it came to that. No such luck. Anyway, I waited in the side aisle after the movie to tell her how disruptive she was, and she had the nerve to tell me it wasn’t her, it was the lady behind her. Seriously??

  13. says

    Can’t stand bad manners, full stop. What kind of example are these numpties setting for their kids? No wonder we have generation after generation going do-lally, unable to behave in a public place with decorum and self-control.

    Unfortunately, I can’t go to the cinema anymore as I was re-diagnosed four years ago with photo-sensitive epilepsy; triggered by strobe, flashing and complicated frequencies used on cinema screens. Suffice to say, we have a rather large collection of DVDs.

    CJ x
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  14. says

    Same happened to me at Romeo and Juliet last month. Three teenagers giggled, threw popcorn, kicked my seat and chatted all through it while their parents looked on. My death stares didn’t work so I finally spke out and spent the rest of the film feeling their eyes boring into my neck. Was disconcerted by how much I wanted to punch them.
    Middle-Aged Matron recently posted..Middle-Class StressMy Profile

  15. JP says

    Agree totally with the blog post.
    We had the inverse experience (some years ago now) at the first Johnny English movie. We’d paid extra for a screening in the licensed ‘de luxe’ theatre, which was supposedly for grown ups only, and were slightly irked that a couple had brought their young child in, who wasn’t really quiet enough or still enough not to irritate – although they were clearly very proud of their progeny, and discussed (almost) sotto voce the golden one’s achievements all through the trailers, and beyond.
    However, justice was served in the graveyard scene where a character asks “He hasn’t urinated over anybody has he?”. A small, clear voice piped up, audible to the whole theatre “Mummy – what’s ‘urinate’?” I’m sure Rowan Atkinson would not be too upset to learn it got one of the biggest laughs of the evening – and Mummy and Daddy were oddly less vocal for the rest of the film.

  16. Bruce says

    I couldn’t agree more. I love your blog post. However one thing I would say is that one can always go and mention the disruption to cinema staff. I know we British aren’t good at that sort of thing, but there are limits. And noisy/disruptive people can be ejected.

  17. says

    This is why cinemas have kids screenings. I expect when I pay £1.75 for us to get in that it might be a bit loud/disruptive/commentaried but that’s why I go – the kids enjoy it, it’s full of other kids also being a bit loud or boisterous, and I don’t really expect to see much of the film myself. I’d never take them to a full priced normal screening until I know they’re old enough to sit through the whole film and enjoy it in an appropriate way!
    Mummygadgetgeek recently posted..No tantrums, thankyou…My Profile

  18. says

    Uh oh. You wouldn’t have liked us. Mads and I’s first cinema trip to see Ice Age 3, which I had been looking forward to for ages as it was just the two of us, started with her seeing a ‘scary’ advert and screaming the place down. I took her out, she calmed down, I took her back in just as there was a ‘scary’ part of the film and she proceeded to shout ‘Noooooooo I want to go home’. I had to take her in the end. Never again.
    But well said. Here here!
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  19. says

    ROFL at “hope he doesn’t stab me.”
    You would get on very well with Actually Daddy. I cringe as soon as I hear someone speak in a cinema because I know what’s coming. He once told a family to control their child, and was met with the retort that she had cerebral palsy. And he had a comeback. I just huddled down in my seat.
    That said, rattle a sweet wrapper near me and it’ll be your last sweet for an hour or two!
    Actually Mummy… recently posted..Renewing our wedding vows – my promise to youMy Profile

  20. Slummy single mummy says

    I had a similar thing this week when a dad was letting their toddler run around a shopping centre getting in everyone’s way. I felt terrible for thinking it, but the place was so busy that it was only a matter of time before someone literally fell over the child.