“You are going to have to control your children.” Could there be a phrase that packs a bigger punch? I think it is right up there with, “You look like you put on weight,” and “That’s funny, your husband doesn’t act like he’s married.” No, I think a comment that cuts to the core of my parenting skills and the behavior of my children is more likely to leave a mark. This phrase was scowled at me by the grandmother of two sitting one row in front of me at a local production of Annie.
As I scrambled to defend myself, restrain my son from climbing over the seats and answer all of my daughter’s questions about the production (“Mommy, why Annie no have curly hair? etc.), the woman sitting next to me decided it was as good a time as any to add her two cents. “Yes, you really need to take your children out of here.” Thank you for kicking me while I was on my way down.
My whole family loves Annie. One snowbound day this winter I put the movie on for my kids and they were hooked. In all honesty, the subject matter was not really age appropriate (how to explain Mrs. Hannigan, oiy), but the music is so great and before long I had the soundtrack on my IPod and we could have auditioned for any role in the cast. So when tickets went on sale for the show at the Count Basie Theater, I bought tickets for my whole family: My mom, sisters, nephews, nieces and best friend. We were all so excited.
So where did I go wrong? For starters, I guess a three hour production in a very traditional theater is a lot to ask of a three year old. Also, I never really reviewed or practiced theater etiquette with the kids. I thought that everyone at Annie would be as excited as I was and treat the show like the sing-a-long I wanted it to be. So I suppose if I were to point fingers at who started the bad behavior it was me. As soon as that little orphan started belting out “Maybe, Baby,” my daughter and I were holding hands and singing in a loud whisper. I was so wrapped up in experiencing the play with the kids that I was oblivious to the people around me, until I was being asked to leave. Now I can’t stop thinking about them.
Weeks later, I still find myself analyzing every perspective of the situation. Were my kids really out of control or was I just seated near people who took this production a little too seriously? As a new mother, a mother of twins at that, I took a “whatever it takes,” triage approach to parenting. This kind of strategy was excusable for two tiny twins; not so much for toddlers. Now that everything they do is no longer cute, I have a difficult time prioritizing scolding and smiling. I should have my act together by now, right? Being caught up in the moment can sometimes be romantic but this time it bordered on rude. Perhaps I need to spend less time loving being a parent and do some hard core parenting.
I scrambled out of the theater holding my son and my dignity by the armpits and walked home with my head held very low. My other family members stayed behind and finished the show. I could tell by the look on my one sister’s face when she came to my house afterwards that she did not let the matter drop with my departure. She assured me there was no foul language used, but that she got her point across. I pray every day that I do not run into that grandmother and the two-cents lady any time soon.
I am still trying to learn from this experience, but for now I can come away with one thing. When my children are a little older, and perhaps a little more mature, I will remember to be kind to the over-enthusiastic parent of toddler twins who may sit near me in the theater. In the meantime, I will stick out my chin, and grin, and do some parenting.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Amy Griffiths, a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit given to Red Bank Patch.