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Kids in a Movie Theater

This is not a post about how kids and babies should be banned from restaurants and airplanes. 

Frankly, those sorts of rants are insane, if I’m paying for airline tickets, I’ll bring a chimpanzee if I want to. 

This isn’t me, finally having self-sufficient teenagers, looking down my nose at exhausted parents just trying to get through the day with their small kids in public spaces. 

This is, however, about the guy who let his kids kick the shit out of our theater seats during Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire yesterday, but before we get to that… 

I am a firm believer that the best way to get your kids comfortable and well-behaved in public spaces is to take your kids to public spaces. And I want to be clear here, when I say “well-behaved,” I’m not insinuating that children are seen and not heard, I’m saying “well-behaved” because there’s nothing as stressful as being the parent of a kid who’s losing their shit or running you ragged outside of your home. We’ve all been there, and it’s exhausting. 

We restaurant-trained our kids at Texas Roadhouse. It’s awesome because it’s busy, loud, and the peanuts and rolls on the table make for perfect busy work for little hands. When it got to the point where our kids could stay seated for a whole meal and focus, we moved on to smaller, local restaurants, and eventually fancy things like sushi.

As an aside, this turned out to be a financially bad decision, because kids have no concept of money and they will double fist tuna rolls until you can’t pay your mortgage. In hindsight, keep them uncultured and chicken-finger affordable for as long as you can.  

Our kids also spent a huge chunk of their childhoods in a movie theater. My husband worked nights, I was overwhelmed entertaining and keeping three small kids quiet while he slept, and I loved movies. Bringing them to the theater was a great way to have 2-3 hours of captivating entertainment (plus yummy snacks), and it gave me a little bit of a break while corralling them solo. 

Not only did this go on to produce three insanely cool teenagers who can quote literally any movie, but it also taught them early how to behave in a dark, quiet space. How?

We hit up less busy weekday matinee showings, we had routines with specific snacks and behaviors to get those snacks (staying seated, not talking after the trailers finish, etc.), and we always sat in the same seats in the same row. 

These seats.

Which brings me to the root of today’s post. 

These seats are the best seats in our whole entire movie theater, especially if you have wiggly kids whose feet don’t touch the ground, and extra especially if you’re an adult who doesn’t like to feel claustrophobic and/or get grumpy when people are too close to you.

This row is the first row of elevated seats, with a metal bar in front, perfect for propping up your feet without bugging anyone around you. It might look like there’s a row of people in front of you, but no, those seats are actually on the floor, a good distance ahead of you, on the other side of the railing.

We always sit here, and now, in the age of reserve-your-seats-before-you-arrive requirements, snagging them is easy, and if they aren’t available, we find a different showing. We’re picky and high maintenance, we ain’t sorry.

Yesterday the kids and I saw the latest Ghostbusters movie, and it was nostalgic and campy and just plain fantastic fun. 

But what wasn’t fantastic fun were the kids seated directly behind us, kicking my and Jude’s seat the entire movie, visibly jarring our heads forward, with zero intervention. The whole movie. The last 20 minutes, they kids fought between themselves over candy, it was a lot to block out behind our heads. Even as we both turned around, often shocked, flashing faces of concern to the man sitting with them, nothing was done, not even a whisper, and trust me, I listened for one. I internally begged for one. 

Here’s the thing. Kids are gonna kid. They’re wiggly by design. They’re going to kick and move and jostle about because their bodies are live wires and their brains are lit fireworks. As parents, we have the less than fun job of making sure that those moments don’t come at the comfort and expense of the people around us. 

Because that’s the thing, once my kids start running around the restaurant, or vibrating out of their movie seats, or the chimp on the airplane juggles poop into the neighboring seat, it’s my job to step in and mitigate the damage, even when doing so sucks, and let me tell ya, it always sucks. It’s not fun to leave early. It’s not fun to whisper yell in a Target or miss the ending of a film I paid to see, and I’m endlessly thankful for every server who’s kindly pivoted a meal into a to-go box before it’s even hit the table. Sometimes you can correct course, sometimes you gotta go home, that’s the gamble with small humans. 

I didn’t want the kids removed, especially since I am a firm believer that the more Ghostbusters fans we have in the world, the better world it will be, but maybe just pretend you’re trying to intervene. Whisper a quick, “be careful,” or “ope watch your feet.” I am as understanding as I am non-confrontational, but at the end of the day, I also paid for those seats, and splurged on the large popcorn and special edition Slimer cups, and if I have to parent kids (or parents) who aren’t mine, it’s going to ruin my whole day. 

So, fellow movie dad, I’m sharing the secret of the best seats in the house with you, even though I am potentially making it that much harder to find them available on our next trip, because little legs are hard to legislate, and a foot railing with no neighbors makes theater seating and fidgeting so much easier to manage, or in your case, not manage, whatevs. 

The only thing that should have me shifting in my seat at a Ghostbusters movie is Dr. Peter Venkman, if you catch my drift. Heyyo!



Friday 29th of March 2024

I recently took my kids to see Aladdin on Broadway in Indiana. I was nervous about how they would be because they like to talk during movies. They were quiet and well behaved the whole show. The older kids behind me were kicking my chair and talking the whole time. The parents did nothing. After intermission, we moved to the empty row in front of us and that was much better!


Wednesday 27th of March 2024

Fantastic points!

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