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At the Movies (with your toddler)

This weekend, on the recommendation of another parent, we went for our first movie en famille. Our friend took his three boys (the youngest is four, the oldest 12) to see ‘The Artist’ and the four year old sat through the film and enjoyed it.

M just turned three. He’s never been inside a movie theatre. And since the day he spilled out of my womb, neither have I.

The Artist and its family-friendly rating seemed like a good place to try this introduction to the movies. We have had issues with the decibel levels at the Inox in Panjim (incredibly loud usually, despite complaints) but we reasoned that The Artist was a silent film, so how bad could it get?

Mr. R had already seen the movie last week, so he volunteered to take M out if he got fussy. That way, at least the MIL and I could watch a film in peace for once!

So off we went on Sunday evening, M excited by the outing and the chance to run around the Inox courtyard. Once inside, he tried to make sense of the auditorium, snuggling into the too-big seat, adjusting to the semi-darkness. “Too loud,” he said to me when the Vicco Vajradanti ad flashed across the screen in all its gleaming glory. He brightened up when the national anthem came on, his face showing his delighted surprise at his favourite song being screened in this public place. He sang the words loud and clear, with much happiness.

The movie began soon enough and M watched quietly. The dog, as predicted, made it a little more appealing. I don’t think he understood much of the rest. At some point, he began fussing. I want to go home, he whined. Cue Mr R to exit stage right (with M, of course). During the interval, I spotted the two of them still in the theatre at the bottom of the stairs. M seemed fine there, so post-interval, we (M & I) found a seat in a completely unoccupied row about four rows from the screen and watched the rest of the movie undisturbed by the audience. In our isolation, I held him close, whispering to him, explaining what was going on, feeling his heart thud loudly with every bang, boom or cymbal crash. He picked up on emotions quickly. “Why is that man angry?”, he asked as the hero threw spools of film all over the floor, his dog whimpering in a corner.

As the music washed over us in this black and white treat, my son grappled with the concept of a giant TV screen that was so huge and so close that it looked like the actors were within touching distance. Were they real? For him, probably so.

I won’t be taking him back to the cinema in a hurry. I feel he needs to be a little older to have the attention span to sit through a film. A kiddie’s film might be an option, though. There will be enough of a ruckus going on there so one more fussy child won’t matter.

Two days later, he’s still talking about the dog. And that angry man. Interesting what his take-home images were.

Any thoughts?

Image credit: Jaxxon on Flickr

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