Editorial: Its ok to parent, just not in public.

Creative Commons photo by JWhipkey

Creative Commons photo by JWhipkey

Last night I went to see “Where the Wild Things Are” at the Scotiabank Theatre on Burrard Street in Downtown Vancouver.  During a pause between scenes, you could hear the tittering of a baby somewhere in the back of the theatre.  The kid had been making noise the entire movie but it didn’t even cross my mind until I heard some male voice: “Clearly your child is not enjoying the movie.”

Laughter followed, and some agreement from other folks.  A few seconds later, a young female voice from down below:

“Could you be more considerate?  We all paid 12 dollars to get in here, and we’d like to enjoy it.”

I was absolutely shocked.  While trying to figure out what I could yell out in defense of the  ‘inconsiderate’ child, a young mother carrying a baby and leading a little girl walked down the stairs and out of the theatre.  Her head was held high, even as her daughter looked up to her questioning why they were leaving.

“Are you proud now?” A third voice asked, but it was difficult to tell who, exactly, was being chastised.

The whole situation was extremely awkward.  I could not believe that some people despise children so much that they cannot stand to hear them in public.  It is not that the child was crying.  It had started getting loud earlier on in the movie and the woman had taken it out of the theatre and had only come back in when it had quieted down.

So my question was this:  Who was in the wrong?  The woman for taking her child out to a movie, even though she knew she could not control its volume?  Or was the man to blame, for expecting absolute silence when in a large room with strangers?

Are these the moments where social norms are created and enforced?  Was that a deciding moment in history, when it became uncouth to bring children out to a children’s movie?

It is clear to me that for all its talk, Vancouver is NOT a child-friendly city.  That was the equivalent of a gay-bash to families.

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2 Responses to “Editorial: Its ok to parent, just not in public.”

  1. Vanessa said:

    Oct 26, 09 at 2:40 pm

    A similar, but potentially more serious story, took place in Victoria earlier this month, when a mother and her crying toddler were asked to leave a public bus.
    http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Crying+toddler+kicked+Victoria/2037405/story.html
    The story attracted a lot of public attention, and according to the newspaper, most reader comments supported the driver’s decision, apparently believing that families with young children do not have the right to a place on public transit:
    http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Story+toddler+kicked+Victoria+being+noisy+fuels+record+reaction/2046074/story.html
    These kinds of situations really worry me in the context of densifying cities – we all need to live close together, to share public transit, public space, and privatized gathering places like movie theatres. This includes patience, understanding and respect towards children and elders. I would agree with your assessment that this is not currently a child-friendly city or society.

  2. M said:

    Oct 31, 09 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t really like kids that much, but Where the Wild Things Are is based on a children’s book, so you should expect to find children in the theatre. Knowing this you should have every expectation that there might be a fussy kid in the audience.

    I went to see a late showing of Up in order to avoid children, but I wasn’t surprised that there were some there, and it didn’t really bother me to have them there… at a kids movie.

    The most annoying thing about this story is how bold those people were in the dark of a theatre. Would they have been so bold if they had to face the mother?