To Be Or Not To Be…A Good Parent

by admin on June 3, 2010

I work as a bartender at a nationally known, professional repertory theatre. We do not allow children under the age of six into the performances, a fact that is stated both on the tickets and on a sign at the door. In practice, however, we rarely see children under seven or eight attending shows. One day I was working behind the bar when I noticed a little boy walking across the lobby, holding hands with his parents. He looked no more than five or six, and I remember hoping that he was a lot older than he looked. Nope. During preshow, he refused to sit down, talked loudly and continuously and tried to climb over the backs of the seats. When the houselights dimmed to half and the pre-show announcement (“Please turn off your cell phones” etc.) began, he began shrieking and crying. The house manager, wisely deducing that this was going to be a problem, went to talk to the parents, who tell him that the boy is A) afraid of the dark, and B) sensitive to loud noises. And what play was this, you ask? Hamlet. A very long, complex, angst-ridden play containing nighttime scenes, a ghost, murder, a whole lot of yelling, and, in this particular production, gunshots and sirens (these last two, by the way, are warned of in the promotional material).

The house manager persuaded the parents that the boy was perhaps better off not watching the show, and the father spent the entire 3 hours of the play walking the boy around the lobby. From watching them, I think the little boy might have been developmentally delayed, since he behaved more like a toddler than a kindergartner. I felt sorry for the poor kid, since even if he was delayed, his parents were obviously a lot slower.     0528-10

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom June 3, 2010 at 5:50 am

Parents with a young child – particularly a developmentally delayed one – are often put in the difficult position of being stuck at home all the time. Babysitters may be hard to find; family may not live nearby. So, desperate for a night out, they take the child with them. Understandable, but not fair to the child, relaxing for the parents, or a whole lot of fun for others. Perhaps a Disney movie, the zoo or park, a family restaurant – any parent basically has to accept that, for a few years anyway, their social life is on hold.

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SammyHammy June 3, 2010 at 6:56 am

As unfortunate as it is that they (may) have a child with developmental delays, it is still incredibly rude to inflict that child on unsuspecting patrons at an inappropriate event. If it is a choice of taking the child to the play or staying home, then the only choice is to stay home. I agree with the PP who suggested kid-oriented events. Much more appropriate, and certainly a lot more fun for the child.

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Bethama June 3, 2010 at 7:36 am

It’s even possible that he WAS just a toddler, but unusually tall for his age – I recall working at a convenience store and pondering the story behind a quiet, spacey seven-year-old whose mother had to lead him everywhere by the hand, only to learn that the child was actually only three. Of course, this wouldn’t exactly exonerate the parents.

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Xtina June 3, 2010 at 8:38 am

Clueless parents are probably my biggest pet peeve. Like “Mom” said, parents need to realize that with the child they bear comes a few-years cutoff of their freedom to go wherever, whenever. Some venues are simply not appropriate for children, and it is both unfair to the child and rude to other patrons/guests of the event when a parent decides that they need a night out, everyone else be da**ed. If they aren’t able to find a babysitter or afford one for child-UNfriendly events, then perhaps they need to re-think their plans, disappointing as that may be to them.

However, at least in this story, the parents in question did not argue with the staff, and removed the boy to the lobby. I have seen many, many instances of parents getting irate and demanding that their children be allowed to participate–creating a huge scene and setting an awful example for the child that rules and manners are unimportant when it comes to YOUR personal desires.

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Louise June 3, 2010 at 9:19 am

I feel bad for the poor kid. I doubt most 6-year-olds would enjoy “Hamlet,” developmentally delayed or not. I wish I knew how the parents justified taking him.

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mommaknowsbest June 3, 2010 at 9:34 am

Again, what is the etiquette question here? If children under 6 are not allowed, the parents should never have been let in the theater. period. If there was a faux pas made, it was on behalf of the management at the theater. They are the ones who should be held responsible for their inability to provide the appropriate experience for their customers. Alot of these stories have little to do with etiquette and a lot to do with bad business practices.

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TheOldSchool June 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

Why do you say the parents were developmentally delayed? Does this run in families?

Perhaps your theatre should do more suitable productions for the developmentally delayed. That way, everyone could enjoy the plays.

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Cady June 3, 2010 at 9:46 am

It doesn’t matter whether your child is developmentally delayed or perfectly normal; if you don’t have the time or money for a babysitter, you don’t have the time or money to go to an adult show. Having kids means making sacrifices, and if you can’t make those sacrifices, you shouldn’t have kids. I’m sure it gets old having to do only family-oriented things until your child is old enough to sit still and shut up for three hours, but that’s life. You can’t ask every single patron of a theater, who paid the same ticket price you did, to put up with your child because you want to see a show. They want to see it, too, without the “bonus” sound effects.

Unfortunately, I see this far too often in my part of the country. The dominant religion in my area encourages couples to marry young and start having lots of kids right away, and it seems that some of those couples just assume no one in town could possibly make a different life choice. Babies and toddlers have become such a common occurrence at late-showing action movies that I’ll shush them twice and then grab a manager to kick the family out of the show (which they will do, thank god, but I still miss 5 minutes of a movie I paid at least $10 to see). Now, if I decide to go see the new Pixar flick at 7:30, I’ll put up with kids jabbering, because it’s a kids’ movie. But if I go see “Legion” at 9, you really ought to save that ticket money until you can afford a sitter AND a movie, because you won’t be watching it if you bring your infant and your 2-year-old.

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Shayna June 3, 2010 at 10:12 am

I don’t really see any etiquette breaches here, except that the parents should never have been allowed into the theatre in the first place. However, what I don’t get are parents who attempt to take their child to things like this anyway. Really, what child wants to sit through a Shakespeare play? None that I know of. I just don’t understand those parents who forget that their lives are pretty much on hold for a few years until their child is older. If that’s the type of parent you want to be, then don’t have children. They require sacrifice. Selfishness has no place in the life of a parent.

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Ruth June 3, 2010 at 10:32 am

Yeah, taking a sensitive child to see Hamlet isn’t the brightest move. My parents could’ve told you that since my sister had a huge aversion to violence in film as a kid. She couldn’t distinguish it from real life. She also turned out to have very acute hearing (according to the audiologist), which meant that yelling hurt her too. So we didn’t watch movies with any sort of physical contact–or if they wanted to, they did it after she went to bed. Problem solved.

Fortunately for her, she got over all that and became a martial artist who listens to rock. :)

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yarngirl June 3, 2010 at 11:19 am

TheOldSchool- nobody said the parents were developmentally delayed, that was a joke on the OP’s part about the mental faculties of parents who would bring a young child who’s afraid of the dark to Hamlet.

But I’m confused by your comment- are you saying that it is the theatre’s responsibility to produce a show specifically suited to developmentally delayed children, just in case some parents want to bring a child to a venue that is not designed to accommodate them? And since these parents obviously weren’t trying to pick an appropriate play at all (I can’t think of anything less child friendly than Hamlet) you’re implying that whenever such parents decide to show up, there should be a kid show going. A theatre is not a movie house, they can’t have 12 movies going to suit all audiences. And I somehow doubt that “everyone” could enjoy such a play. Also I doubt how easily one could create such a performance, or how many parents would even think of or want to attend it with special needs children.

That’s like saying that five-star restaurants should have a ball pit and grilled cheese sandwiches, so everyone could enjoy going. No, that’s not how it works- if you want family friendly, you go to a family friendly place that specialized in family friendly entertainment. Some venues are just not meant for children. It’s the same reason I don’t go to McDonalds and demand the kids be quiet and they serve martinis. Not every place is for everyone.

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Vrinda June 3, 2010 at 11:44 am

Mommaknowsbest: Didn’t you read the entire letter? The writer said they told the parents to take the child out, and they did. How they can control whether or not someone brings their child to the theater? They can tell them to take the child out, but they can’t prevent them from coming in altogether. The parents committed the faux pas, not the theater.

TheOldSchool: Maybe the theater does put on some plays for the developmentally disabled, but the idioot parents chose to take their child to a show that was not for such people. An do you not understand sarcasm? The writer was not making a medical diagnosis of the parents. He was commenting that since the parents showed such poor judgement in bringing a child to a play that was inappropriate for someone his age, they may be worse off than the child in developmental problems.

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Jayne June 3, 2010 at 11:56 am

This is an etiquette issue, as it is all about rude, inconsiderate parents. Businesses, even those with strict rules on age or behavior, are often reluctant to enforce them, lest they be considered “anti-child”. And to some parents, anything that gets in their way of what they want when they want it is “anti-child”, regardless of the pain they inflict on anyone else. . Their offspring are so incredibly “special” that I guess they think the rules don’t apply to them. There is no excuse or justification – not lack of babysitters, not desperation for a night out, whatever. There are plenty of child-centric venues they could chose from.

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MamaWithManners June 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I whole heartedly agree that thpye parents should never have brought the child AND the establishment should not have allowed it. It seems unfair to blame the child, who had.no choice in the matter. I argree it is less an etiquette breach and more poor management. I do resent the generalization about parents I am reading in some of these comments. I have children but I also cringe when I get a sitter for an evening out only to have it ruined by someone else who brought a child to an inappropriate venue. I take my children out to family friendly restaurants and events occasionally and I expect appropriate behavior too. If I have plans to go to a play, movie or event and my sitter cancels, I stay home. While I too have encountered lousey parents, I am not alone in making appropriate choices for my family. Many, even most, families are considerate.

I chose to have children. I accept responsibility for them. Others chose not to have children for a.variety of reasons and I respect that. However, I would hope for some respect in return. Calling children ‘spawn’ is surely not something etiquette minded people view as acceptable. If that is how you chose to speak of other human beings then I do not wish to share a theater with you either!

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ThatGuy June 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Shayna, I can think of at least a few parents who would consider something like this appropriate. They’re the same parents who believe EVERYTHING the child does has to have some higher purpose behind it – every outing the child takes must be educational, every sport the child plays is a potential athletic scholarship. I could easily see parents like that thinking, “It’s Shakespeare – little Johnny will be exposed to the cultural arts well before his peers!” and not once stopping to consider just how little of the play the child will understand…

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M. June 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Jeanne, are you sure you didn’t post this story just to use that A+ puntastic title? ;)

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oonyaquorn June 3, 2010 at 4:10 pm

TheOldSchool is joking. I’ve read his comments on other blogs; he makes the same sorts of jokes.

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Casey June 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I’m glad they didn’t make a scene. Parents who are clueless about what is appropriate for their kids tend to be the type of parents who act entitled.

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Timpani June 3, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Or, the child may have had undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome (a form of autism) which means he could have been more than intelligent enough to enjoy Hamlet, but not in a theater setting where he would be over-stimulated with darkness, theater lights, loud noises etc.(hence the screaming). Just a thought on why the parents may have thought he would have enjoyed the play.

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Chunks June 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm

I attended a rather full screening of The Dark Knight when it opened in 2008. The screening started at 8.30pm and in the seats behind me was a mother with not one but three children under five. Two of them spent the first 15 minutes of the film running up and down the stairs and in and out of the cinema while the baby in arms screamed non-stop. People everywhere around me muttered and carried on, including the friends I went with, but no one said a word. Figuring someone had to do something I shouted out “Get a babysitter!” Lots of shockied gasps and a few titters but still no one with the cojones to speak up. At any rate, the woman stood up and left with her three unfortunate children. I was the only one who applauded. The rest of them would have sat there and then gone home and bitched about how their three-hour movie experience was ruined by an idiot who should never have been allowed to breed and a cinema full of people with no sense or guts. Pathetic.

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Katrina June 3, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Wow, my family has 5 kids between 1 and 4 years old. We no longer go to restaurants that are quiet or adult oriented. We go to many parks, and playgrounds. We used to go to fancy dinners to as a family Christmas present. We now go to Santa Breakfast. I think my child is wonderful. You don’t have to, nor are you required to put up with his 2 year old behavior. I think my niece and nephews are great, but not appropriate for many places. Parents please keep your kids away from things and places that are not appropriate.

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amy June 4, 2010 at 2:35 am

Some parents are just clueless……

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NKKingston June 4, 2010 at 3:31 am

My local cinema puts on a regular autistic friendly screening*, and parent-and-child screenings. It would be nice to see some theatres doing the same thing, actually. Parents could see the plays they want without worrying that little Johnny is eating his sweets too loudly for the person sat in front of them, and Mrs Miggins can see the play she wants without worrying about the child behind getting sticky wrappers in her hair! Everyone’s happy, and the actors get paid for doing two shows instead of one!

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Chilly June 4, 2010 at 3:43 am

Our local cinema has different screenings for different needs: “Baby Flicks” and “Additional Needs Screenings”. Parents can take their small restless children to a film at noon on Tuesdays – the lighting is turned up slightly so they can keep an eye on their kids and there’s no restriction on noise. The additional needs screenings also have brighter lights but lower sound and patrons are “free to express themselves as they need”.

I think this is a great business idea and helps us adjust our etiquette expectations. :)

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NKKingston June 4, 2010 at 7:27 am

@ Chunks

Yeah, somehow I think the fact no one else applauded might have something to do with your own ‘etiquette faux-pas’ there, and what they bitched about when they got home probably wasn’t that family… . If someone is bothering you, either speak to them quietly in person, or speak to a member of staff. Don’t shame them into leaving.

I’m sorry, but I’d rather share a cinema with restless kids than an areshole. They can’t help it; you can. What on earth you’re doing on this website I can’t fathom.

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Flower June 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

They may also have been gifted with the tickets and had never seen the promotional material, nor been familiar with the story of Hamlet. We have been gifted with theatre tickets many times to shows we have no idea about. They might have asked the giver if they could take their child and been told they could. Once they were aware the show was inappropriate for their child, they took appropriate actions. Don’t automatically assume the worst in people. I get sick of childless people bagging out families. The vast majority of the population endeavour to be respectful.

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Shayna June 4, 2010 at 10:11 am

I should apologize to anyone I’ve offended with my comment. It was not my intention to upset anyone. I have no children because of medical reasons, but to satisfy my desire for them, I run a small in-home daycare. I most certainly don’t begrudge anyone their children. All I was trying to say in my comment is that if you’ve chosen to have children, then parents need to realize that their lives need to change. Unless you can get a sitter, then you need to limit yourself to child-friendly activities. Those of you who are parents who keep your children properly reigned in, great! Many parents today seem to take the “lazy” way out and let their children do whatever they please. I believe the line “I don’t want to fight with them, so I just let them do whatever they want” is one of my biggest pet peeves. Many a child has passed through my home who was described as “well-behaved” by their parents, were in reality little terrors who I couldn’t wait to send home.

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Calliope June 4, 2010 at 11:39 am

Flower, please notice that many of the commenters here who disagreed with what the parents did have children of their own. It irritates me that every etiquette breach involving parents is perceived as a war between parents and the child-free. I believe that the parents in this post were rude to bring their child to the play, and I’m not terribly interested in speculating possible excuses for why they did so, but that doesn’t make me anti-child, let alone anti-family. I would never “bag out” families; I have a family, too. It just doesn’t include children.

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Margaret June 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

Re comment 8 — Cady — funny you should say that about expecting to see kids at the kid show. The last time I went to the movie theatre in the town closest to where I live, I took my three kids under the age of 7 to an EARLY showing of a CARTOON (disney or pixar — forget which one at the moment) . They were fairly restless and didn’t sit still, but they weren’t horribly noisy – a little giggling here and there. At the end, the manager came up and told us that if they ever behaved like that again, we would be asked to leave. Apparently, the people in the centre row (we always sit on the side so that the kids aren’t in anyone’s way) were upset by the presence of children acting like children at a children’s show. However, with my usual sang froid (ha ha) I calmly replied, “Don’t worry, we won’t be back” and we never have been. We now go to a different town to watch movies, and it really is much more child friendly. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In my experience, the original town just has a culture of being unfriendly. Their town was even boycotted for a year or so by another community that had been used to getting their services & supplies at that town.

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geekgirl June 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I also went to see Hamlet, starring a familiar TV actor. The woman next to me had chosen to bring her six year old, presumably because she was a fan of the TV show the actor starred in. It was an adult production, long and involved, and whilst I loved it, the six year old next to me did not. She squirmed and muttered and wriggled throughout the whole production, and when the final fight started, got excited and started yelling things at the stage. What’s more, it was an evening production that finished at 10.30pm, by which time the child was fractious and tired. The mother seemed not to realise that Hamlet is not really an appropriate play for a six year child, and that a theatre is not the place for a talkative, wriggling, fractious child, even in the play does star someone the child quite likes.

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Littlepixie June 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Flower, how on earth can anyone be “Not familiar with Hamlet”? I would be truly and deeply disturbed if that were true.

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ferretrick June 4, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Oh, come on. Hamlet is the most famous, arguably the greatest play in Western culture. Its pretty unfathomable that an adult would not have any idea that Shakespeare is not appropriate for children.

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ferretrick June 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm

For that matter, just for argument’s sake, if they didn’t know ANYTHING about Hamlet, isn’t it your job to investigate what entertainment your child is seeing BEFORE they see it?

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TheBardess June 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Wow, Chunks, I have to say- I understand your frustration with the woman who brought her small children to the movie, but to be perfectly honest, I think you were just as rude as she was. Yelling at her to “get a babysitter,” then applauding as she left and later referring to her as an “idiot who should never have been allowed to breed” does not win you any etiquette points, and you come out looking just as bad- if not worse- than the original offender. The appropriate response would have been to quietly and politely ask the woman if she wouldn’t mind taking her children out of the theater as they were disturbing the viewing experience of others or, better yet, alert an usher or other member of the theater staff to the situation and have them handle it- that’s what they’re there for.

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TheBardess June 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

@ Littlepixie and ferretrick

As much as it causes me- an English major and Shakespeare lover- indescribable pain, I have actually met individuals who were unfamiliar with “Hamlet.” Mercifully, they are few and far between, but they are out there (although I agree with you, ferretrick, even if parents are not familiar with a play, movie, or other piece of entertainment, it is certainly their responsibility to investigate said entertainment before taking a child).

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Mistress June 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm

The whole situation is unfortunate for everyone involved. It’s unfortunate for the kid- I’m not 6 and I wouldn’t want to sit through hamlet. It’s pretty unrealistic to expect a kid who is afraid of the dark and loud noises to sit quietly in a dark, noisy theater. It’s unfortunate for the theater, because it’s always uncomfortable to have to ask people to leave. And it’s unfortunate for the parents, because they must have been so desperate for a night out that they had a temporary lapse of gray matter.

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geekgirl June 5, 2010 at 3:11 am

I also had an experience in a cinema with a mother and a child – a toddler really – coming to see a grown-up movie. The child got bored, and started loudly talking about how bored he was, kicking the back of the seat, and running around. I did turn round, and politely ask the mother to keep her child under control – not only did she refuse, but she then spent the whole movie muttering about how rude I was for wanting to stop her precious child from expressing himself. And I still got kicked in the back the entire movie. I did try find an usher to talk to her, but the staff said she’d bought a ticket, there was nothing they could do. I know some parents like to take their child everywhere, to the pub, to the cinema, for the theatre, but there are some places that children really shouldn’t go.

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Isolde June 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm

There has been a little criticism for how the incident was handled. Someone mentioned that the kid shouldn’t have been let in through the doors in the first place since there is a policy for no children under six. I think that the theater manager handled the issue perfectly. They assessed that the child was going to be a problem before the show, and spared the audience members (and mother, who I presume stayed to enjoy the play, weird!) the anxiety of having a rambunctious and frightened child in the audience.
I don’t think it is the ticket taker’s duty to assess who “looks old enough” to make the cut. Children vary widely in emotional and physical maturity, and it would be a tough call to determine who is six and who is not. I’ve seen ginormous toddlers, and kids who look far younger than they are. I’ve met six year olds who write screenplays, whilst other kids in the same age group can still be prone to temper tantrums. Determining if your child is ready for certain subject matter is the duty of the parents. In this case, for whatever reason, the parents made a bad judgment call.

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mommaknowsbest June 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Vrinda – what are you talking about? If you say no children under a certain age are allowed, you post someone at the door and make sure they don’t come in. You hand the person your ticket and you are allowed in or not—-what do you mean you can’t keep people from bringing kids into a theater??

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Jenna June 6, 2010 at 11:48 am

Even if they were unfamiliar with Hamlet (I doubt it but you never know) they are not excused. The parents told the manager that their child is scared of the dark. They had to know it would be dark in the theatre.

For all we know maybe this theatre does do performances that would be more suitable to children but this was not one of them. The only people rude here were the parents.

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Tara June 7, 2010 at 4:50 am

If you suspect that an event or venue may not be appropriate, perhaps do a little research? It should not be difficult in this day and age to find information that will allow one to make an informed decision.
Kudos must be given to the parent who did his best to show consideration to the other patrons, once it became apparent that this was not going to be allowed. I do wonder why they would not leave at that point, but we never really know all the details.

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AS June 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

For some reason, the parents in the story seem to be TOTALLY clueless, but not the entitled type. Though it does not forgive their bringing the child, they seemed to have had the cognizance for the father to leave the theatre when requested by the staff (maybe the mother stayed back so that at least one person get their money’s worth). They did not act like the mother that geekgirl is talking about. If the parents were desperate for a night out together, hopefully they learnt their lesson – it is better to go to a child-friendly place than one of them ending up spending the time outside looking after the child (and the ticket going waste!) when they could have been doing something more fun. I don’t think the theatre can do much about the child entering. It is not as if people are asked to show a proof of age while going in, and it is not the responsibility of the ticketing clerk to gauge children’s ages.
There is no reason to assume that the couple is familiar with Shakespeare. There is no indication that they belong to an Anglophonic country and hence they may not be familiar with the play. Maybe it is their first time watching a Shakespeare play. The parents should have done their research to see if they can take their child or not – probably it is just something they overlooked and if their child is actually more than 6 years old, they just blindly took him with them to the theatre as children above 6 years are allowed.

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Enna June 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

If the parents didn’t know what Hamlet is about (I’ve never studied it and don’t have a clue about it) they should’ve checked before hand. However I have stuided Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet so know that period plays are hardly suitable for children – I struggled at school as a teenager with period plays how on earth is a small child going to deal with it?

Right I don’t have children but I do have some idea about what is suitable and unsuitable for a child from my own experinces talking with firends who are parents and family members let alone using my own common sense.

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PrincessSimmi June 7, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Who on earth would take a 6-year-old who is scared of the dark to see a play? I can’t even take my 50 year old mother, we went to see The Phantom of the Opera and she poked me every time the Phantom came on stage.

I would say, for the parents to go to see Hamlet, they would have to be educated enough to know that it is Shakespeare and therefore will be long, wordy and dramatic. The poor kid isn’t going to enjoy it. I’m 22 and I wouldn’t go to see Shakespeare, because I wouldn’t enjoy it. Yes, it is a faux pas on their part, but I hope to the heavens that it was a temporary brain lapse only.

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Hellbound Alleee June 10, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I can see that not a lot of people have worked at a box office or took tickets at the door.

I worked for a professional theatre company for 10 years, and I can tell you that “bouncing,” (making sure certain people don’t go in or leave the lobby entirely) is not the job of the box office, nor the ticket takers, who are often volunteers. It’s the job of the House Manager, who is, understandably, not the “boss” of the theatre. He answers to others.

Theatres, most often always struggling for money, tend to have soft policies: make the Patron think He is the exception to the rule. Yes, just like any retail situation. But House Managers have to do some unpleasant tasks quite often. The first task is always going to be babes in arms, even if that play is Equus. Not a shocker, not for me. The patron is always to be given the benefit of the doubt (it’s really about compassion, but all patrons’ needs must be considered). If the patrons needs are overriding everyone else’s then the decision is made. And, sadly, it always seems like Daddy’s the one walking baby around in the lobby.

The funny thing for me is people’s reaction to the play itself. This situation happens in Children’s Theatres, where they’re showing the Velveteen Rabbit. There’s always a child who is too overwhelmed to handle the grandeur of a theatre, no matter how child-friendly it is. Noise, dark, and the feeling of being way up high–that expanse of seats around can easily upset a kid with Asperger’s symptoms. Six years old is too young for some of the simplest of plays–we had two theatres, a smaller one that showed gentler plays, and a grand one that showed big productions. Even then, showing a puppet play like Stellaluna, it was too scary for many 6 year-olds. Puppet shows for them are better shown in libraries or schoolrooms with the lights on.

But we knew that we must leave the judgment of what the child can handle with the parents. Even though we know that truly, many parents just weren’t good judges of that. And I can sympathize–how many of them were exposed to the theatre very much at all? It’s a new experience for a lot of people in this part of the world these days. Sad, but true.

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Molly June 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm

geekgirl – you saw Hamlet with David Tennant, didn’t you. Consider it a guess from your name ;)

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Deborah August 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Don’t knock shakespear. I attended ‘The Tempest’ at age 7 and enjoyed it, though admittedly not Hamlet at age 6. It all depends on the child. I can understand why the child was let in – it prevents the embarassment of excluding an older child who looks young, and management was certainly correct in removing the child as soon as the behaviour became apparent.
The fault here lies solely with the parents. Their judgement is severely lacking.

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lkb August 14, 2010 at 7:04 am

This brings to mind a situation that occurred several years ago. My son, age 8, had a field trip to the local planetarium. I was a chaperone, bringing along, with the teacher’s knowledge, our infant daughter (less than four months old). Nothing was said when I ordered and paid for my ticket through the teacher.

When I entered the planetarium theater, the usher saw my (soundly sleeping) daughter and said I would have to pay for her admission ($7 — full price), when I left. Why? She slept soundly in my arms the full time. I made a point of sitting with my son and nearest the exit in case she did start to fuss. She would definitely not have occupied a seat someone else would have taken (she couldn’t even sit up yet.) This was a kids’ field trip and a rare opportunity for me to spend time with my son in those first days after having giving birth to his sibling.

Instead, after the performance, I spent the rest of the time in the lobby (while the kids worked the displays there), holding my daughter in a spy-vs-spy huddle trying to avoid the usher who wanted to charge me the extra money.

I called the planetarium to complain and they said, yes indeed that was the policy so as to avoid having little ones disrupt the show. Then why was there no notice given to parent chaperones for a school field trip — many of whom bring younger siblings. Why not just refund my money (I’d have sat in the lobby)? Why instead try to soak me for an additional full-price admission? Yes, perhaps I was thoughtless in going on that show, but in my opinion, the planetarium took this as a way to make some extra money rather than as an etiquette issue.

Grrr.

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Michelle P September 7, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I have an eight year old and wouldn’t dream of taking her to a play of Shakespeare’s! When she was younger, we went only to kid friendly restaurants and other places, and I still took her out when she acted up! This post was simple, and has nothing to do with who knows Shakespeare or his plays. Don’t take young children to inappropriate places, period. At least the parents in this one did the right thing when asked.

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Allison December 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I canno understand people that bring their pets to people’s homes. I’ve had invited guests arrive with pets and I’ve had drop-by-guests arrive with pets … not just chat in the yard but ring the doorbell and expect to come inside. Don’t mis-understand … I have two pet goats, two cats, and one dog. Should we load them up and head on over to the dinner party we’ve been invited to?? Better yet, let’s take them to Hamlet and provide them with an enriching, cultural experience.

No, not appropriate and my pets will not enjoy themselves. Same for small children dragged into adult entainment: they will not enjoy themselves (and nor will those around them).

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