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Theater Theatrics

Over the weekend, I attended a play at our local high school. It was a fundraiser for a theater in a neighboring city. It’s a very nice event, but in order to maximize seating, they hold it in an auditorium, rather than the normal theater. This was the first time it was held it my town. I have season tickets to the theater and was very excited that they were doing something in our town.

Having been to the fundraisers before I knew to line up early as all seating is general admission. We had five people in our party, and there were about 20 -30 people in front of us. As the doors open, all of the people went down the more visible, but longer, hallway to the right. Knowing there was a second door on the left, I went that direction, thus starting the split flow of people into the auditorium. This is important because it meant that my party was one of the first into the auditorium.

The auditorium is arranged with five rows in front, a large aisle way, with the majority portion of the seating behind that. Knowing the auditorium, I went to the first row of that second section, as it’s just about eye level with actors on the stage. Perfect viewing in my opinion. There was no one in this row yet, but someone had saved the first four seats (by placing jackets on them) so I moved past those to the center. (Saving seats this way is common at the high school, as the performers often save them for teachers, parents, and crew of the play)

Suddenly, this woman comes barreling in from the other stairway- literally running in the row. She throws up her hands and says ” these are ours”. She quickly turns to her party and asks if they have enough seat then turns back to me and announces that they don’t have enough. I checked with the last person in our party, and there were a couple seats between her and the saved seat, so we moved back. Freeing up two seats for the woman’s group. We sat down and she says ” We still don’t have enough. There are nine of us, you’ll need to move”. My only reply is ” I’m sorry. There is still plenty of seating in the other rows.” After grumbling, she sends her two teenagers in her group to sit somewhere else.

Now, being this is a family friendly play, I expect a certain amount of whining, crying, and other issues that comes with having small children in a three hour play. But I was not prepared for what happened next. The woman placed her 6 year old next to me. The child could not sit still. Up, down, up , down, up, down. It was really wearing on my nerves. Worse was the fact that she would turn in her seat and put her feet on me, getting my pants dirty. The mother did nothing. When they returned from the lobby at intermission and the process started to repeat, I asked the child if she could please try not to put her feet on me. The mother freaked and demanded to know why I was speaking to her child. I repeated my request. “She’s doing nothing wrong!”. I disagreed and told her that I understood that it was a long performance and some fidgeting was expected, I would appreciate it if my pants weren’t subject to her childs shoes. “Well, I never…!” she started to reply. In for a penny, in for a pound- I interrupted and told her that I though the woman behind her daughter would probably appreciate her remaining in her seat, rather than standing and obstructing her view. Much to my surprise a voice said ” I really would, it’s quite distracting”. I hadn’t realized she had been watching the exchange.

To her credit, the woman did try and keep the child somewhat settled for the second half. But midway through, the child needed to use the restroom, and they couldn’t get out of the row. So she started screaming. ” I need to go!”

After the play, the woman behind us thanked me for speaking up.

All in all, it was a wonderful play, but definitely tested my patience and my etiquette skills. 0112-14


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JO January 14, 2015, 6:36 am

    What is it with parents who simply *cannot* fathom that their child is, indeed, doing something wrong?

    • Ceallach January 16, 2015, 3:28 pm

      Probably the same adults who think that they themselves can never do any wrong! They apply the same special snowflake status to their offspring.

  • Margo January 14, 2015, 7:08 am

    I wonder whether she deliberately placed her 6 year old next to you to ‘punish’ you for not giving up your seats? It seems odd, if she was part of a bigger group, that she would not either put the 6 year old between two members of the group, or swap seats with her at the point where the child’s behaviour was attracting attention from you and the lady behind – particularly if she objected to you, a stranger, speaking to her child.

    It’s possible that she didn’t realise that her child had been putting her feet on you, until you mentioned it, but she should have either spoken to her child, or taken her out, if she could not sit still, and could have easily swapped seats with her daughter at intermission to allow her to better manage her behaviour and avoid continuing to disrupt other members of the audience.

    It sounds as though you were pretty restrained. i would probably have spoken to the child the firt time she kicked me, and requested that her mother swap seats with her at intermission.

    • Ergala January 14, 2015, 2:18 pm

      I agree! My 5 year old fidgets something fierce so he always in between my husband and I. Our 9 year old sits in the aisle seat. This way they aren’t disrupting anyone.

    • vjcole January 14, 2015, 2:21 pm

      That was my immediate thought as well – that the mother put the six year old there on purpose. Had that child put her feet on my pants, I would have picked up her feet/legs and dropped them HARD on her own seat.

      • cdubz January 15, 2015, 8:59 am

        Deliberately hurting the child is not the answer, it will get you into legal trouble and not to mention just makes you a jerk. Retaliation of any kind only escalates the problem; in my opinion the OP did the right thing.

      • KenderJ January 15, 2015, 4:04 pm

        It’s not kosher to touch someone else’s child unless they are in imminent danger. There are many etiquette approved options available that do not include laying hands on a strange child.

        • LadyV January 15, 2015, 9:22 pm

          I’m sorry, but child or not, if someone is invading my personal space, I feel justified in removing that person from said space and returning him/her to where he/she is supposed to be. If the child’s parent doesn’t want me touching her child, she should be keeping track of what her little angel is doing.

      • Tara January 17, 2015, 4:52 pm

        If you touch a child like that, I guarantee you’ll get arrested. Even if you don’t hurt the child, it’s considered assault, and I don’t know any parent who wouldn’t call the cops on you. You talk to the parent and let them know what their kid is doing, or ask the kid to stop. Most kids respect strange adults more than their own parents, and if they’re firmly spoken to by a stranger (you don’t have to be mean, just firm), they almost always obey.

        • ThetaMarie January 28, 2015, 3:39 am

          Six years old is old enough to understand that you have done something wrong. So, if it had been me, my first course of action would be to firmly tell the 6yo that she needs to keep still and keep her hands and feet to herself, using those exact words. That’s what all school teachers, youth club workers and (decent) parents tell children, and they will understand that they have done something wrong. If you say nothing, they assume it’s okay. If you say ‘you are getting me dirty’ or ‘you are hurting me’ the child can interpret that as ‘it’s okay if you don’t get me dirty/hurt me’. I’ve volunteered with 5+ year olds long enough to know that they DO understand right and wrong and they WILL react to instructions if given in a way they can understand. Since the child was next to you, you speak to her first. Then, if she doesn’t obey, you ask the parent.

          Frankly though, I’m astounded that the woman was so rude and cruel as to put her child next to a stranger when it really wasn’t necessary. I guess the kid didn’t have any confidence issues (getting in personal space would suggest not) but most kids wouldn’t want to sit next to a stranger: nor would most strangers appreciate being put next to a child.

  • Dominic January 14, 2015, 8:05 am

    This past holiday season we attended a local production of the Nutcracker put on by a local youth ballet organization. The level of training and talent is incredible, and the sets are quite professional. The production is a treat to watch, and the tickets are not inexpensive. There are lots of families there with children because of the show and because many of them have a son or daughter in the performance. We likewise expected some issues with behavior, but it ended up being the parents and not the children. In our case, we were in the second row of the first balcony, and several grownups insisted on leaning forward in their seats over the balcony railing, which would effectively block the view of those of us in the second row. Multiple people had to ask multiple times for these adults to sit back properly in their seats.

    As for the OP’s situation, it was bad form on the part of the woman to seat her young child next to a stranger–wouldn’t it have been better to for the woman herself to sit between OP and the child, effectively corralling the children within her group?

    • jazzgirl205 January 14, 2015, 2:02 pm

      I used to take my little girl to the symphony and ballet. She behaved beautifully. Why? I bought her a rhinestone tiara that she was only allowed to wear at such events. If she misbehaved, it was removed. Never had a problem.

      • Cabelcb January 14, 2015, 9:55 pm

        I like your tiara idea. It made her feel special and she behaved.

      • Wild Irish Rose January 15, 2015, 11:30 am

        Brilliant. In more ways than one. 🙂

  • clairedelune January 14, 2015, 9:00 am

    Good for you for maintaining your polite spine, OP. (“These are ours”?? By what metric?? People are so nervy.)

  • Yet Another Laura January 14, 2015, 9:24 am

    Given how rude the woman was when she demanded that you move for her group, I would not be surprised if she deliberately seated the fidgety six-year old next to you. Most parents would prefer that their young children sit between two trusted adults and in a party of nine, there would most likely be two trusted adults.

  • Shalamar January 14, 2015, 9:25 am

    Oh boy. THREE HOURS? I’m sorry, even if it was a family-friendly play, there’s no way even the most well-behaved 6-year-old would sit still that long. (And that particular child didn’t sound very well-behaved.)

  • Ripple January 14, 2015, 9:32 am

    Several years ago, a friend and I went to see a matinee performance of “The King and I” with Yul Brenner – this was his last tour before his death. There was a woman in the row in front of us with an infant in her arms. Naturally, as they will, the infant fussed through much of the first half of the play. During the intermission, an usher came to the woman and told her she would have to move or leave because her baby was disturbing other people. She said he wasn’t bothering anybody and turned to my friend and me for corroboration. My friend immediately said we were being bothered. The woman was forced to move – I don’t know if she left, got a refund, or just moved to a more secluded spot. The rest of the play went spendidly. Why would you bring an infant to a live performance that is several hours long? And don’t tell me “couldn’t find a baby sitter.”

    • Jared Bascomb January 14, 2015, 11:15 am

      The professional theatre I usher at has a strict minimum age limit – I believe it’s six.

      • kingsrings January 14, 2015, 12:26 pm

        I usher for a local theater company. They have rules spelled out everywhere on their website that nobody under the age of 16 is admitted. Most of their shows are not family-friendly. However, with a recent Christmas-themed production they had, I saw several elementary school-age children at the two performances I attended. The issue is is that since many people buy their tickets online, nobody has a way of knowing if kids are included in that purchase, so no theater personnel can advise them of the rule.

        • Jared Bascomb January 14, 2015, 9:08 pm

          I realize that a lot of parents want to expose their children to live theatre at a young age, and particularly if the show is age-appropriate. Most of the shows I see at the theatres I usher at are decidedly not for the small ones. If they were movies, they’d be in the PG-13 to R range, leaving it up to the parents to decide if the production is appropriate for their offspring, and I think that most parents bringing their offspring to the show are aware of the themes and content. They’d better be – they’re paying upward of $60/ticket!
          There are also warnings posted at the door about content and smoke/lighting effects.

      • Jared Bascomb January 14, 2015, 9:00 pm

        ETA: The minimum age is five. For The Grinch, it’s three.

    • SingActDance January 14, 2015, 2:17 pm

      Our theaters allow infants, but we have a great deterrent. All people entering the theatre must have a ticket. So a parent can bring their babe-in-arms, but they’ll be paying a lot of money to do so.

      • NostalgicGal January 14, 2015, 6:06 pm

        Like it. If they have to pay full price for a small, bet it has cut your number of smalls!

    • kit January 14, 2015, 3:59 pm

      Where I live, usually tickets to “things” in general are full price for adults, reduced price for pupils (and students and retired people etc), and free for children too young to be in school yet. I really liked it when I heard that in a concert, there were reduced prices for pupils (and those others), and… that was it. The people who brought their babies were shocked to find out that they were required to buy a full price ticket for them. The organizers replied to a reporter who asked about it that the concert was not meant for young children, and as they weren’t pupils/students, there was no reduced price for them.

      Really, more theatres/etc not meant for babies should take that attitude – find a babysitter, or buy your baby a full price ticket. Maybe that would make the parents to actually think before taking the baby with them.

      I will have a baby soon, and I probably will take it along when my son performs in his music school concert. I intend to stay next to door, though, and leave if necessary. Actually, my pet peeve during such concerts is not babies who sometimes do a little noise and that are understandably difficult to quiet down (and it isn’t good for the older child if mom won’t come to listen to him performing because she has a new baby – so the new baby is more important, the older will feel), it is when music school pupils themselves and grown-ups don’t know you don’t talk/walk/etc when someone is performing!

      • Jools January 14, 2015, 5:51 pm

        The worst I’ve seen was last month, someone posted on the Facebook event for a local live production complaining about the lack of child ticket prices, because she thought her 4-year-old would love the show. The thing is, it was a burlesque show, in a licensed venue, and hence was adults only for very good (legal) reasons!

    • CaliGirl January 14, 2015, 10:19 pm

      Hear, hear! I hate that excuse. You know what happened when we couldn’t find a babysitter? We stayed home.

  • lnelson1218 January 14, 2015, 9:34 am

    Saving a seat is one thing if there is no assigned seatting. For a large group, is a pet peeve . If you want to sit together come together as a group. Haven’t we all seen enough no shows or the person arriving late has the consideration to stay in th back in order not to distrub the performance.

    Too many times, a saved places for people running late especially in front rows, means the person will have to distrub everyone when they arrive after the performance has started.

    • Yet Another Laura January 14, 2015, 11:08 am

      And by disturbing everyone, that includes the actors. Last play I was in, the house manager would not allow anyone to be seated during Act One if they arrived after the show started. Some people got really huffy about it.

      • Ripple January 14, 2015, 1:49 pm

        I used to attend the National Sympony at the Kennedy Center. Once the orchestra started, no one could get seated until the first movement was over. I remember one time there were so many people being seated after the first movement that the conductor crossed his arms and leaned back against the railing surrounding his podium. Another time, the conductor just started the piece over again because the time between the movements grew so long it disrupted the flow of the music.

      • burgerking January 15, 2015, 9:48 am

        that is very unusual. I recently went to a concert in a very large city, that was supposed to start at a certain time. That time came and went because there were still so many people trying to get into the theater. It made the show start very late, which is one of my pet peeves. You say a show is going to start at 7, people should know how to show up ,get a parking space, get in the line and get seated before 7.

      • Library Diva January 15, 2015, 10:39 am

        I picked up a temp job when the touring production of The Lion King was in town a few years ago, selling merchandise in the lobby. The show had a very strict 10-minute hold because of the nature of the opening number. The performers need to have the aisles clear and accessible throughout the first song. A group walking down the aisle would put them at risk and ruin the number for everyone. It’s amazing how irate some people get when they find out that endless accommodations will not be made for them.

    • Cecilia January 14, 2015, 12:41 pm

      Saving seats drives me crazy! Once, a lady tried to save seats on the bleachers at the annual cross-town rival football game. I came 2 hours early specifically to get a good seat. There were none of the usual blankets, jackets, stadium seat pads, etc. A woman with about six kids walked up and demanded that I move because her husband was coming later with more kids and they needed x amount of the row. I politely told her that stadium/bleacher seats were not reserved and that I was not moving. I suggested her husband and the rest of the kids sit in the next row. She got all huffy, but I never moved. Her husband and the rest of the kids showed up middle way of the fourth quarter.

      • Lady Anne January 15, 2015, 10:46 am

        I was witness to a “seat saving” dust-up that nearly came to blows, and I was completely on the side of the “saver”.

        There is no reserved seating at high school graduations, so it is sometimes a scramble for families to sit together. Graduates only get a very limited number of tickets – generally four – so we’re not talking about saving seats for a dozen people, so there’s usually no problem. However, a family seated in the row in front of us had gotten settled when Mom decided to make a run to the loo before the program started, and left her coat on the seat.

        Another woman came up the aisle, spotted the empty seat and immediately began DEMANDING that the man move over so she could sit there. He told her No, it was his wife’s seat, and she got very snarky, asking where his wife was, you just don’t want to have anybody sit next to you, ya-da, ya-da. Just as all of us watching expected blood to flow, the wife returned and stood quietly behind the rude woman.

        Just stood there.

        The woman finally became aware of her presence and turned around and shouted at her, “What you find so d—d interesting here? Why don’t you just move along while I try to sit down?” To which the wife replied, very quietly, “I’d like to sit next to my husband, if *you* don’t mind.”

        And she huffed and she puffed, and she moved along. I think she ended up sitting in the rafters, which served her right. Probably hung from them – upside down. (My, but I’m in a good mood this morning!)

        • NostalgicGal January 16, 2015, 11:40 pm

          I love your mood. 🙂 Lady Anne, don’t worry about moods, we all have them. Thanks for the smile.

    • Booklover13 January 14, 2015, 1:03 pm

      I find saving sets more forgivable in the high school setting. There are often people who help out before the show and thus can not claim their own seats. Usually, as was done in this case, the saved seats are aisle seats to avoid distributing others. The fact that the jackets where there when the OP arrived, and she claims to have been the first one to that area of the theater, leads me to believe this is why the seats where saved, since the only ones who would have had the access necessary to save them would have been a part of the production.

      • KenderJ January 15, 2015, 4:22 pm

        Actually, the OP’S stated she moved past the seats that had the jackets to empty seats when other woman came running up insisting that OP move.

      • lakey January 15, 2015, 5:42 pm

        A simple way to save seats for people working on the production is to have signs posted on the seats. We did this for our school Christmas program. Coats on the seats makes it look like it’s people being special snowflakes.

  • hakayama January 14, 2015, 9:38 am

    Good job, OP. Magnificent polite spine!
    It’s a darn shame that too many people that raise children do not take the “readiness” factor into consideration. No matter how good a cause, even if the event were termed “family friendly”, the little girl was obviously out of her depth. So was the mother 😉 all around.
    When my own offspring was 2-3 years old, her father decided she needed some exposure to … In spite of my reasoning, we went to the Museum of Natural History, entering the building by the avian exhibits. The child looked at some of the magnificent dioramas, and then said “I want to go outside to see the real birds that fly around and say tweet-tweet.”
    This was one situation where you just do not argue with a 3 year old. I didn’t even have to say “I told you so”.
    (P.S.: My ex was such a slow learner that he became marital, and martial ;-), history when our child was 5.)

    • helen-louise January 14, 2015, 12:25 pm

      To be fair, I have a similar story in which I know the child wanted to go to the museum because it was me 🙂 Aged around 3, I must have seen the Natural History Museum in London on the television. The front entrance hall of this museum has a diplodocus skeleton and I kept pestering my parents that I wanted to go and see the dinosaur. So, one Saturday we drove to London, paid a ridiculous amount of money for parking, I walked into the museum, examined the diplodocus skeleton from a variety of angles, and declared “I’ve seen the dinosaur now, we can go home!”.

      I *think* my parents managed to persuade me that there were other things worth looking at in the museum (other dinosaur skeletons?), but small child logic is just so odd.

      • hakayama January 15, 2015, 8:29 am

        @helen-louise: My theory is that “small child logic”, as you call it, is not really odd. I believe that it is straightforward and “unspoiled by education and civilization”.
        YOU had not way of knowing and understanding the logistics. You were focused on your mission of the moment, and happily, it was accomplished. Kudos to your parents for taking the “other attractions” tack vs. the trouble and expense involved.
        My own fond 9 year old’s memory from that museum were the whale and the butterflies.

      • Rowan January 16, 2015, 4:41 am

        There are many awesome dinosaur skeletons at the NHM. Also a dinosaur shop, where you can get dino hats that fit adults (not that I bought one for myself, it was for my son, honest).

    • Samantha January 14, 2015, 4:42 pm

      It seems like your response was just a way to get a dig-in at your ex. I’m not sure what the situation is there, but maybe sometimes silence is best. My parents divorced when my sister was five and she and I appreciated how civil our parents were to each other. Just a thought.

      • carroll January 14, 2015, 6:17 pm

        What response are you referring to? It says she *didn’t* even have to say “I told you so”.

      • monkey's mommy January 14, 2015, 8:39 pm

        Because I’m sure her ex and her kids are reading this right now…

      • hakayama January 14, 2015, 10:07 pm

        @Samantha: Congratulations on you and your sister growing with civilly divorced parents. Also thank you for the “on target” advice regarding silence. What you don’t know, because it had nothing to do with my brief anecdote, is that I also practiced “one-sided compromises” and calm argumentation. It did not work.
        As for what you call the “dig-in” at the ex, there would have to be first a “dig-out” since he’s been buried for quite a while. Some time prior to that, when I caught on that he and offspring were not communicating, I placed a call to him and set in motion their getting in touch again. I was pleasantly not totally surprised, that after 25 years the deeply seated anger and hurt at the betrayal and treatment as a non-person, were finally “burned out”.
        Yes, father and child DID see each other as per divorce agreement, but I managed not to see nor speak to HIM. Or about. He ceased to exist, and I moved on with my life unencumbered by his shadow.

        As for the “readiness” for certain steps and activities, with infants the rule of thumb is not to help nor impair such things as sitting, crawling, standing, etc. The normally developing children will undertake those activities when they are ready.
        The same goes for social interaction and academic endeavors. It is unfortunate that we set a somewhat arbitrary age at which children are expected to start the three Rs, not to mention playing WITH each other as opposed to merely ALONG with each other.
        I’ve observed that uneven “progress” with many young kids rather casually. I was privileged to see the “catch up” in my own students in high school, when they experienced the “aha!” moment. Sometimes September brought in the most wonderful harvest of awakened awareness, interests, abilities. I sort of do miss it. And I certainly do miss the young people.

      • Goldie January 15, 2015, 9:20 am

        I believe Hakayama mentioned being retired or semi-retired in the other thread; so figured this story was from WAY back.

    • Stephanie January 14, 2015, 7:45 pm

      I’ve been taking my boys to museums and art galleries since they were two without any issue. To be fair, you don’t know how they’ll behave or if they’re ready until you’re there. My boys are…energetic and loud most of the time and can be complete demons at home…but take them out and suddenly they’re (usually) wonderful. My eldest sat through his first theatre performance (aimed at children) at 18 months and there was no talking or moving etc. I had to wait until my other boys were older but my eldest two (at the time 4 and 7) have sat through 3 hour plays aimed at older children. They’re better behaved than some of the adults (who talk and fidget).

      • hakayama January 15, 2015, 8:17 am

        Ah yes, Stephanie… Children are so unpredictable, so spontaneous, so genuine.
        So, when I took mine, with another 6 or so year old to the MOMA, I noticed them giggling in the sculpture garden in the vicinity of a waaaaaaaay larger than life female nude.
        Years later I was told that they giggled not because of nudity, but because of voluptuousness.

        • EchoGirl January 18, 2015, 12:58 pm

          It’s all about personality. I could sit through a theater performance before I was 7, but I had very little patience for museums unless they were interactive — honestly, I still don’t. I think it’s because I experience the world in a sensory-heavy way, so standing around looking at things holds only so much interest for me.

    • Goldie January 15, 2015, 9:18 am

      My sons (whom I never took to a dinner out until they were maybe 5-6 and 8-9, because I knew they wouldn’t sit still for a minute) LOVED the Natural Science museum. We have family photos of the happy kids, ages 4 and 7, standing over by the dinosaur sculpture in front of the museum with huge smiles on their faces (and no, the smiles were not because they finally got to leave the museum!) So it really depends on the child. I would’ve never tried a play or a classical concert with them when they were little, though – it would’ve ended badly.

      As for the mother in the story, I’m sure she didn’t give a hoot about the readiness factor. Her whole group of 9 was coming, so naturally she brought the six-year-old along too. Ready or not, here she comes!

  • Kategillian January 14, 2015, 9:51 am

    I find it bizarre that they would put a six year old at the end of a group of nine people, rather than in the middle where they could keep an eye on her. It sounds like they knew she would be trouble, and wanted to minimize the distractions to their OWN party.

  • nannerdoman January 14, 2015, 11:18 am

    Pod those who think Mom deliberately sat Miss Fidget next to the OP as “punishment”. My question is, how much enjoyment can Mom get from the performance with Miss Fidget acting up the way she was? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

    • TaterTot January 14, 2015, 2:02 pm

      Mom may be used to Miss Fidget and is able to ignore her.

    • Brenda January 14, 2015, 4:19 pm

      Haha, I can tell you from experience that parents get a thick skin and can easily ignore their kids bad or annoying behavior. Especially if they are trying to watch a different child or family member on stage. Most of us try not to do so in public, but it does happen. However, that doesn’t make it right…

  • mark January 14, 2015, 11:31 am

    I’ve long thought that seat saving should be reason to be thrown out of a performance. I don’t have a problem with the event organizers creating a preferred seating section, for special guests. Or one person saving a seat for one other person. But a teenager showing up and saving an entire row for a large group, bothers me a lot. If you are attending you need to show up on time and if you show up later you should deal with the seats that are available.

    One thing I do, that I know bugs some people is I like to sit on the aisle. It is much more comfortable and I’m not trapped in the middle of a row. So I get to a performance early enough to get an aisle seat, and I’m not usually going to move towards the center, just because you asked. I will of course gladly stand up to let you get by. I will switch seats if the switched seat is roughly equivalent to what I started with.

    • Kategillian January 14, 2015, 1:15 pm

      Mark, I absolutely agree with you, it is the equivalent of cutting in line.

      • Anonymouse January 15, 2015, 12:50 pm

        Unfortunately, cutting lines seems to have become acceptable behaviour now too… 🙁

    • Amanda H. January 14, 2015, 4:12 pm


      Last year, the university my husband works for did a series of matinee movies at the on-campus movie theater, and one of the movies they showed was Frozen. My then-four-year-old and I went to see it (and she was perfectly behaved, if anyone’s wondering).

      The people running the event did make the mistake of not restricting ticket sales to the exact number of seats in the room, I’ll admit. But that still doesn’t help the fact that when my daughter and I entered the theater room, there were several chunks of empty seats with coats thrown across them, and only about two adults per chunk of saved seats. Not a single otherwise unoccupied seat in the room. We managed to sit anyway because we saw some family friends who had a three-year-old son, so I took his seat, and he and my daughter each sat on their mom’s lap.

      Of course, not long after this was when the people running the event realized there was a seating problem going on. They started walking through the room, asking everyone who was saving seats if they’d actually PAID for those seats, explaining that if the seats hadn’t been paid for yet, then they’d have to be given away, because there was no guarantee that their intended occupants would actually arrive on time, and there were other people actually there and ready to pay and sit down. About half of the saved seats hadn’t been paid for yet, and I got to hear a few short-lived arguments about how “I KNOW our friends are coming, I just called them!” before the people in question capitulated and let other people sit in those seats. I think by the end of things, most of the paid-for-but-empty seats had even been refunded simply because those people hadn’t shown up yet, other people were there and waiting, and the show was already late in getting started due to the seating issues.

      So I’m totally behind a strict “no saving seats” rule, if only to help prevent issues like this. Seriously, if you’ve got a group of ten people going to the movie together, all ten of you should arrive on time and be in your seats instead of sending one person in and expecting them to save ten seats for you while you take your sweet time getting there. Especially for something as popular as Frozen.

      • mark January 14, 2015, 5:53 pm

        I really like reserved seating in theaters today. It makes most of the problem go away and if someone is being a pain, it makes the resolution easy. The person who has the reservation gets the seat. Of course I’m not to picky either. If the theater is almost empty and some one is sitting in my seat. (Usually they are in the wrong row inadvertently). I’ll just sit one row up or down.

        • Margo January 16, 2015, 6:40 am

          I much prefer reserved seating. It’s one of my biggest peeves with my local literary festival – they have events in different venues and it’s reasonable not to assign seating for the smaller rooms but the biggest events are in a former cinema which seats up to 1,600. The seats are numbered, and I have been to other events there where seats have been allocated, so I know it can be done, both by the venue and by the umbrella organisation the festival does its ticket sale through. (I also think it would benefits for the festival – if people know you can book, or will be assigned, a better seat if you book early, they will book early. One of the main reasons I am a ‘friend’ of one of the 2 festivals and not of the other is that one assigns seats for larger events, so the early booking for friends has a real advantage. The other doesn’t, and as it is very rare for events to sell out, there is very little benefit to the friends early booking.

          I also prefer it for theatre and cinema performances – all seats are not alike!

          • Amanda H. January 16, 2015, 1:13 pm

            Much agreed to mark and Margo both. So many things would be greatly simplified if seats were reserved by ticket, rather than just first-come first-served. Even movie theaters.

    • ColoradoCloudy January 14, 2015, 6:59 pm

      Agree 100%

  • Goldie January 14, 2015, 11:37 am

    How did this family expect to have nine seats reserved when they only saved four? Do they think everyone else is a mind-reader?

    Agree that it was odd to place a six-year-old at the edge of their large group, rather than in the middle, where she could wipe her boots on her family members’ clothes, rather than a stranger’s.

    • Alli January 14, 2015, 12:10 pm

      OP here. The four seats were someone elses. So 4 seats, our 5, then her party.

      • Goldie January 14, 2015, 5:45 pm

        So she didn’t even reserve them?? and still ran in after you five were seated, saying “these are ours”? Theirs for what reason? How odd!

      • mark January 14, 2015, 5:56 pm

        That’s worse, they just arrived late and expected you to move. Your experience reminds me of an old adage. “No good deed goes unpunished”. You move to help accommodate them and they reward you by seating you next to a hyper child.

        • Yet Another Laura January 15, 2015, 11:42 am

          I think a lot of this boils down to many people being too nice. So many times I hear of people sitting down in an unclaimed seat and moving just because someone else wants that seat, thus forcing the nice person to sit in a seat with an obstructed view / in front of someone kicking the seat / crammed in the middle of a row of five on a plane having just given up an aisle seat. Or they say no and feel like horrible selfish people for wanting to keep what’s legitimately theirs.

          My thoughts on why this happens and why rude people take advantage of this is that many of us – yes, myself included – were called selfish whenever we wanted something.

          I remember playing with toys and when another child asked to play with it, I was not allowed to say no to that request. The other child said please, therefore me keeping it was selfish. Somehow the word “please” didn’t work both ways. I couldn’t say “please” back at the other kid and get my toy back. I was “selfish” if I tried.

          Later on as a teenager and being expected to ask everyone else if they wanted the last cookie on the plate, even if I hadn’t had one yet, before I could take it. Not to do so was selfish.

          No wonder rude people stomp all over others. Most people are socialized to give in. It took me years to figure out that being selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

          • TaterTot January 15, 2015, 6:31 pm

            “It took me years to figure out that being selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

            You and me both!

          • Melalucci January 17, 2015, 2:05 am

            Absolutely agreed!

    • Booklover13 January 14, 2015, 1:09 pm

      The family were not the ones with the saved seats. I think the OP was a little unclear here but:

      ” There was no one in this row yet, but someone had saved the first four seats (by placing jackets on them) so I moved past those to the center.”

      “Suddenly, this woman comes barreling in from the other stairway- literally running in the row.”

      ” I checked with the last person in our party, and there were a couple seats between her and the saved seat, so we moved back. Freeing up two seats for the woman’s group. ”

      The OP’s group came in from one direction and moved past the saved seats. The woman then comes from the other direction and attempts to claim the row. The OP’s party sees there is room between them and the saved seats and moves over. Thus the OP’s party ends up between the family and the saved seats people.

  • Wendyw January 14, 2015, 12:07 pm

    Honestly, letting the 6 year old fuss and fidgeted like that sounds like one of my family members. They let the kids run up and down aisles and at restaurants the kids are allowed to roam after they eat, often going table to table talking with other diners.

    My family member thinks it’s cute that the kids are so open and friendly and it’s good socialization for them. When I have mentioned at strangers may not feel the same way, I was assured that my concerns were nonsense, people would speak up if it bothered them and besides, the kids are so cute and friendly that no one could possibly be bothered by them.

    I strained my eyeballs, they rolled so hard.

    • Devin January 14, 2015, 6:29 pm

      Or the servers that are worried they might drop a tray of food on their heads, or trip and fall over their toys/crayons/discarded items.
      I had a table once ask if I could return a roaming child their parents, which put me in a bad spot. Either the table the child was pestering would get annoyed (affecting my tip) or having to ask the parents to retrieve their child because it was bother other customers (affecting my tip).
      I’m sorry you have to dine out with them.

    • ColoradoCloudy January 14, 2015, 6:56 pm

      Ugh, just Ugh. People who think everyone loves their kids deserve a special kind of adolescence.

    • Trace January 14, 2015, 9:15 pm

      What your family members need to realize is that while children do need socialization, they also need to learn how to behave in public places and when it is inappropriate to bother other people.

    • Rebecca January 15, 2015, 12:44 am

      They’ll think it’s cute until a server trips over one of them with a tray of hot coffee. That almost happened when I was a server. When you have a tray of coffee in your hands and you’re trying to get to a table swiftly with it, so you can deal with the multitudes of other demands of your job, you can’t really see when there is a two-foot tall obstacle that shouldn’t be there, darting in front of your feet.

      • hakayama January 15, 2015, 11:42 am

        @Wendyw: If comments from Devin, Trace and Rebecca are not persuasive enough to have your relative stop the child nonsense, YOU might roll out the truly scary gun. Tell them that if there are physical or monetary losses caused by their wonderful wandering children, they, the parents just might get sued to Kingdom Come. Their kids, their responsibility, their liability. Especially when it can be demonstrated that the parents failed at protecting their charges from harm, and protecting the public at large from innocent interference by the children. And then, there’s the specter of CPS to reckon with.

      • NostalgicGal January 15, 2015, 12:17 pm

        I ran into a kid once with a trayful. I didn’t drop the tray and the kid did get a bit of a bruise, but. I paid for the table out of my own pocket which destroyed my night but made life happy with the family and the management and that kid never EVER was loose in the restaurant again when they came there to eat. We had this dark patterned commercial carpet to hide stains; and the kid was dressed in matching colors, and had dark hair–I had no idea they were there until we collided. I think they were under one of the tables in the ‘open seating’ section and did just that, darted out when I was heading for their booth…

    • Kara January 15, 2015, 8:32 am

      Woah. Eventually your family member is going to run into someone who doesn’t like kids and doesn’t find them cute and has no problem expressing that dislike in a less-then-nice way…

      And then what?

      Well, I guess that it will be an important lesson for your family member and her kids.

  • EllenS January 14, 2015, 12:08 pm

    What I don’t understand, is parents who freak out whenever someone speaks to their child – in their presence! Do they really think someone saying “please don’t put your feet on me” is somehow harming their child, or preparing to abduct their child right from under their nose?
    If I happen not to see something my child is doing, I appreciate other adults speaking to her like she is a reasonable human being. Of course, that may be why she doesn’t act this way.

    • Amanda H. January 15, 2015, 3:37 pm


      Even worse, when you don’t know which adult the child goes to and thus speak directly to the child, only to be yelled at by their parent for speaking to them.

      When I was still a cashier, on a busy day I saw a pair of preteen girls taking some noise-making toys we had in the checkout lanes and banging them like hammers against a nearby drink cooler. I saw no parents near them, no one paying any attention to them, so I walked over and politely asked the girls not to do that as it could break the toys (in fact, a few were already broken previously). The girls gave me that wide-eyed deer-in-headlights look like they’ve never been asked to stop damaging merchandise before, and ran off to the far end of the registers and out of sight.

      Cue my manager coming by about five minutes later to confirm that I’d asked some girls to stop banging toys against the drink cooler. Turns out their mother had complained to him that I hadn’t approached her about the girls’ behavior instead of talking to them. I didn’t know who she was or where she was, so how could I approach her about it? She’d been at the other end of the checkout lanes. Luckily my manager agreed that it was kind of dumb and I’d done just fine.

  • Cat January 14, 2015, 12:20 pm

    You did far better than I would have. I do not believe in taking children to anything other than productions meant for children.
    I see the same problem in churches. The young ones do not know what is going on and they are bored. Rather than bring something to amuse the child, the parents allow them to scribble in the hymnals, climb over the pews, throw things at the choir, and one child was even trying to climb on top of a votive candle stand. It is disturbing to those in the pews, but who gets asked to control one’s children in church?

    • A January 14, 2015, 11:42 pm

      Church is tough on young kids. Our church still has them join their parents for the first part of the service until the children’s sermon. Then they go to their classes. Honestly, in the rush of getting everyone out to church, I sometimes forget to bring any entertainment. With the younger child (around 9 and 10), he would often sit in my lap and play with my hands. It kept him contained and I was the only one distracted. It also gave us a moment of closeness.

      • Lady Anne January 15, 2015, 11:03 am

        Many years ago, there was a family at our church who allowed their son to run rampant during the service. This was back when air conditioning wasn’t common, and the son would go stick his fingers between the wires of the fan in the back of the church. Imagine his delight when he discovered he could make a real noise by poking a bulletin in there! And tell his dad about it. “Hey, Dad, look what I can do!” Nobody needs that on a Sunday morning.

        Most parents bring something to occupy the kids – a bag of Cheerios, crayons (sit on the kneeler and use the pew as a desk), a children’s Bible – but this little boy had a toy gun, which he would rattle against the sides of the pews as he ran up and down the aisles. One morning, I finally grabbed him as he flew by and plunked him down on the pew next to me. I hissed at him, “I came here to say my prayers, not watch you act like a wild Indian!”

        He looked startled, but stayed put for about five minutes and then returned to the family pew. The parents never said anything to me, but the rector expressed his profound gratitude.

      • Cat January 15, 2015, 3:06 pm

        I’d keep some small things in the car. Nothing too interesting though. I once gave a friend’s nine year old a Christmas gift to keep him entertained as he was the only child at an adult Christmas dinner. It was a plastic 3-D puzzle that, when assembled, became a castle with battlements and drawbridge. He spent the entire time putting it together.
        When Dad took him out to the car to go home, he turned and asked, “Dad, do we have any hot dogs at home? I’m hungry!” Dad replied, “How can you be hungry? We just had turkey and ham and a whole Christmas dinner!”
        Guess who was so busy with his puzzle, he didn’t bother to eat? He was so engrossed and silent, none of realized we had a hungry child in the house.

      • Amanda H. January 15, 2015, 3:39 pm

        This is why we keep a bag of church activities stocked and ready to go, but we’ve forgotten it once or twice before as well. Generally in those instances, our older daughters borrow my husband’s and my pens and draw on scrap paper from the church library, while the youngest cuddles in my lap and, just like yours, plays with my hands. For the most part, our kids behave well (and we take them out to the hallway when they won’t listen to us), and thankfully it’s just for an hour before everyone splits to classes.

    • Goldie January 15, 2015, 10:29 am

      I used to attend a church when my kids were younger (both stopped at 13), and I think our church handled this perfectly! The kids and I spent the first year or so upstairs in the cry room. They could run and play and there were books and toys for them to entertain themselves, but no one outside of the room could hear them. There was a large window and a set of speakers so parents could follow the service. My kids were maybe 18 mo and 4 yo at the time. Then for another year, we sat up on the balcony, next to the cry room. Even if my kids got restless, we were all the way on the balcony and, worse come to worst, we’d duck into the cry room. Then I started taking them to a playroom downstairs, where all the younger kids would play together with an adult supervising. At ages 4 and 5, they were old enough to start Sunday school. Starting from when they were maybe 7 or 8, they’d go sit with their Sunday School class for the first half of the service, before heading to class.

      My older son, when he was 6 or 7, would sometimes borrow a pen and some paper from me and entertain himself in church by multiplying 6-7-digit numbers on paper… But I do realize he’s an exception.

    • kolobok January 15, 2015, 11:15 am

      Cat, I would like to respectfully disagree with your assertion that parents should bring things to church to amuse their children. When kids are young, they experience church differently than adults, but this doesn’t mean that they are not encountering God in their own way. If you bring distractions, could it not teach the kids that church isn’t meant for them; that they just need to tolerate being there while their parents do their thing? I agree that parents need to practice discipline, so no one is hurt and property is not destroyed (as in the examples you provided); but I do think that it’s fine to let kids be kids in church. I see no problem with them walking around to look at icons; opening and closing hymnals, or asking questions. I think the parents who have misbehaving children in your examples should (instead of bringing distractions) teach their children that church is a holy place and a different type of behaviour is expected there.

      For the record, I don’t have any children and attend church regularly where there are a number of young kids.

      • Cat January 15, 2015, 7:19 pm

        I would have no problem with the behaviors you describe either. Looking at icons, if your church has those, is fine. Climbing on top of the votive candle holder is not. Opening and closing hymnals is a great way to look at books. Using a pen to deface them so they have to be discarded is not. Asking questions is what they should do if it is done quietly. Screaming and throwing things are not acceptable public behavior unless you are on a playground.
        If the parents were teaching the children the church is a holy place, the problems I am seeing would not be happening. What parents should do and what some of them actually do are not the same thing.
        Sometimes the children are too young to encounter God and need distractions until they gain in wisdom and understanding..

      • Margo January 16, 2015, 6:58 am

        I think this depends on the church and the nature of the service. I think that parents have an obligation to consider the other members of church, as well as how they introduce their own children to church and worship.

        Here, most churches have difference services – there will be a ‘family service’ where it’s expected that there will be people of all ages and where it’s accepted that there will be children who may make a bit of noise, move around or need to be taken out. The celebrant may invite children to sit at the front, or to come up and ask questions.

        A lot of churches have also started offering ‘Messy Church’ focussing on children and involving craft prijects as well as worship and teaching.

        There are other services which are not specifically geared at children or families, too.

        For Family services and messy church, the services adapt to the needs of the children, for other services, parents are expected to ensure that children behave appropriate l for church. Most churches I know have some resources for children – for instance, a selection of picture books of bible stories, and often a space where parents can sit with children which allow the children to sit on the floor, or to move around, rather than sitting in a pew, but without being overly distracting to the other members of the congregation.

        I think children wandering around and asking questions during a service could be very distracting, and I don’t think it is is appropriate in every case. Parents can arrange to bring their child to look around the church before or after a service, encourage them to learn that there are times when it is appropriate to be quiet, and to save questions for a later time, etc. To me, that is part of teaching a child that there are different rules about how to behave in different places – if it would not be appropriate for an adult to ask question or wander around the church in the middle of the service, it’s reasonable to teach the children that it isn’t appropriate, too. (and to teach them when it *is* Ok to look around and to ask questions.

        As with a theatre performance, you have to consider the other people, and that may mean that attending a full church service isn’t appropriate because it is too long for the child to sit through without getting bored or frustrated. For me, it is better to give the child something so they are not disturbing others, that to let them disrupt others even in the interests of their religious education.

      • Amanda H. January 16, 2015, 1:22 pm

        In addition to what the above commenters have said, a lot also depends on the nature of the activities used to distract the children.

        Our church activity bag is stocked with coloring pages (a nice quiet activity), most of which are church-themed. We also have a few of our church’s child-aimed magazines, and a book with church pictures for the kids to look at. Occasionally we also bring a kid-friendly picture book of scripture stories. And we scale it with the age of our children. As they get older, the distractions are geared more toward helping them pay attention (such as “church talk bingo,” with words to listen for during the meeting), until they’re old enough that they don’t need the activity bag anymore.

        I think it also helps in our case, at least, that the part of church that involves whole families is only for an hour. After that, the kids get to go to their own classes, which are definitely geared for individual age groups.

      • Angel January 16, 2015, 7:03 pm

        For very little ones (like under the age of 5) we used to bring our children’s version of the bible (it was a board book with pictures and some simple biblical passages). Or a religious coloring book. Now that the kids are older they can follow along in the hymnal. But little ones do need something to look at to keep them in the pews. I don’t like kids walking around in church during services, it is distracting and takes away from others’ experience. And it can be dangerous with all the candles and such. We used to take the kids out in the vestibule when they were little too if they really wouldn’t calm down. But you cannot expect the really little ones to just and look at stuff for the whole mass. And you can’t expect everybody to be fine with little ones walking around. They are there to worship too.

      • Goldie January 19, 2015, 8:48 am

        I’m going to hazard a guess that yours is a church with little or no sitting room. (The one we used to attend in our home country had maybe a dozen seats that were reserved for the elderly, disabled, pregnant etc.) In that case, it’s less disruptive to have young children walking around a church than when everyone’s sitting in pews (like it was in our church here).

    • Cecilia January 15, 2015, 1:01 pm

      When I was a teenager, there was a couple who would bring their child to the main sanctuary after bible study vs. letting her stay in the nursery or children’s church. They always had her decked out- beautiful velvet dresses, coordinated tights, polished Mary Jane’s, curled hair*, hair bows/ribbons or headbands. Once she got bored (which was quickly), the parents would let her get in the floor and *ROLL* under the pews. Seriously, this child would roll all the way up to the front pew and all the way back to the last pew. When she bumped people’s feet, they would move them or hold them up so she could pass. She always looked like she had been in a tornado by the time church was over. If she got bored of rolling, she would just roam around or run the aisle.

      One Sunday we had a visitor, a very nice, very elderly lady. She sat about 4 pews up from the last pew. Since she was not familiar with the rolling kid, when the child rolled into her cane, she was frightened that some kind of animal had gotten into the church and she started poking at it with her cane. It wasn’t until the 2nd poke she realized it was child when the little girl started wailing. Of course, everything stopped until it was all straightened out. When the parents tried to admonish the lady, she told them they needed to watch their child instead of letting her roll around the floor like a groundhog, bumping into people. She suggested they take advantage of the nursery until the child was old enough to sit in a seat, without causing distraction.

      * I complimented the little girls’ beautiful “natural” curls and the mom told me she rolled the child’s hair at night with those soft, bendable rollers and let her sleep in them. She said the ribbons, bows and headbands were “cuter” with curly hair.

    • Ergala January 15, 2015, 1:15 pm

      My church! And I LOVE it! There were a group of children that were all siblings at our old location. It didn’t matter where I sat the family would always sit right in front of me. The kids would fight, hit each other, be loud, whine…you name it. And They were old enough to know better. This went on for a few weeks when one day during sacrament they were REALLY off the wall. One of the older ladies from the church quietly stood up, entered my row that was nearly empty and leaned over and hissed “REVERENCE! NOW!” Those siblings sat down so fast that the chairs skid back a little.

      My youngest refuses to go to sunday school now and I think I figured out why. He has a bit of a potty mouth, I think he said something and got in trouble in front of the other kids and is embarrassed. I’m glad too! No matter what I do, ignore it, punish him….it wasn’t working. Another adult shames him for it and he stops.

      • nannerdoman January 16, 2015, 8:04 pm

        My church has a small selection of children’s Bible story books etc. on a table near the entrance. In addition, there are those little golf pencils and prayer-request cards in the pews, which double as art supplies for restless kids. It seems to work out well.

  • Ashley January 14, 2015, 12:42 pm

    I wish parents would teach their kids better, that things like the theater are privileges.

    I’m not blaming this generation of parents either, because when I was a kid I’d travel to Chicago and go to the theater with my aunt, and even as a child I remember being appalled at the behavior of some of the other children there. It’s nothing new, but I haven’t been to the theater in recent memory so I don’t know if it’s getting better or worse.

    Kudos to you for actually standing up to this woman, and for the woman behind you for helping. It’s sad that it was an issue in the first place.

  • lakey January 14, 2015, 1:29 pm

    It’s bad enough when six year olds are a problem, but sometimes adults aren’t much better. Our city has a beautiful, refurbished theater. Several years ago, we had a summer stock theater that had professional actors. If you remember when A&E network was “Arts and Entertainment”, this summer stock theater did a few musicals that were performed at this theater, videotaped live, and run on A&E. One of the musicals they did was “Nunsense”.

    There were 2 cameras in the theater recording the performance. You know how you aren’t supposed to enter the theater once the performance has resumed? Well, after the intermission, a couple came back in late and walked right in front of the lefthand camera which was in the left aisle fairly close to the stage. It wasn’t like they couldn’t see that the camera was there. You should have seen the look on the cameraman’s face. Fortunately, they did two performances like this, so they were able to edit it together without this showing.

  • delislice January 14, 2015, 2:55 pm

    How do you tune out two hours of up, down, up, down before the intermission? Much less the feet-on-the-stranger.

    For me, I would have whispered to Mom ONE time, “Please help your daughter sit still,” and then it would have been a summons to the usher. And I would have expected the usher to be politely firm about telling Mom that if the child couldn’t keep still, they’d be asked to move.

    • Calli Arcale January 15, 2015, 12:45 pm

      When I was in high school, I helped usher at a local children’s theater to raise money for my marching band. (We did a lot of stuff like that; some local business would donate a chunk of money in exchange for us providing a pile of volunteers. My favorite ones were those at the local department store, because it gave us a look into how retail really operates. They had us doing inventory, restocking, putting security tags on stuff, and so forth. It was fun.) The theater is not a small community theater; it’s a big professional organization known nationally with a strong acting company and the ability to pull in big-name guests. In the back of the theater is a “crying room” where parents are expected to take their children who can’t sit still; it’s soundproof, but a microphone in the house feeds the sound to a speaker inside so you can still enjoy the play. There are low lights for kids who might be scared of the dark, and it’s accessed from outside the door so that noise from the crying room cannot get into the house. We were expected to advise people with small children of the presence of the crying room; the actual paid ushers took care of actually shooing people into it if their kids were becoming disruptive.

      Not all theaters can have a crying room like that, but it got regular use there and was great for families with babies and also for autistic kids who may be afraid of the dark or are just unable to sit still for the whole production.

      • NostalgicGal January 17, 2015, 12:03 am

        My hometown had a WPA built movie theater, and the locals chipped in to get the best sound system available at the time (it was one of those considered for the world premiere of Fantasia). In the back up the stairs was the Crying Room. A well insulated glass box that was cantilevered out like a balcony; had some seats and a few speakers in it, and some concrete surfaced steps to step down into it on the side. If you had to you could get about a dozen in there, including using the steps to sit, but. It was soundproof to the outside world, and if you had fussy baby or wild toddler it was great. Sometimes I went up there just because of the view… I wished more theaters had those. A disasterproof soundproof balcony you could herd all the loud ones (or those now glued to their little screens) so they can’t bother those that WANT to sit there.

  • just4kicks January 14, 2015, 3:36 pm

    My kids aren’t perfect angels, but they know they have to behave in public, complete with manners.
    One day we were out to breakfast, and the kids at the table next to us were such little brats. I’m not talking about kids who are bored waiting for their meal….throwing stuff, purposely knocking over drinks, etc. Their parents had both of their noses buried in the newspaper. My daughter, who was maybe five at the time, was watching these kids and said to me (in a typical five year old very loud “whisper”) “Mommy! Those kids are NOT acting nice!!!” I didn’t comment on the billions, but did say “YOU are behaving VERY well! I’m very proud that you’re acting like a little lady today!”
    That got me a dirty look over the top of the newspaper.
    Our waitress heard us and commented on how well behaved all four of my kids were, and “what a delight it is to serve such polite young children!” …..with a pointed look over to the other table.

  • just4kicks January 14, 2015, 3:37 pm

    …..that was supposed to be “hellions”…..NOT billions…..Oops.

    • hakayama January 14, 2015, 6:19 pm

      @just4kicks: Thank you for the giggle I had reading the original phrasing, but otherwise no biggie there. If a past president was allegedly badly befuddled by “Brazilians” vs. billions, the rest of us are definitely entitled to an unfocused moment. In the case of that prez, the condition was somewhat chronic. 😉

      • just4kicks January 15, 2015, 3:40 am

        @hakayama: ….Oops! …And taken that “a Brazilian” has a few meanings these days, much confusion could ensue. 🙂

  • Marozia January 14, 2015, 3:38 pm

    That’s typical of some people! That woman and her child were entitled snowflake drama llamas!
    Good for you for keeping a polite spine and speaking up.

  • KarenD January 14, 2015, 3:53 pm

    The seat-saving issue, to me, is a red herring.

    The offender here was the woman trying to claim seats that already had people in them! (And then of course allowing her child to misbehave dreadfully.) That’s not seat-saving. That’s seat-stealing. A felony vs. a misdemeanor.

    The OP was courteous enough to shift down, even though the request was worded incredibly impolitely. I will do the same thing if it doesn’t inconvenience me (for example, there is a particular seat in most stadium-style movie theaters that I prefer because it has a railing in front of it rather than another seat. If I’m in a railing seat, I won’t shift over. I got there early specifically in hopes of getting that particular seat.) But under no circumstances will I move to a seat further back or in a less-desirable spot just because someone tells me they want the seat I’m already occupying.

    • Anna January 14, 2015, 9:06 pm

      “I got there early specifically in hopes of getting that particular seat. But under no circumstances will I move to a seat further back or in a less-desirable spot just because someone tells me they want the seat I’m already occupying.”

      This happened to me in a movie theater a few months ago. A woman and her husband came in a few minutes before the start time, scanned the many available seats, and then asked my friend and me to move. I said no, I liked that seat and that’s why I sat in it. They huffed, kept asking, and I kept saying no, and pointed out the available seats directly next to, in front and back of the seats we were sitting in. ‘We don’t want to sit in those,’ they said. Then the husband said to his wife ‘Well, she’s just ornery.’ They had to settle for seats a row in front of us, since they spent so long complaining that the other seat options became occupied.

      Just unbelievable.

      • JO January 15, 2015, 6:11 am

        “We don’t want to sit in those.”
        I would have looked right at them and said, “neither do I.”
        Nothing like a bit of logic to take the wind out of someone’s sails 😉 good for you for not moving!

      • Yet Another Laura January 15, 2015, 9:48 am

        Good for you for refusing to move. When I sit down in a seat I chose or a desirable reserved seat, my default answer to “Will you move?” is no. Unless they can prove to me that they must sit there and nowhere else, the answer is always no.

        I’m pigheaded that way.

      • Kimstu January 15, 2015, 10:55 am

        One way to deflect the seat-moochers (sometimes) is to keep pleasantly saying “No, thank you” as part of your firm refusal to move. As if you thought that they were trying to do you a favor but you’re politely declining it.

        “Would you move over so we can sit here?” “Oh, no thanks, I’m fine here, I like this seat.” “But there are plenty of other seats you could move to, and we want to sit here.” “Thanks anyway, but really, it’s okay; I got here early and had plenty of time to find the seat I wanted, and I’m fine staying here.”

        This tends to confuse them and they give up. Also, it keeps the tone light and courteous instead of turning into an etiquette duel to the death over one’s right to the chosen seat.

      • KarenD January 15, 2015, 11:40 am

        Yeah, it’s happened to me more than a few times, but I still have that jaw-gaping moment where I look at them and think, “Really? Really, you’re entitled to the seat I am currently occupying just because … you want it? And then they insulted you on top of it. Wow. Some people. …

        (I will give that particular seat up to someone with a legit injury, by the way. I know it’s going to hurt much less at the end of a two-hour movie if they can prop it up.)

        • delislice January 18, 2015, 2:44 pm

          The only seat-saving I do in crowded movie theaters is where, once we’ve got our tickets torn, I’ll go in and sit down, reserving the seat next to me while my husband gets refreshments. But never more than that one, and how long he takes depends on the length of the concession line.

  • technobabble January 14, 2015, 4:09 pm

    People above me have already said this, but it was poor form of the woman to put her young child at the end of the group. DH has four younger siblings (two sets of twins, 9 years old and 8 years old). One of the older girls has special needs that make it difficult for her to sit quietly for the entirety of a movie/play/etc. Whenever we take the little ones to a performance or show of any kind that involves sitting among other people, you’re darn right we put the children in between us so we can keep an eye on them and remind/reprimand accordingly.

  • EchoGirl January 14, 2015, 4:28 pm

    If children can behave reasonably well, I have no problem with taking them to an age-appropriate performance. I saw my first play when I was seven, and while I’m sure I wasn’t perfectly still (even as an adult, I’m one of those people who is usually in motion in some way) but I never would have done what this girl did. (What I did do was fall in love with the art of theater there and then.) But if kids can’t show some reasonable level of behavior, they shouldn’t be allowed to ruin the experience for everyone else.

  • MyWorld January 14, 2015, 5:55 pm

    My husband and I were foster parents for over 20 years. Kids in our home knew that going out, be it to theatre or to dinner (not a place where your dinner came on a plate not a tray or in a bag) was a privilage. Good manners, dressing up and sitting quietly were requirements not options. Since we made these rules very clear before we went, we seldom had problems. When we did however, the offending child was quickly removed to the lobby or car with an adult and stayed there until they assured us that they could behave.
    One of my pet peeves are parents that let their kids run wild in stores pulling down displays and opening packages. Again, children in our home knew that unless you had money in your pocket and intend to buy an item, you don’t touch or you don’t get to go to the store next time.
    Sorry parents but you are not doing your child any favors by not teaching them proper behavior.

    • NostalgicGal January 15, 2015, 12:33 pm

      When I worked a big box, we had several ‘regulars’ that would come in, give kid or kids toys and let them play with them until they left. They would pile the opened and damaged toys somewhere, or go in the TV and Stereo display enclosure/alcove and dump them on the far side of the stereo carrel. We had to 605 a lot of them (too damaged to be repackaged and sold). Security caught one notorious batch back in the carrel one time, after I heard them say ‘okay kids, we’re leaving, put them down here’ and were indignant to be marched off to deal with paying for the stuff that was opened.

      Last time I went shopping in a big box, I had half unloaded my cartful and a woman with three kids put cart in aisle and darted down to get a few things. Middle child was about 3, and took a toy out of the cart and handed it to the checker saying ‘I want this’. Checker looks at me, confused, I took it from him, said to her ‘Your turn will be just a moment, let me put it right here.’ and I put the bar on the belt and laid it behind my stuff. She did this a few more times, taking stuff from the aisle (candy, gum) and doing the same thing. I would take it from the checker and put it on the belt. Her mom showed up and seen the stuff sitting there and was mortified as the girl did it again, and I just took the item from the checker and put it on the belt. Not that I was interacting with her precious; but that the girl had picked up all that stuff. There was a meltdown when mom started putting stuff back, but. At least the packages weren’t opened and the little girl had the right idea, it had to be paid for first! The other two kids, one stood hanging onto the front of the cart, the other was sitting in the seat, and just watched…

      Oh yes, in the store as a small, my hands were in pockets or the ‘hold hands behind your back’, unless you were going to BUY that item and had permission or money in your pocket to do so, no touching! It was never EVER opened unless adult did it to check for parts etc, until you got to the register, paid for it, and left the store.

      • Amanda H. January 16, 2015, 1:29 pm

        YES, that is definitely one thing I teach my kids. Nothing gets opened, nothing gets eaten or used, until I’ve paid for it. And if I say “no,” it’s not “you’re never going to get this,” it’s just “not today, kiddo.” Thankfully I have yet to have a meltdown when I tell my kids we aren’t getting a specific treat on a given day, because they’ve learned that they do occasionally get treats and it’s not the end of the world for Mommy to say “no.”

        At least the girl in your anecdote tried to pay for them.

    • Annie January 16, 2015, 12:12 pm

      I saw a small child pulling down bags of chocolate chips at the grocery store and stomping on them, with shrieks of glee. His mother was down the aisle, ignoring him. I told him to knock it off, and he looked terrified and stopped. I’ve noticed that poorly-behaved children respond well to direct orders when they’re young. I’m not sure if it’s just fear of strangers, or if it’s the first time they’ve ever been told “no.”

  • MyWorld January 14, 2015, 5:56 pm

    oops! I meant where your dinner came on a plate not a tray or in a bag!

  • NostalgicGal January 14, 2015, 6:19 pm

    Hence I’ve given up on going to live performances of anything any more. School bit, friends’ kids in it; people next to me doing that ‘oh we need X seats and they’re coming’ and I stayed where I was, they didn’t show, the one next to me had a two year old that didn’t want to stay in seat and had flu and barfed while sitting on mom’s knee getting my leg too. No apology or anything; I just got up and left; and got the flu 4 days later and my DH two days after that. I can stream the movie on my computer or TV and they’ve taped good productions of some stage performed stuff… I’m a bigger fan these days of staying home. Yep, I gave up. No I don’t have kids or grandkids to support; so I can give it up and stay home now.

    I agree with the six year old was parked there on purpose, and the mom’s indignation about her child being SPOKEN to while mom is there, about keeping feet to self, is a cake topper.

  • ColoradoCloudy January 14, 2015, 6:54 pm

    This is why I have all but stopped going out to live performances and movies. My son is a high school actor, and at his last play, the grandchildren of the director were right behind us. They whispered, they occasionally shrieked, they jumped up and down, they kicked the seats, they went in and out of the back auditorium doors. I stood it all until one of them hit me in the back of the head, at which point I turned and said “SIT DOWN” in a loud stage whisper. The parents did NOTHING. Despairing of being able to enjoy the show, I moved before the second act. This is the world today.

  • Ames January 14, 2015, 8:04 pm

    My first ever encounter with theatre of any kind was seeing The Lion King in the West End this year on a holiday.

    The show is quite well known so they had a lot of international school groups. The sad thing was, they weren’t seated together, rather dotted around the theatre. The teachers chose to all sit together, leaving large groups of teenaged children unsupervised. The group that were behind us were awful. They spoke, played on phones, kicked seats, laughed, swore and were generally just really unpleasant.

    Twenty minutes into the show, I left to complain. They got a warning. They stopped for all of about 20 minutes and then started going again. My partner shot me a look to tell me to stay in my seat and not go to complain again (it’s one of his traits that I cannot stand). We paid a fortune for these seats out of our travel budget, so this show was ruined for me at least. The women next to us were no doubt in the same boat and kept turning around to shush them. Not that it made a difference.

    Some people just like to ruin it for others, regardless of their age.

  • ergala January 14, 2015, 11:23 pm

    Funny yet sad story about seat saving. When Avatar came out in iMax. Seating was pretty much spoken for due to ticket sales and they made an announcement that there would be NO seat saving. A woman, her teenage son and their friend/family member sat behind my husband and I. The son got up to get popcorn and what not before the movie started. He left his jacket on his seat in between his mom and the other woman. Well a lady came in with her friends, saw the empty seat and promptly marched up to it, picked up the jacket and hucked it at the mother. The mother immediately said that that was her son’s seat to with the lady responded back as she sat down and crossed her arms “NO SEAT SAVING!” It became really heated as the mother explained that her son was getting popcorn. The lady was refusing to move and both women began to yell at each other. The lady’s friend was begging her to just come find another seat. It got to the point where I almost stood up with my crutches and separated them….fists were about to fly and everyone was starting to panic. Needless to say the son came back as did an usher. As the lady got up to leave when she realized she was NOT going to win she called the mother a certain c word. Classy.

    • Goldie January 15, 2015, 9:26 am

      My goodness, is it possible to be any more confused about what seat-saving means than this lady was? Did she really understand it to mean “if you get up to go to the bathroom, by the time you come back your seat will be gone”?

    • Devin January 15, 2015, 10:37 am

      While that is extreme, I have been to a theatre for a pack house movie and not been able to find a seat though we had bought advanced tickets. We returned to the lobby to get an usher to help us, either find us seats or refund our money if the show was over sold. We weren’t the only ones in this boat. The usher had the lights turned back up and announced that everyone using the ‘extra’ seat between groups for coat/purses must remove their belongings. Suddenly there was a dozen empty seats. Everyone in the theatre had to have pre-purchased tickets because the show was sold out days before the movie opening. Did they really think there would be extra seats for their personal belongings? By the time the previews were rolling every seat was occupied.

      • NostalgicGal January 17, 2015, 12:19 am

        I’m only half surprised nobody argued that the purse had a ticket… (shakes head).

        Good that they enforced getting the seats emptied and put into their intended use.

        Years back I used to live on a bus line and taking my (and my neighbor’s) cats to the vet was a mile via bus on a Saturday. I would pay three fares, one for me and one for each carrier, and ask for transfer slips. They could be asked for whether or not they were used but they would only be issued for a paid fare. Then put a slip on each carrier. Then I could put them on seats as they were fare paying passengers… and the slips proved it. I only was asked once to move a carrier, there was plenty of other seating, and I politely pointed out the carrier had paid a fare so it could use the seat. The person found another seat without issue. (It would have been fun, Devin, if someone had insisted their purse or coat had a right to the seat and producing a ticket for it… heh)

    • Asharah January 15, 2015, 12:50 pm

      So this woman came in with friends, and decided to park herself between two other people she didn’t know just to make a point? Some people are idiots.

    • Cecilia January 15, 2015, 1:15 pm

      Movie theaters are quickly becoming the worst. Where I work, a group of us had a tradition of going to see the newest “Paranormal Activity” when it came out, which was usually around Halloween. The last time we went, I was running late so I ended up not getting to sit with the group and got seated beside a group of teenaged girls. They alternated between screaming when nothing scary was happening to talking (not whispering, just carrying on a conversation) to texting. After about 45 minutes of this, I turned to them during a quiet scene and said “Are you all going to talk and text during the entire movie? If you want to socialize, leave so the rest of us can enjoy the movie we paid for”. A man down front yelled “Hell yes!”. They shut up, but kept passing a phone amongst themselves.

    • Ames January 15, 2015, 8:36 pm

      I feel pretty relieved now to know that the cinema we frequent requires you to pick a seat when you book the tickets online or at the desk (they have a little map and you point to the area you want to sit and they see if there are any left from the pre-purchased ones). You still get people who sit in others seats, especially when you see them turfed out and they traipse back to the worst seats in the cinema- I guess they’re either (A) rude enough to think they will get away with it or (B) hopeful that the people who booked the seats won’t actually show up.

  • doodlemor January 15, 2015, 1:22 am

    There is an historic amphitheater in a summer arts colony near us that seems to have many entitled adults. [Children are seldom present at these performances.]

    The amphitheater has long, pew like benches instead of seats, and this greatly contributes to the seating problems. It is also general admission, and many people line up several hours before the gates open to get a seat in the section that they prefer. The capacity of the facility is about 5,000 people, so there are generally a number of empty benches/sections unless the act is something very famous, like The Beach Boys.

    DH and I have seen many people wait until the last few minutes before a performance, and then try to make others squash together against each other on a bench so that they can sit in a specific location.

    The last time we went there the air temperature was 90 degrees F, and it was very humid. DH and I were seated on the aisle, and a man came and sat between us and the next group of people. There was room for about a person and a half to sit without touching either me or the nearest person in the groups on the other end of the bench.

    After he sat down the man called his wife on his phone to let her know of his location, and then told us – “my wife is coming.” I assumed that he meant that the rest of us were supposed to squash together. At this point I counted the empty benches in the entirely empty sections, and found that there were at least 500 empty seats – probably more.

    The guy’s wife came from the other end of the long benches, past at least a dozen people at that end of the benches, and sat down beside him. At that point the performance started, and the man started pressing his thigh against mine to make me move over a bit. I just ignored the whole thing, but it spoiled the first part of the opera for me. His wife left after just a few minutes, climbing over the whole group of people again, instead of just over her husband, me, and DH.

    At that point the guy gave up on his passive aggression, and moved to the middle of the space that he had, and we enjoyed the rest of the performance. I’m not sure if this is ehell approved or not, but I did later think that perhaps when he was pushing on me I should have said in a slightly raised voice “Stop touching me like that.”

    Next time, if people try to push into a space between us and another group that is too small for their group I think that I will politely point out all of the extra seats still available.

    • Ant January 15, 2015, 8:31 am

      I agree with the entitled adults comment and have seen some dreadful behaviour from “grown ups”. But my favourite tale is more about rudeness than any aggression/threats/violence.
      It happened when my mother took me took me to my sisters music recital. This was the year the head of music specifically assigned seats (max 2 per child in the concert) in the front rows due to previous issues with parents behaviour i.e. the usual moaning, bullying and families taking over rows etc. Anyway my mother had an injured leg, crutches and me (at the time 5 years old) so specifically requested the aisle seat near the door so she could stretch out and, if required, nip out with me.
      When we arrived at the performance there was another woman in the front seat by the door. Weirdly there was a reservation notice on the seat next to her and at the other end of the aisle for my mother. So my mother went to see the head of music. He went and picked up the note at the end aisle and walked over to the seated woman and asked her why she had reassigned the seating (she had evidently swapped her own note with my mother’s).
      She explained that she had requested the end of the front row and “corrected the issue”.
      The head of music pointed out that my mother required this seat near the door due to her condition and small child.
      The lady made a comment about her own condition and the need to get up and stretch her legs every now and then.
      The music teacher pointed out there was ample room to the left of stage to stretch in or she could walk laps to the back of the room without causing a significant disturbance to others.
      And the bit I really remember:
      The lady argued that “I should have this seat as I might need to really stretch my legs by walking to the bathroom or water fountain.”
      The music teacher replied without missing a beat “…Or outside and down to the coffee shop or home?”
      The woman turned red and moved to the left end. I found out later that this woman had a reputation of only really watching her daughters performance. This involved either turning up for the start and going to the coffee shop (who’s owner knew the head of music really well). Or, if her daughter was on early, nipping out early and dragging her daughter home (apparently one time she sat a read a book rather than watching the show). The year I mention was the first assigned seating so she was not prepared and was forced to watch the first half as there was no way to get out without walking in front of everyone or out of an alarmed fire door (lucky for the performers she didn’t want to be seen to be rude/leaving). As her daughter was in the first half I need not mention she disappeared before the second half. Also my mother kept an eye on her and insists she never got up once to stretch her legs.

    • burgerking January 15, 2015, 9:26 am

      its difficult to sit on bench seating when people insist on sitting in the aisle and it’s hard for people to get to the middle. Then you don’t know how many actual seats are in the middle until you sit down. That happened at a recent concert that I went to where it was a very long bench and people were sitting on the aisle and didn’t want to get up so we could get over them- it was like doing acrobats trying to jump over those people’s laps to get to the seats in the middle.

      • doodlemor January 16, 2015, 1:03 am

        This guy knew exactly how much room there was, because the space was only 3 – 4 feet from the end, and it was still daylight. We did move out for him to get in, also. He apparently just wanted to sit where he wanted to sit, but didn’t want to come early to claim the spot.

    • Goldie January 15, 2015, 9:42 am

      Eww! I hope it’s ehell approved. His wife probably wouldn’t have taken kindly to him cuddling up to you, even if it’s supposedly for her benefit.

    • Julia January 15, 2015, 1:34 pm

      I believe I know just the place to which you are referring. It’s a nice place to walk around – during the off season!

      • doodlemor January 16, 2015, 1:00 am

        Are you thinking of a place that is in the middle of controversy about building a new amphitheater? That would be the spot. We like to walk around and look at the gardens in the off season, too.

      • doodlemor January 16, 2015, 1:05 am

        I think that it would have been embarrassing for him, because he seemed to be a professional of some sort. My DH knew what was going on, but might have felt that he needed to glare if I had said something.

  • Christine January 15, 2015, 7:14 am

    Starting at about age 6 to age 17, my grandmother started purchasing season tickets to our local (but large and award-winning) theater for me and my brothers for Christmas. I don’t ever remember getting reprimanded for our behavior, because we were taught how to act in the theater and the consequences we’d face at home if we didn’t. I am very much against the “kids should only go to kid shows” mentality. Because of those season tickets I got exposed to a world that I still have a love for to this day. Was I bored during some of the shows? Oh god yes (South Pacific was a particularly dragging one for me). But I learned to love the theater and loved being exposed to “adult” things I normally wouldn’t have (Le Cage aux Folles!). So while I think age 6 is really the youngest a child can learn to sit still for 2+ hours and perhaps should be the cutoff for theater events, I don’t think they should be excluded.

  • Goldie January 15, 2015, 9:41 am

    I have a story that took place at a local theater during my older son’s graduation. Because my son was in his class’ top ten, and a National Merit finalist, our family got tickets to sit in a special area designated for these kids’ families, and the families of the kids that were speaking at the graduation, in the front 3-4 rows of the balcony. The balcony had a bit more of an amphitheater kind of seating than the first floor; with each next row being quite a bit higher than the previous. We had five tickets, for me, my parents, my other son, and my ex-husband. My dad was running late so we left an empty seat for him and took the other four. A group of young girls in their maybe early 20s comes in and sits behind us. I thought nothing of it, until I turned to say something to my mom and there was a bare foot inches from my face! The girl behind me was sitting with her one leg kind of crossed and her foot resting on her other knee – hard to describe, but hopefully you all know what I mean.

    Well I thought this was gross and unhygienic, so I nicely asked the girl to please put her foot down, so it’s not so close to my head. She doesn’t acknowledge me in any way, doesn’t move, and continues sitting there with her foot in my face. So I stared her in the eyes, and pointed at the floor. She then put her foot on the floor, I said thank you, but couple of minutes later, her foot was in my face again. At that point I just gave up and moved to the seat we’d reserved for Dad. (He was very late to the ceremony and found a seat elsewhere.)

    At my other son’s graduation ceremony this past year, he was a bit lower on the class ranking and didn’t get the special seats for his family, so we sat in the general area with all other parents. I’m happy to report that this time, everyone around us was nice, polite, and kept their body parts to themselves!

    • NostalgicGal January 17, 2015, 12:26 am

      If I was snarkier after the foot reappeared, I might have taken out the fingernail polish and homed in on her foot. “well, you put it up here, AGAIN, so I thought you wanted ‘Flaming Hot Purple Mango’ toenails….” (but that can open a whole new can of worms so… just mentioning it’s something for snarkville)

  • JD January 15, 2015, 12:06 pm

    I think I’ve had more trouble with adults in theaters, but then, I don’t go to kids-oriented programs now that my kids are grown. However, years ago, my husband went along with our daughter for the fourth grade trip to a children’s play put on in a historic old theater in a city a few hours from here. The teachers who chaperoned her grade had instructed the kids from her school on how to behave, and her group did fine, as did most of the other school groups from various schools. However, one group from another school, sitting in the balcony, had chaperones who were deliberately ignoring their charges, because the kids in the balcony started laughing, hooting and throwing candy wrappers, popcorn, pencils and spit balls on the kids below, including my daughter’s class, during the play. The theater staff tried to get the teachers upstairs to stop the kids, but the kids started again as soon as the staff left the balcony. One of my daughter’s teachers finally went up to the balcony, chewed those kids AND their teachers out and stayed up there standing and glaring at them all until the play was over, which made the bad behavior end then and there. The funny part was that before he went up there, the kids in the balcony had run out of junk and had resorted to throwing change! My daughter collected over a dollar in change in her lap. So not only were those kids in the balcony ill-mannered little hooligans, they threw their own money away, which I consider to be a sweet form of justice.

  • Asharah January 15, 2015, 12:54 pm

    “To her credit, the woman did try and keep the child somewhat settled for the second half. But midway through, the child needed to use the restroom, and they couldn’t get out of the row. So she started screaming. ” I need to go!””
    I think an essential of potty training is teaching a child how to say she has to go in public without announcing it to the entire room.

  • Anne January 15, 2015, 9:48 pm

    I’ve experienced out-of-control children in theaters before, but even they’re topped by the behaviour of teens at the last movie I went to. The theater was mostly empty (there were maybe two or three other people beside our group of three), and right after the film started a group of two mid-teen boys and three girls came in and sat right in front of us. Obviously the movie turned out to not be to their taste, because after about ten minutes they all got out their phones and started texting and taking selfies (!) —- which caused bright lights to shine directly in our faces, seeing as we were behind them. They also wrestled each other playfully and chatted the whole time, and, at one, point, had a loud food fight with two bags of Skittles.

    At one point I asked them to quiet down, and they did for maybe five minutes with giggling and furtive looks back at us every time. Then they were back to their usual tricks. We would have moved, but we were in the farthest-back row of one bank of seats (we were with my mother, who dislikes loud noises, and the speakers were in the front of the theater) and there was a fellow sitting in the middle of the other side’s back row, so we’d have to either sit directly beside him or ask him to move if we wanted to move there. We ended up sticking it out, but it was truly unpleasant and we ended up missing a great deal of the dialogue. Sigh.

    • Cecilia January 16, 2015, 11:49 am

      I mentioned up-thread, movie theaters are becoming the worst. I had the unpleasant experience of being sat beside teenagers who were more interested in chatting and their phones than watching the movies. Another time, my children & I were seated beside a grown man & him mom, and he had to repeat the entire dialogue because his mom was hard of hearing. My son (about 10) shushed him a few times but he never “shushed”.

      I went to see the latest Godzilla movie at midnight last year when it came out. My friend & I were the only 2 in the entire theater and the staff gave us free popcorn and sodas! It was the best movie I have ever been to!

  • Enna January 16, 2015, 12:32 pm

    Good for you OP for sticking up for yourself. If a parent can’t control his/her children then they have no cause to complain when the child gets called out by someone.

  • Angel January 16, 2015, 6:53 pm

    I have a six-year-old and I would have been MORTIFIED if she behaved that way during a play performance. I haven’t taken her to a lot of plays–just ones for school trips and one for a friend whose daughter was in the play. She is pretty good about sitting still but she has her moments. But a child who can’t sit still at all throughout the play?? I have to wonder if the mom wasn’t egging her on a little bit. Six is plenty old enough to sit through most of a performance. In any case the mom should have taken her out at least at intermission and spoken to her sternly. That kind of behavior just isn’t acceptable and if you truly can’t control your child you need to keep your child home until they are old enough to behave themselves.

    • MPW1971 January 17, 2015, 5:18 pm

      The entitlement for purchased tickets is one thing, but having seen people rudely and angrily reserve a whole pew at church for a baptism – and not even a pew in the first row – was the height of rudeness. It was a small church – there was enough seating for everyone if they sat “normally”, but reserving a pew with room for 9, for only 4 people and a baby, is completely uncalled for.
      Over the years I’ve had people on airplanes demand to change seats with me – I choose a window seat because I sit down, sleep, and don’t get up during the flight. I politely recommend that they choose their seat more carefully next time.
      The entitlement doesn’t improve but only gets worse when people become affluent. Some of the worst behavior I ever saw while travelling, was a group of private school students heading to Europe for a vacation – basically crawling all over other passengers in the departure lounge. I voiced my concerns and in seconds, airline staff made the request for them to be quiet – when that didn’t work, security arrived. Entitlement abruptly disappeared.

      • Angel January 26, 2015, 3:07 pm

        You have just described my worst pet peeve–people who take up double the space they are supposed to in close quarters! Some people are just clueless. But some people really feel like they are entitled to that extra space even if it means kicking people out. And because most people are not out for a confrontation, these jerks continue to get away with bad behavior. But usually all it takes is for one fed-up person to speak up. We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. Lol. Okay not really–still mad. 😉

  • EchoGirl January 18, 2015, 1:31 pm

    I think the fact that this is a kid is, frankly, only incidental to the story. I work as a crew member on a number of university and community productions, and I’ve seen many, many examples of adults behaving this badly or worse.

    1. I was working on a University production of the show “Cloud 9” (not a children’s show at all and as far as I know no kids in the audience) and I was wearing a radio headset, which is the primary mode of communication between crew in different parts of the theater. An actress comes offstage and she’s fuming. As soon as she sees my headset, she asks me to call the House Manager (the person in charge of dealing with the audience). For what, you ask? There was someone in the front row who was *on a laptop*. Now, I know there will always be a portion of the audience at these things who has to see the show for a class and would rather be somewhere else, but this doesn’t excuse them from basic rules of courtesy to the performers. (This was the same weekend where someone wandered onto the stage during intermission and had to be escorted off by the crew.)

    2. At a community show I was hired to work merchandise sales for, a woman in the audience had gotten extremely intoxicated and began shouting at the stage in the middle of the second act. Thankfully, her husband caught on and removed her before the ushers had to.

    3. Back when I was in a high school summer program, in one of the last productions I ever acted in (I got into crew shortly thereafter and discovered I was both better at it and enjoyed it more) we had a bit of a pre-show setup where some of the actors were already sitting on the stage while the audience was coming in. On both nights of the performance, we had parents of the actors (not the same people both nights) walk right onto the stage and start trying to talk to their children. I credit the teenage actors greatly with staying in character through all of this as some of the program staff arrived to escort the parents to their seats.

    And these are just the ones that stand out! I’m certain there are more that just weren’t quite so memorable.

    • MPW January 20, 2015, 4:12 pm

      Is it possible that a critic – someone whose job it is to review a play – be using a laptop during the show to make notes? Could this be permitted under any kind of theater etiquette? (I’m asking here – and certainly the person doing this should not be in the front row.)

      • EchoGirl February 9, 2015, 8:22 pm

        I’d have to say no. Apart from the impression of not paying attention, it messes with the lighting effects. And even if they’re sitting in the very back row they could still bother someone just with the sound of typing or the spillover light.