Movies with Mia: Beauty and the Beast
[Editor's Note: This will be a sporadic feature detailing the experience of taking my 3-year-old, Mia, to the movies. This inaugural post will be a bit longer, since it was her first time and there is plenty of backstory to be told.]
If you've listened to our latest podcast episode, you'll hear my exciting news: I took Mia to the movie theater for the first time! Needless to say, it's a day I had been anticipating for quite some time. We originally had the big event planned for Brave's release in June, but as I was browsing the local offerings, I noticed our second-run theater on the other side of the river had the re-release of Beauty and the Beast.
Mia's like any other preschooler: she latches on to a movie and watches it repeatedly until her parents are ready to stuff the disc in the garbage disposal. Her first attachment came summer of last year with the animated Shakespearean retelling Gnomeo & Juliet. Then we moved on to the 1985 Sesame Street classic Follow That Bird. Soon her love for Dora the Explorer hit and it was all about streaming episodes of Dora on Netflix and nothing else would do.
Sometime after the New Year (her 3rd birthday), she started asking for Beauty and the Beast regularly and suddenly it was her favorite movie. So seeing that Beauty and the Beast was at the cheap theater, I had idea: why not use this as a practice run? It suddenly made more sense to take her to a movie she already loves. We knew it wouldn't scare her or leave her asking a million questions of who certain character were and what was happening. And if all went horribly wrong and we had to leave early, we only wasted a 20 minute drive and $3 a ticket, instead of $7.25 each at the local multiplex. And that $3 is actually pricey for the second run theater only because the movie was in 3D; normally first screening matinees would be $1 a ticket.
After debating whether or not the 3D would cause issues, Brad and I decided that the noon screening on Sunday was our destination, and we built it up to be a huge deal to her. She didn't know what "going to the movies" was, but she became very excited when we mentioned it and was on her best behavior so she wouldn't miss out.
So after buying our tickets, purchasing our snacks and enduring a lot of excitable exclamations of "my movie! my movie!" we finally took our seats...and encountered our first obstacle. This older theater did not provide the luxury of stadium seating. Not only that, but our poor 25-pound child was being eaten by her seat, slipping further into the crack. So it was into Dad's lap she went, which we hesitated on since she usually has a low threshold for laps. But as long as she had her hand in the popcorn bucket, she was satisfied.
Eventually the lights went down and the screen lit up. While enduring several trailers for other kids' films and a Tangled short, Mia started getting antsy. "Where's Belle?!" This is when the ssshhhing started. Thankfully we were blessed by sharing the theater with only a few other families, all spread relatively far apart. So she wasn't necessarily bothering anyone else, but we wanted her to understand that talking during a movie is just rude. We're trying to insure the kid displays manners, even if she sometimes fails to do so.
But then the feature started and her face lit up at all her familiar characters and songs, and it was relatively smooth sailing. After two large buckets of popcorn, one large soda, and several rounds of take-the-3D-glasses-off-put-the-3D-glasses-on, the credits rolled and she immediately asked for "another episode."
She did talk a bit during the first half hour, but eventually got the hint and ended up sssshhhing me at a point of laughter later in the film. The kid's a sponge sometimes. All in all, I'd say we had a major success for our first time to the movies. The next time will be a new challenge with a different theater and an unfamiliar film, but it's a challenge for another day. For now I'll just relish this one small victory.