Toddler + Movie Theatre = Challenge

MovieTheaterJob_HWell, challenge accepted.  Damn $6 Tuesdays at the movies (check your local regal cinemas).  I love a great deal and it is hard to pass up great movies on the big screen for $6 all day long.  I usually take my daughter to see a good show once a month but, this month, I decided to take Justin.  Did I mention that he is in the terrible two-phase (Lord, let it be just a phase).  Anyway, it was raining, he was irritable because he didn’t take a nap beforehand, and my daughter wanted everything she saw at the concession stand.  To summarize, this is how it went:

Scene 1: We enter the multiplex, my 13-year-old daughter says that she has to use the restroom and will get some things from the concession stand. I hand her my credit card (big mistake) and she runs off.

Scene 2:  I struggle with my flailing two-year old and find a spot where he will not annoy any surrounding viewers.  The lights dim, the music from the previews start, and now Justin is in fear for his life.  Why is it dark?  Why is loud?  He cries and jumps into my lap and holds onto me for dear life.

Scene 3:  We sit like this patiently until his sister returns with two huge drinks, chocolate covered raisins, a large popcorn, and sweet and sour cabbage patch kids or we could just say $30 in the hole.

Scene 4:  Justin calms down because his sister is there and he sits between us but, I think he is only calm because he sees food and a huge coke (which he refuses to let sit in the cup holder in the arm rest but instead must hold it in his little lap).

Scene 5:  The movie starts and everything is going okay…. at least for an hour.  The last half hour Justin decides that he would like to ask a lot of questions really loudly during the movie, stand up and dance, move around, cry out when we say no to his demands, and spill food on the floor.  My daughter and I block him in by placing our legs up to the chair in front of us so that he is trapped ( I like to call this unconventional parenting).

Scene 6:  The movie is finally over and it is time to leave.  My daughter has to go back to the restroom, maybe from the huge sprite she drank, and I am left to struggle with Justin to get him out of the theatre, through the rain and into his car seat.  He wanted to run around the lobby area of the theatre instead.

Scene 7:  My daughter finally appears and we are on our way back home.

Now, there are a couple of things that I learned from this incident.

#1 Feed the children before you get to the theatre and keep snacks in your handbag.  I know theaters do not like for you to bring your own food but, I wound up spending more than I would have on regular priced tickets just on food alone.  They are not paying your bills and if you have a toddler (which you pay for their ticket too, you can put some water or juice in their sippy cup along with some  Goldfish or Cheerios and save yourself the money).

#2 Always go on a weekday or early afternoon as there is less chance that the theatre will be packed and people will become annoyed with you and your rambunctious toddler.

#3 Look for another toddler.  This in fact saved me a lot of embarrassment because while Justin was up in the top row talking loudly, a little girl down in the front was screaming at her father and running around.  This took the attention off of us.  Okay, okay that is not an actual lesson learned.

#4 Take them often until they get used to behaving in public.  I know you want to call it quits but, they will never learn if we just avoid all situations where they misbehave (except for the grocery store, at the grocery store leave the cart where it is, take the child and get out.  They will learn that they are not running the show and still will not get what they want and you have not lost any money, only time).

Lastly, the movie sucked.  I should have waited for it on Netflix.

 

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Most Important Advice

best job and education 1 400.jpgLet me preface this by stating that I may change my mind and add to this list but as of now, I feel that if I had to give both of my children (especially my son) a few words of wisdom it would be:

There are two things in this world that can determine your path in life:

  1. Education
  2. Your peers (the circle you are in)

My original wording was that there are two things that can shut doors and ruin your life, where it would take an extraordinary effort to get it back on track.

  1. Not getting an education
  2. Dealing with the wrong people

Since the original wording wasn’t as optimistic, I decided to lighten it up for this post (but believe me, my kids may get it either way). The reason that I chose the two is because both can open doors and provide opportunities but only one can ruin everything that you’ve ever worked for. The second trumps the first because education opens doors and dealing with the wrong people can shut them.  It is imperative that young adults know this. I have watched some of my middle school students on the right path academically, let their surroundings and friends get in the way of everything that they’ve worked hard for.  I have seen the brightest end up on house arrest, pregnant, addicted to drugs, etc.  When I mention this, I always receive the snide remark “well I guess they weren’t that bright.”  This is absurd.  They are still children, learning how to navigate this world and some are doing without parents but guardians and grandparents trying to fill the role.  To this remark, I reply “well, I guess all of the stupid mistakes that you’ve made in life, make you dumb as a doorknob.”

When these students return to me broken and embittered, I tell them these two things.  I have them go over their particular situation and those of others that they know have gone down the wrong path.  I ask them what do they see?  Is there a common denominator?  We explore their emotions and accept that its alright to feel this way but we must move on.  They search me for answers when the answers are inside of them but they are too young to know that now.  It is our job as adults to provide wisdom and not just be “the cool parent” or “the cool adult”.  This generation is looking for guidance and formula that they can follow when there really isn’t one.  So, I give them what I know to be true.  Learn, whether it be the traditional way or an untraditional way.  But, learn, read, explore.  And if you are going to do these things to better yourself and open doors, then do not slaughter your dreams by dealing with the wrong people.  We all make decisions in life and the old adage still holds true: Birds of a feather flock together.

Sometimes we think that staying “down” with others will inspire them and lift them up but, it does the reverse.  What inspires greatness is walking in your own light and excellence and when those who want the same for themselves are ready to obtain it, they will come and follow you!

The Village

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I would like to think that I can do all things and that I can be everything to my children as a single parent, but I am a realist.  I realize that there may be certain needs that must be met that I may not be able to meet.  As a single parent or a just a parent for that matter, it is important to not short change ourselves or our kids trying to be supermom and superdad.  Sometimes we must employ the help of others.  We must create the village*.

I realized this earlier this week as I waited for my daughter to finish volleyball camp.  As I was standing there, I observed other girls from all different backgrounds receiving instruction, lessons, skills, and support.  The coach was building a team in front of me.  If there was a girl there who wanted to belong to something, she was definitely going to belong to this team.  I watched my daughter’s face shift from focused (on what the coach was saying) to joyous when she was able to high-five a team member or score a point.  This moment I could not provide her with on my own.

There is a huge gap between my children, my daughter is 12 and my son is 21 months.  She has pretty much been an only child until he was born.  I have constantly been busy working and going to school to provide for her and I have to admit, I missed out on a lot.  But, when I was off from work and not in class, I took her to museums, plays at the library, outdoor festivals, etc.  I tried my hardest on a mediocre salary.  But, there are things that I could not provide.  I am not ashamed to say that I utilize my village*.  I put her in cotillion because I want her to be refined and conduct herself as a young lady should.  I let her participate in any sport that she wanted to, to include gymnastics, tae kwon do, cheerleading, soccer, and volleyball.  She needed the team and the discipline and friendships that are included.  I let her participate in the play for which she was so awesome, I had to step back and soak it all in.  She received applause after applause and it seemed as though everyone in the audience stopped her afterward and told her how wonderful she was.  She needed that, they all need that.  Of course they receive the accolades from us because we are always there but, it is special when it comes from complete strangers who do not owe you anything.

I encourage you to take advantage of any opportunity to build your village because our kids need that.  Don’t go it alone.  If you look hard enough, there is always someone there willing to help.

*It takes a village to raise a child. – African Proverb