Saturday, June 16, 2007

Disaster and a Movie

Disaster and a Movie

The girls were revved up and in full destruction mode earlier than usual this morning. Before I finished my first cup of coffee, Ella had taken out every toy she owned and Addison had tried to eat several inappropriate items, including diapers, wipes and the cat, in between spitting up on every square in of... everything. If we didn't get out of the house, and fast, there might have been one less child in my care when Steve got home that night. That's why, when I saw the message in my inbox reminding me that today was "Mom's Movie Club" at our local movie theater, I actually paused instead of automatically hitting delete. The ad claimed the lights would be turned up a little, the volume would be turned down a little, nursing appeared to be not only welcomed but encouraged, and roudy kids were to be expected, not sushed. In theory it sounded great. I should have known better.

Today's offering was "The Waitress." I hadn't heard of it, but it had to be better than watching my house being torn apart so I was in. I didn't anticipate Addison being much of a problem--if she cried, she cried. Other babies would be crying, too. But what about Ella? She hardly sat through her one-a-day alloted kids' show. How would she hold up for an adult movie? And then I had an idea. What if I brought a movie for her, too? Yeah, that's it! Bring a movie to the movie! I'm frickin' brilliant! Here's how it played out in my head: I would sit with a group of young fun moms, my baby on one knee and a tub of popcorn on the other, chatting and watching the movie while Ella and a bunch of other little kids gathered around the little DVD player happily, and quietly, watching "Finding Nemo" or "Madagascar." In my vision my hair is combed, my clothes match, and the kids are sitting in a circle on a clean red carpet. I have no idea how or why my mind fabricated these expectations, for my hair is rarely combed, my clothes only occasionally match, and movie theaters don't have clean carpets. Ever. Moms need to believe in visions, though. It keeps us going. With this fantasy in mind, I got my baby fed, my kids dressed, and found a not unmatching outfit for myself (the combed hair didn't make the leap from thought to reality, though).

I pulled an enormous mom purse out of my collection and filled it with a plethora of snacks for Ella, a bottle for Addison, the DVD player, and couple of DVDs from which Ella and her soon-to-be red carpet friends could choose. Fifteen minutes before show time I shoved the girls in their car seats and peeled out of the driveway and away from my disastrous house.

When we got to the theater I found out Movie Club goers had a second option--Shrek III. I had enjoyed the first two Shreks, and I thought that might be fun for both Ella and me to watch together on the big screen, so I ran the idea by her. She already had it in her head that she was going to Mommy's movie to watch her own movie, though, so she passed up Shrek for her "Madagascar show," informing me, "I like to move it move it is what the lemur says." "The Waitress" it was, then. I bought my ticket and headed in.

Luck was actually on my side and Addison was sleeping soundly in her car seat, which was nestled in her stroller. That would be one less kid I would have to worry about entertaining--I might actually enjoy my morning afterall. When we got to our movie, the theater was neither lit nor was the volume turned down. It was so dark, in fact, Ella and I had to stand in the entranceway and wait until something bright happened on the previews. When the raisonettes and twizzlers started dancing we made our move. We grabbed two seats in the handicapped row which allowed me to park the stroller without having to wake the baby.

I settled into my seat and got out Ella's DVD player. The snacks were done dancing, so I had attach the battery pack in the dark. I flipped on the power once I finally rigged up the battery, but nothing happened. Maybe I hadn't done it right, after all. A few tries later I had to face the facts--the battery was dead. Without her own movie to watch, there was no way Ella was going to sit through mine. She was beyond distraught when I broke the news to her that her Madagascar show didn't work, and it took a few minutes of sniffling and sadness before I finally convinced her to go see Shrek with me instead. We said goodbye to option #1 and felt our way out of the darkness toward the backup plan.

As we turned the corner to the hallway, the car seat containing my baby fell out of the stroller. That's right--it fell out. With my baby in it. In my frenzy to get the girls out of the car and into the theater I hadn't noticed the tray, onto which the car seat snaps, wasn't on the stroller--it was on our back porch where Ella had left it when playing "baby" the day before. The handle was up on the carrier, which prevented it from landing completely upside down, but it did cause the carrier to bounce a few times before coming to its final resting place on its side. Thank God Addison was still strapped in and the handle had acted as a roll bar, so she came out of the accident physically unscathed but, as you can imagine, PISSED. And I was absolutely mortified.

One by one moms more competent than I filed passed us into the theater as I stood there in the entrance, comforting my crying baby while her car seat lay strewn on the ground beside the stroller. It was pretty obvious what had happened but, just in case someone couldn't put the pieces together, Ella told each of the women who offered their assistance that her baby sister's car seat had fallen out of the stroller. And that I had forgotten to charge the battery on her "Madagascar show."

Most moms would have had the sense to call it quits by then, but not I. Addison got over the ordeal pretty quickly, and as soon as she calmed down I decided to press on. I held her in one arm and planned to push the stroller with the other, but as soon as we started moving the car seat fell out again. And again. And again. Without a baby to hold it down, that thing wasn't going to stay put. I finally wedged it in there on it's side (now there was no denying an awful safety violation had taken place). With Addison on one hip and Ella clinging to the arm that was pushing the wreckage of our travel system, we dashed toward "Shrek" before anyone could bust us for switching movies.

The second movie was considerably more crowded than the first was, and the handicapped aisle was already littered with strollers so were going to have to park ours at the top of the ramp into the theater and climb the stairs. We hadn't made it up two stairs before someone informed me my stroller was rolling away. Of course it was--safety precautions such as applying the break seemed so trite after dumping my baby on the floor. At least no one was in it at the time.

I needed adult company (and a drink, which I woefully wasn't going to get), so I found a kind looking soul with two kids and settled in next to her. "Oh, you're baby's so cute," she said. "Can I hold her?" And, right on cue, Addison reached out and pulled a big hunk of her hair out of her ponytail. I had to pry the poor woman's tresses from her unsettlingly strong baby grip. The lights went down and the previews started. When an ad for "Transformers" the movie came on, I couldn't believe my eyes. "Seriously?," I whispered to my adult company, "They're making a Transformers movie??? Remember that cartoon?" She didn't. As it turns out, the woman my age with kids wasn't at all a woman my age with kids. She was an older looking teen who was watching other people's kids. So much for making new movie-going friends. I would have tried to woo her into babysitting for me, but I assumed Addison's love grip had knocked out that possibility.

All told, we made it through about a half an hour of Shrek. I pulled out all of the stops trying to make it to the end of the movie, but not even my steady stream of snacks could slow her steady stream of "Who's that, Mommy?" "What's he doing, Mommy?" "Where is Shrek going, Mommy?" "What's happening, Mommy?". Once she ran through the list, she started again from the beginning. I didn't blame her, though--the movie was way over her head, so I tried to point out things I thought would be interesting to her. The likes of "Look, honey, there's silly flying donkey babies!" and, "Look at that silly costume Shrek's wearing!" were deflected with the her favorite mantra, "Whhhhyyyyyyy?" When I pointed to a big boat Shrek was on, Ella asked me where he was going. I couldn't answer--I had lost track of the plot about fifteen whys ago. Then one of her favorite characters from a "Peter Pan" picture book she had at home appeared on screen. "Look, Captain Hook!" I said, certain that I had found something that would hold her attention. As it turns out, Disney's slapstick version of Captain Hook was a lot different from the bitter, vindictive Captain on the big screen, and it was the Hook before us that finally did her in. "Mommy, I want to go back to my house! I'm scared of Captain Hook! I don't like him!" she whimpered as she scrambled onto my lap, displacing and consequently upsetting her sister. It was time to admit defeat. With one crying baby on my hip and another clinging to my leg, I gathered up my death stroller, said goodbye to my shattered dream of "Mom's Movie Club," and headed home.


  1. Ouch - I don't think I would dare attempt to go to the movies with both kids! I took Clara a few times when she was smaller and she actually sat through the whole movie (I took her to a Star Wars and Chronicles of Narnia). She did great but I doubt Ellis would make it through anything like that!

  2. Whew, I need a nap. I will take one for you too Amy. xo Mommy

  3. When we took you and your siblings to see 'E.T.' about a hundred years ago..well, let me paraphrase the adventure for you....we went, ate snacks from your mothers oversized diaper bag, and came home. Not one drop of adventure to even write about and I think we went to that same movie multiple times!!! Oh, how boring we were!!!! xo, A.K.