Dear Parent with the noisy kid at the movie, please stay at home

Ever watched a movie while an infant wails two rows behind you? The father watching the film pretending he isn’t with the mother or the infant. The mother not taking her eyes off the screen lest she miss an important blink of her favourite leading star’s eyes simultaneously jigging the child to quiet him down. Nothing works, people around are now getting annoyed and shooting them polite looks of impatience. There’s a little bit of a scuffle; the mother’s face is blank, the father is embarrassed; the mother suddenly thrusts the baby at the father and the father walks out of the cinema with the screaming infant. Some peace for everyone. Father returns in 10 minutes. Rinse. Repeat.

Why, dear parent, do you take your infants/toddlers to the movies? Call me judgemental, but please find a way to watch a movie at home or not bring your child to a place that has other people who will be disturbed by your child. I understand nuclear families don’t have an option and the parents must get out once in a while to relax. So they go to a mall, eat a meal and watch a movie. AND DRAG THEIR BABY ALONG! Find babysitting, send your kid off to her granny’s, have a friend stay with her, or worse comes to worst, don’t watch a movie till your child is old enough to stay with someone or accompany you to the cinema. (Don’t tell me how that can be done. It can. I did it). But please spare other people the agony that your insensitivity thrusts upon us.

Indian parents, irrespective of education or money, continue to be completely insensitive to anything beyond their own needs. With zero social conscience, most Indian parents don’t think twice about disturbing the rules of the public spaces they access. Letting their kids throw food in parks, letting the kid walk with her shoes on seats in a common waiting area, letting kids run around in the aisles or in the space in front at a cinema, all this as the movie is going on. All the parents concern themselves with is that they can watch in peace, who cares about other people’s movie-watching experience being disrupted? And if you ever try telling them to get their kids to behave, the kind of offense they take and the noise they create is just plain embarrassing. Either they’ll be brash and argue with you, or they’ll take out their anger on their child. Both of which are painful. But the worst response I’ve heard yet is, “Arre bachcha hai, of course he’ll make some noise.” Well, if you are so sure he will make noise, don’t bring him to the movies. Can’t leave him anywhere? Wait for the movie to come on TV and watch it with as much noise as your little darling can make. Leave the rest of us in peace.

The immense insensitivity of parents who bring their little children to the movies doesn’t stop with disrespect to people around them. Not only do they not care about people around them, they flagrantly flout the certification of the film. I’ve lost count of the number of films where there’s excessive violence, some nudity, some bad language and is clearly rated for 13+ and kids have been brought. I remember the time when I was watching a film and family of three was sitting next to me. The child couldn’t have been more that four years old. At one point the child piped up loudly and asked, “Mamma, what does slut mean?” Why would you put yourself and your child through that? Kids watching violence, sexism, near-erotic dancing. Why do you do this to them, Indian parents? You think taking a baby is any better? NO. It’s worse. The loud sounds, the darkness and the stuffiness of a cinema hall overstimulates a baby and leaves is irritable for 24 hours at least.

Unless you’re sure your baby can sleep through a film, or actually just keep quiet and watch it, do us all a favour and don’t come to the movie with your child. I say this again, at the risk of sounding insensitive, if you have a child you are not sure will be quiet, then don’t watch a movie till s/he is grown enough to watch one like a decent human being. It’s a movie, not the end of the world.

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