There is a new phenomenon in the world of Cinema. It’s not generally recognised by Hollywood studios or by actors or directors. In fact I would guess that 99% of the people in those categories have never experienced this. But those of us who are parents with toddlers certainly shall have.
We took my daughter to see G-Force recently. That’s the one about the super spy Guinea Pigs, and not rats, mice, hamsters or any other type of rodent as many people tried to tell me. The clue is in the name people, G-FORCE (so it’s down to Guinea Pigs or Gerbils!!). Anyway, I digress. What an experience a trip to the cinema with a toddler is.
My daughter is at the “Why?” stage of her life, which I have been reliably informed lasts until she is at least 18 and probably beyond if she realises it’s getting to me! Here’s a taste of the questions just to get into the cinema.
“Why do we have to queue to get in?”
“Why is that man in the queue before us?”
“Why is daddy giving that lady money to let us into the cinema?”
“Why do we have to use the escalator to get to the cinema?”
“Why do escalators move?”
“What happens if I don’t jump when we get to the end?”
“Will the escalator eat me, like it eats the stairs?”
“Why does the seat fold up?”
“Will it fold up when I sit on it?”
Eventually we are settled in our seats and the lights go down as the picture starts. Now, you may or may not be aware but G-Force is a 3D movie, which means you have to wear the 3D glasses. That brought about a raft of questions about why we had to wear sunglasses indoors. In the dark. To watch the big telly!
You might think that the unending questions are the crux of what changes the cinema going experience when you take a toddler. You would be wrong. The real change, and there is no escaping it, is that every movie becomes two 30 minute shows with another half hour missing somewhere in the middle which you spend running around the foyer with / after your child who has decided they need a break from the strains of a Disney movie! So being a dutiful dad you say it’s okay to go out for a bit and have a “rest” and then we can come back in a minute. But one minute becomes 5, then ten, and then you stop counting.
And as soon as you decide that she won’t want to be going back in, she will turn to you and ask, “Where are the Gerbils?”
So you take her by the hand and head back into the cinema to see the ending of the movie. Her little eyes lighting up at the magic of the silver screen, the questions about sunglasses indoors being asked again and then the awed silence as she once again becomes engrossed in the storyline she has picked up as if the whole thing had just been on pause.
And all the time you are saying in your nicest, sweetest, most patient Daddy voice, “They’re not Gerbils, Honey. They are Guinea pigs!”