Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stars and Strollers

Let me start by saying I'm in a good mood despite not seeing the end of the movie, and considering William has been crying for an hour since we got home from our first <---- (I must be optimistic!) Stars and Strollers attempt. *update*: after William finally went down he slept only an hour and was hollering blue murder at the top of his lungs until Daddy gave him a bottle (I naively thought I'd get at least an hour and a half of sleep out of William and went to the drugstore).

Now, I realize most mommies have been there and done that, but seeing as how this is my first baby and our first movie attempt together, I'm writing about it! : )

Can I just say what a cash grab Stars and Strollers must be? Seriously. How many mommies even make it to the end of the movie, or could even tell you what happens at any given moment? I lasted for about an hour and a half, and I knew in advance popcorn was not an option.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My friend Suzy, who recently had a baby (now just over a month old), and I got there with plenty of time. The movies are NOT discounted, by the way--some might say, "why should they be", but I think I could make a case for it (I won't here, though). Suzy went with Burger King right at the theatre as her four year old was home from Daycare, Daddy Sean made the trek to make it a family event, and they needed lunch before the movie. Their bill for two meals was $23, which they were openly horrified by, especially after paying over $50 for 3 adult and 1 children's ticket (upon which Daddy Sean declared, "I am eating every single one of these 50 cent fries!)

The website advertises "Stroller parking available in select theatres", which consists of space for about 5 strollers, not including the ramp that enters the individual theatre (where I watched a portion of the movie).

Daddy Sean and Lucas went to a kids flick, while Suzy and I parked our strollers in the front row of the main tier of our theatre, just before about 10 mommies and strollers showed up looking for more space to "park". Can someone say Fire Hazard?

I made sure to bring William's sound muffling headphones, which made Suzy laugh, but were alternately fabulous and irritating to William. At one point I had the headphones off just as the abusive father on screen shouted at his wife and child, "Fuck! Just go ahead and eat your fucking lunch!" (because said lunch wasn't good enough in typical cliched abusive behavior). This of course sent William into a high pitched scream--always accompanied by real tears, mind you. So now I'm trying to get the headphones back on, kiss William on his wet cheeks and reassure him it's "just a movie, Sweetie"--like he understands that, and so on and so forth.

At times William was calm just watching the movie (despite my anti-tv-and-and-everything-related-policy-until-2 years-old), headphones on, and then he'd claw at said headphones, restless, and I'd try to pacify him with the pacifier, of course (despite my no-pacifier-after-3-months-policy). Then I'd try and give him his blue giraffe, or his new crunchy Winnie the Pooh "Hunny" book. I tried cradling him, looking longingly at the calm baby in her mother's lap next to me who was actually "shooting" William a look like, "what the hell, buddy, settle down."

William would screech a little, and then Suzy's guy Charlie would let out a whimper (but was mostly content to just eat and eat from Mommy). William's screeching would set off some other screeching in the theatre, so there was always some screeching going on.

I figured we'd had enough when William really started to howl his ear piercing, squirm out of arms shriek. No cradling, giraffe, headphones, or "relaxing" in the car seat/stroller would do, so off into the hall we went. After a few trips around the hallway, back to the seat, and more screaming--I finally plunked him into the stroller to leave--had to manoeuvre around the babies playing on blankets next to us, the other strollers, the car seats, and out we really went.

William settled down outside, but the moment I'd attempt to roll back in, he'd literally start whimpering. We managed a five minute stretch of watching the movie in the entrance/exit aisle because he was facing the screen, when a woman joined me with her baby. She was trying to coax me into the "closer" seats, etc, until William started to protest and she finally took his hint and left.

I went back outside and rolled William around in the stroller. I tried to go back in again, and saw other Mommies and squirming babies in the same aisle I'd just vacated--but William would have none of it. Needing some guidance, I called Rob for mental support and he advised me to feed William inside and if he still didn't settle, to go out into the mall and simply shop (we were at Chinook and I had it in my head I would accomplish many errands on this trip). Normally I would make such such a deduction on my own, but it was a new scenario, other mom's seemed to be sticking it out, and Suzy was down in the front row with Charlie contentedly feeding away.

So, back in we went. I could just barely get William latched without a full audible episode, but he did quite fine without my usual guidance. I looked over and Suzy was still feeding Charlie, while a variety of other moms were now up in the aisles bouncing to soothe their bundles as baby shrieks ricocheted around the theatre like a vocal tennis match--which set William off during feeding and after when I thought he might actually be able to nap. We were about 3/4's of the way through the movie, after all.

The movie? Blue Valentine. Some artsy flick (crap) about a failing marriage, all "gritty", shot with a multitude of shaky cam close-ups, complete with a fuck scene where the woman wants her husband to hit her, and an abortion scene featuring the dr between the woman's legs all ready with the needle and such. This is the movie mothers are running to for relief from being cramped up in the house? Seriously? The movie started with the family dog disappearing as he'd gotten hit by a truck (and they showed him dead by the side of the road, then wrapped in a blue tarp for burying). And it's not like we had a choice between a nice fluffy movie and this. Our other option? The Rite. Right! God, $13 has never been so poorly spent (though I buy cheap movie passes, Suzy bought my full priced ticket in advance as they got there ahead of a huge line up).

And still, though William has had by all accounts an awful afternoon and evening (and subsequently Mummy and Daddy as well), I'm in pretty good spirits. Which may be difficult to tell, but none the less.

At no point did I get frustrated with William. If anything, his behaviour was completely expected, but I had to give it a shot. I know my son and he is a baby who is (currently) sensitive to sound, and who does not nap except in his crib or if he's REALLY tired, maybe the car. This is my baby. Why do you think I put headphones on him in the line up at Starbucks when the speaker next to us was blaring some pathetic tinny song, causing William's face to screw up in a telltale howl until I placed the headphones on him? Did I feel silly when the women behind me commented? No. I know my baby. I was happy I didn't force him into "sticking" out the movie when he was screaming in intense discomfort. I can't make William shriek with that much unhappiness just so I can finish watching some two-bit "Oscar nominated film". Yes, I want to push his boundaries and expose him to new and noisy surroundings, but not for my explicit benefit and so utterly at his expense.

Yet after all of that, William was full of smiles when we got home, and before our many attempts at putting him to bed, and will still have many toothless grins for us when he does go to sleep and finally wakes up.

Will I attempt Stars and Strollers again? It should be a resounding no, but never say never. William may evolve and I may find new ways of getting him accustomed to noise and napping. I'm just not going to completely disregard our happiness and sanity to do it.

: )