The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

29 09 2011

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our two boys to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins at a local movie theater.  We arrived a few minutes late, and the only seats available were all the way down front in the first two rows.  We took the four end seats on the second row.  The entire front row and rest of the second row were empty.

A few minutes later, a group of about two dozen tweens and teens arrived, filling the entire front row, most of the second row and a few seats directly behind us.  We only saw one adult in the entire group, and she was sitting directly in front of us.

Right away we knew this was not going to be the pleasant experience we were hoping for.

The kids in the second row, next to us, proceeded to come and go from their seats half a dozen times, bumping into us and tripping over us with nary an “excuse me.”  In fact, they looked at us like we were inconveniencing them.  After a young lady proceeded to stop in front of us in our row to talk to her friend in the first row, my husband finally said something, and the adult in the group told the kids to stay put.  So the constant shuffling about ended, but then the real fun began.

Non-stop talking and frequent text in ensued for the next hour.  The tipping point, however, was when someone started throwing trash at the movie screen.

I leaned forward and addressed the lady sitting in front of me.  I told her that if she didn’t take care of the kids in her group and get them to calm down and behave, I was going to get security to deal with them.  I noticed several kids in the particularly rowdy section were staring at me, so I turned to address them, and told them exact same thing I had told their “chaperone.”  One of the boys simply said, “We’ll stop.”

And so they did stop . . . for about five minutes.  At this point, there were only a few minutes left in the movie, and neither my husband nor I had any energy left to do anything more.

We tried to let the rowdy group leave ahead of us, but on the way out, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned around, and the fun really began.

I was surprised to find it was a second adult from this unpleasant group.  She identified herself as the mother of one of the boys I addressed—to stop throwing trash at the screen—and she asked what I told her son.  I thought that was a fair question.  This woman was polite, and so I shared with her the same message I shared with the other adult and then the kids.  “I told them that if they didn’t stop throwing garbage at the screen, talking, and texting, I was going to get security to deal with them.”

She thanked me, told me she agreed with me, but then proceeded to justify these kids’ behavior.   “You have to be respectful of other people.  You don’t know where people are coming from,” this mother told me.  Of course, I wholeheartedly agree with this, and I told this woman as much.  I followed up with it really doesn’t matter where people come from, if they can’t behave and act appropriately in a movie theater, they shouldn’t be there.

Again, this lady said she agreed, but then went on to say, “that sometimes kids are just going to be obnoxious and there’s not much you can do about it.”

Oh really?  I sincerely hope this mother doesn’t really believe that.

I told her that my two much younger sons behaved more respectfully than many of the kids in her group, and that if they didn’t know how to behave respectfully, they shouldn’t be there, ruining the experience for everyone else in that theater, and especially with so many families with young kids present.

Up to this point, our conversation had been polite, but something in this woman snapped very quickly and very fiercely.

Before I knew it, this woman had her finger in my face and was cussing me out with a frightening vengeance.  I literally threw my hands up in the traditional “surrender” gesture, took a few steps back, said nothing, and tried to get around her to get to my sons.

 In the meantime, my husband stepped in, tried to calm this woman down and asked her why she was cussing me out.  (He had been at the back of the theater and had missed most of our discussion.)  She did not take kindly to my husband, either, and soon the finger was in his face, and she was getting meaner, uglier, louder, and more vulgar by the word.

I finally got my boys together.  Caleb, my sensitive one, was on the verge of tears, and he kept asking me if we were going to be okay.  Jason, my anything goes kid, was happily playing on the seats and had no clue what was going on—for which I was grateful.

Somehow we all made it out of the theater while this woman continued her rant all the way down the hall and out the front doors.  My husband rushed ahead, found security as well as the theater manager, and shared our experience with them.  Nothing was to be done at this point, but the officer did go outside and keep an eye on the kids who were still milling around by the entrance.

I left the theater frazzled and frustrated.  I also left feeling sad for the children who witnessed this unpleasant exchange.  I thought, if this parent is the main role model for her son, no wonder these kids behaved the way they did.  Of course, these kids are probably around positive role models in their teachers and coaches on a daily basis, but the actions, speech, and beliefs the parent(s) model have a much stronger influence.

I have seen this in my own parenting, both the positive and negative behaviors I model to my children.  In those moments when I am not setting a very godly example for my sons, I am reminded of these scriptures.

“Jesus said to his disciples:  “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.  It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.  So watch yourselves.” –Luke 17:1-3

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” –Proverbs 22:6

God has placed a great responsibility on my shoulders by entrusting me with two precious sons, and I take that responsibility very seriously.  As a parent, I am my children’s greatest role model.  I will shape their behaviors, their speech, and their beliefs more than anyone else.  My influence is second to none, especially in their early years.

What I say, matters.  What I do, matters.  What I believe, matters.  And they matter NOW. 




3 responses

30 09 2011
Katie Foster

This is so true. Very seldom do you have a retched acting child without an even more un-respectable parent. Strengths transfer a lot in a family but parent’s problems always become their children’s burdens (or in this case misbehaviors).

1 10 2011

Oh my gosh, poor Caleb!! I’m sorry this happened. Whenever something like this happens to me, I always try to remember that what the lady said was true- you don’t know what’s happened that day for them or where they’re coming from. I always say a prayer that they’ll get help or they’ll be given the tools they need to become better in that situation and try to remember that I have bad days, too. (This doesn’t really work for the kids in this situation, but more for the mom who might have had all she could take that day or doesn’t know how to discipline kids.)

2 10 2011

That’s crazy! When you come into those situations, you just say a little prayer for them, then move along with your day and don’t let it bother you. The good thing that comes from those situations is the fact that you can learn from that person’s mistakes, and try to better yourself from their misdoings.

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