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I Took My Toddler To The Movies… For Sixty Seconds

Moments before the meltdown...

Moments before the meltdown…

We had a ridiculously rainy weekend here in Seattle , even by local standards, which meant indoor activities were a must. Saturday morning we took Cullen to the local science museum so he could check out exhibits, run around in the tots area, and burn off some of that early morning energy.

When we got there, we noticed there were a few new IMAX shows playing, and also that our family membership allowed us to go in for free. My husband suggested we try taking Cullen to a film about planes, and I figured there was no harm in trying, right? We played for a bit until the 10:30 feature started, and then we headed over to the theater and grabbed our seats. It was actually a 3D movie, so we even got to wear cool glasses! Cullen was excited about his little toddler pair, and seem intrigued by the theater.

Just as we took our seats, the lights went down and the movie started. I was instantly worried about the noise it was LOUD! Cullen is petrified of the vacuum and the blender, and I knew loud roaring jet engines were not going to fly with him (no pun intended).  I, of course, was busy trying to get a decent pitch black cell phone photo of my toddler looking adorable in 3D glasses, so I had yet to actually look at the movie screen. Cullen sat on my lap as I clicked away, and then I noticed his expression change. Wonder and curiosity turned into panic and sheer terror. He was petrified.

I glanced at the screen and saw the same thing he’d been watching moments before; giant fighter planes flying in 3D directly at my face. Oops! Turned out our “history of planes” film was less commentary and more loud, scary action! By now Cullen was turned around burying his face into my husband’s chest, and we were quietly excusing ourselves from the theater. In total, I’d say we were probably in there about sixty seconds. A new record, perhaps?

He had never seen a movie of any kind before, in the theater or just at home, so I suggested that since it was a horribly rainy day, maybe we should try doing a family movie night at the house after nap time. We could show him how movies are supposed to be fun, cozy, and relaxing. Any time during the rest of the afternoon if I would ask Cullen if he wanted to watch a movie at home, his eyes would bug out and he’d look at me worried and say, “No loud!” This was going to be a tough sell.

After nap time, we pulled our sleeper couch out and all piled on. The rain poured down and we fired up Toy Story surrounded by blankets and snacks. I don’t know that Cullen was following the plot at all, but he seemed interested in the characters and the story. It seemed like things were headed in the right direction. About forty minutes in, he stood up on the couch, turned to me, and said, “Uhhhhhhhh… Elmo?” My husband and I both cracked up.

So maybe he isn’t quite ready for feature films just yet. His attention span seems to be limited to bursts of about thirty minutes and red furry friends. Either way, I’m glad we tried the movie night at home so he doesn’t forever associate the word movie with fighter planes flying at his face. Next time we’ll just stick to the museum exhibits!

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