A child's first movie used to be a rite of passage. My older brother's first movie was Star Wars and my husband remembers going to the theater for the first time and seeing E.T. "Used to be", not so anymore.
Go to an animated feature at a theater now and you'll see children as young as a few months- even weeks- old at the theater along with their families. Not that it's a problem, sometimes if the family is going to see a movie, taking baby along is the only way to make it happen. But my point is that more often than not, children as young as one and two years old are almost as accustomed to making the trip to the movie theater as the trip to the grocery store.
Well, call me old-fashioned or over the top, but I was hoping my daughters' first "real" movie would be a special event they would remember for years to come. So we've been watching and waiting for the right time for Hope to go to the theater.
An obvious prerequisite was that she have the attention span to sit through an entire full-length movie at home. That requirement was only recently fulfilled. The next step was to wait for a movie to come out that my particular three year old would actually watch. For her, this means animation only. To her, real people= boring. To top it all off, Mommy (that would be me) is pretty particular about what movies Hope is allowed to watch at all. Even if it's a movie supposedly made for kids, I don't think a bunch of added-in adult humor, even though it goes over kids' head, is necessary. And although it's nearly impossible, we try to avoid toilet humor in movies. That comes naturally enough to kids already, I don't feel the need to encourage it further by providing my daughter with new material.
Hope's and my criteria was finally met with Disney's newest release UP!
We made a big deal with Hope about going to the movie theater. We talked to her in advance about how she would have to whisper during the movie because there would be a lot of other people there watching. We talked up the popcorn and asked her what kind of snack she would want.
All the preparation must have paid off because Hope's first movie was a success. A few moments were intense for her and she covered her eyes. The movie was during and past her bedtime as well, so she did get tired and was reclined in my lap by the time the movie was over. And due to her sensitivity to loud noises, Hope spent approximately half the movie with her hands over her ears. But overall, Faith thoroughly enjoyed the theater experience and our choice for her first movie.
On a side note, if you're going to take your newborn to a movie with you, a few tips. One, make sure they're well fed and either rested or ready to sleep during the movie. Two, be prepared to feed them- breast or bottle- or have a pacifier handy, should they start to make their presence known in the middle of the movie. Third, sit near an aisle so that, should the previous two efforts fail, you can make a quick exit to avoid disturbing other theater patrons. Fourth, and finally, as a last resort, if your tiny movie watcher should become inconsolable, be mentally prepared in advance that you may have to leave the theater altogether and possibly miss seeing the whole film and waste the money you spent on a ticket.
(That being said, I suppose it's quite obvious that we had a family with a small baby sitting directly behind us during the movie that was not entirely respectful of those around her. She definitely stayed within the parameters of proper theater decorum though. Also, I say the above as that this is what I would mentally prepare myself for if I chose to take an infant to a movie theater. In reality, I've chosen to avoid all of the above and just not do it.)
All a child's firsts are new and exciting hurdles their parents leap with them. And Hope's first movie was a very fun one to leap. It makes me excited for Violet's first trip to the theater...