While last week’s senseless Dark Knight Rising massacre in a Colorado theater has everyone talking about gun control, mental illness and alleged shooter James Holmes’s failed educational exploits, I have to admit: I’m still a little stuck on how many babies were in the midnight showing that ended in mayhem and murder.
First off, let me be very clear: My bringing this up does not negate my anger toward the killer, my sympathy for the victims or my empathy for the parents whose children were hurt and killed in the melee; I pray there is justice in the case and that Holmes pays the ultimate price for his reign of terror on innocents who were senselessly cut down while enjoying one of our nation’s simplest pleasures: taking in a movie.
Still, I believe there is room for questions, a myriad of observations and a full range of emotions at times like these, when our nation’s collective consciousness is challenged. And I have to tell you, I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering why in the world there were little babies and under-aged kids at a violent, loud, PG-13 Batman movie in the middle of the night, when they should have been tucked in their beds with their stuffed animals and blankies, visions of Doc McStuffins and Dora dancing in their heads.
To be fair, I get it: I have kids. Life changed when they were born. Babysitters were expensive. My parents lived in another state so convenient, free, family help was pretty much non-existent. Concessions had to be made. None of them really welcomed, but all of them, in our home, completely necessary. Late night bar hops became 2 a.m. breastfeedings, quiet dinners at elegant restaurants became early suppers at kid-friendly eateries, romantic vacations for two took a backseat to family jaunts to the zoo, the aquarium and Disney and yes, evening and late-night viewings of adult movies stopped altogether, replaced by Netflix and matinee showings of Shrek and Finding Nemo when my daughters were old enough to sit reasonably quiet in a movie theater for a two-hour stretch without kicking the backs of neighboring seats, loudly asking questions about what was unfolding up on the screen and needing to make bathroom runs every half hour. This was the price we paid for being parents—grown ups who decided to have little humans who needed the kind of attention and care and nurturing that required us to put their kid needs ahead of some of our adult needs. At least for a little while.
In other words, there just wasn’t ever a time when we thought it would be a good idea to take the kids to adult movies—whether it was noon, 9 p.m. or midnight. Period. And to this day, it gets my goat when, on our extremely rare adult date movie nights, we settle into the theater seat with the fake-buttered popcorn and the overpriced slurpie and all through the doggone movie, there’s a screaming baby or a restless toddler or a scared six-year-old crying and fidgeting and talking all through a movie that’s meant FOR ADULTS. It’s not fair to the kids. It’s not fair to their parents. And it’s not fair to us fellow moviegoers, who laid out all that cash to get away from our kids, only to have to suffer through the behavior of someone else’s child.
Of course, none of the parents who took their children to the Colorado movie theater—some were just months old, some were toddlers, some were tweens, one, a six-year-old, died—could have ever expected that a gunman would shoot up the place. And anyone who suggests that their parents got what they deserved because they brought their kids to an opening weekend, midnight showing of Dark Knight Rising—as was suggested on a few stories I read this weekend—should have their tongue lashed with a spiked belt. God bless the dead—the injured. Their families. But please, folk: a nighttime adult movie is no place for children. It’s just not that serious. And the day when kids will be old enough to enjoy a racy, adult movie in the middle of the night will get here sooner than you think. Sooner than you’ll be ready for. Trust.
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Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.