One of my friend’s always professed that children are just for rent, meaning you don’t have them forever. I didn’t really understand this — that is until I found myself sitting alone in an animated children’s movie with 3D glasses on.
I had taken my daughter and her friend to a movie and, after I bought tickets and junk food, we walked into the theatre.
“We’re going to sit by ourselves,” my 9-year-old daughter’s friend announced.
I kind of expected my daughter to say, “Of course we’re not! We have to sit with my mommy, the greatest love of my life, the one who took us here and paid for everything!”
Yah, that didn’t happen.
My daughter happily took off with her friend to sit in the very back row of the theater, leaving me standing there, feeling like I was the only one who hadn’t been asked for the final dance of “Stairway to Heaven” at an overnight camp.
I suppose I could have said, “No, we’re all sitting together!” Or, “That hurts my feelings.” Or, “Are you embarrassed to be sitting with me?” But, of course, I wanted my daughter to have a fun playdate, and fun for a 9-year-old, it seems, is being allowed to sit without your not-so-cool mother. Oh the thrill!
I knew this day would come. I just didn’t think it would come so soon. And I didn’t really expect my feelings to be so hurt. There was barely anyone in the movie theater so I wasn’t worried about my daughter or her friend’s safety. I could easily see them if I just looked back, and I could also HEAR them, because 9-year-old girls like to talk throughout movies.
My friend’s 9-year-old daughter recently told her that my friend had to wait in the car when she picked her up from school. Why? My friend was wearing her glasses that day because she had an eye infection and couldn’t wear contacts. Her daughter was mortified to be seen with her. When did this start happening?
I’m not sure what I found more depressing. The fact that it was the FIRST time my daughter didn’t want to be near me, or the fact that I, a middle age woman, was sitting at a five p.m. show of an animated children’s movie with 3D glasses on.
I know plenty of people see movies by themselves, but honestly, would I have chosen an animated children’s movie – Epic – to go see on my own? I don’t think so.
But I got over the fact that my daughter had ditched me without seeming to care about my feelings. Unlike me, she didn’t think, “OH MY GOD THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE’RE NOT SITTING BESIDE EACH OTHER DURING A MOVIE!” Like the first time she managed to learn how to wave “bye-bye,” it was a milestone in her development. Not a good one, but a milestone that, as a parent, I will certainly remember.
I also stopped caring as much once the movie started. It was a really good movie. I was into it. But then things went downhill on the car ride home. I was making conversation with the girls and I was like, “I think it’s pretty cool to be so small and live in the forest! I wish I were that tiny!”
Do you know what my daughter’s friend asked my daughter? She asked, “IS YOUR MOTHER DRUNK?”
Yes, that’s right. A 9-year-old friend of my daughter’s asked my daughter if I was “drunk” because I mentioned that it would be pretty fucking cool to be so tiny and be able to fly on a bird! (For the record, aside from BIG celebrations, I never drink.) But then, wow, I got my daughter back on my side (Buh-Bye little friend!)
My daughter responded to her friend, “No, my mommy is not drunk. She just likes to talk like that.”
To which my daughter’s friend responded, “Oh, my mother never talks like that. I wish my mother would say things like that.”
She sounded so envious! So, yes, my daughter may not have thought I was cool enough to sit with at the movies, and who knows, maybe if I take her and her friends to a movie from here on, she’ll never want to sit with me again. But, hey, at least she (and her friend) still thinks I’m somewhat cool by the way I talk about movies and use my imagination.
Yes, it hurts, reasonably or not, the first time your child doesn’t want to be, or be seen, with you. So, now, I will remember the first time she learned to wave, the first time she stopped drinking out of a bottle, the first time she learned how to ride a bike by herself, and now, the first time my darling daughter didn’t want to sit with me.