In Praise of Rock Star Parents

We went to see “Newsies,” (a Broadway musical) in a movie theater (yay, Fathom Events, bringing such things to movie theaters across America), then “Despicable Me 3.” Guess which audience deserved a standing ovation?

The Newsies screening was lightly attended. We got there early as I’d been looking forward to it, got great seats and settled in to enjoy. One group settled behind us and began a symphony played on cellophane wrappers and purse zippers. Not just “zip,” or even “zip, zip,” but “zip-crinkle-zip-zip-crinkle-zip-zip-zip!” At the last minute, in walks a group of teenaged girls. Loud teenaged girls. I was a teenaged girl. I remember what it’s like, out with your friends, having fun. But these girls were talking (loudly) about theater. Auditions they had gone to/were going to. They talked (loudly) even during the special added moments, like members of the cast of Newsies singing new interpretations of songs. The sorts of things real theater people enjoy. Which we couldn’t hear. Because of them.

Real artists respect the craft. Music, acting, painting, whatever it is, it’s hard work¬† if you do it right, and you respect other artists and respect an audience. They have their part to play, buying tickets, paying attention, being present for whatever it is. They paid to see/hear/experience something and a pro respects that and doesn’t get in the way of it. As a friend once told someone in my presence, “Nobody here paid to see you, so sit down.”

Then we went to see “Despicable Me 3.” An audience of parents and little kids.¬† These kids, who weren’t together, by the way, behaved like champs. Sure, they talked a bit, quietly. If they kept talking, parents quietly told them to keep it down so people could hear. They reacted to the movie, laughing, etc. But they didn’t talk loudly, or run around, or otherwise ruin the experience for the people around them. They were great. When the movie ended, I told Mark I wished I could stand at the door to the theater and thank every parent there. “There’s some rock star parenting going on in this theater,” I said.

Now, I didn’t say it for effect. It was just a comment to Mark. “There are kids here behaving better than the adults in the other theater.” I saw a dad sitting ahead of us nudge his wife. Mark told me later the man’s wife was beaming. She should be. They are raising considerate kids who know how to be with other people, enjoying and participating, without selfishly getting in the way of what’s going on around them.

Thank you, rock star parents who are taking care of business in the most classy way possible. The rest of us who share this planet with your kids owe you our gratitude.

And to those girls, just know that nobody was impressed by your discussion of what songs you plan to sing for your auditions. You were just the jerks who disrupted the movie for the rest of us.


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