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The Noisy Child: What’s a Patron to Do?


Here’s a question for you parents out there.

The other night, I attended a patriotic concert show with some friends. It was a great show, with a mix of music, songs and tributes to our servicemen and servicewomen.

Behind us was a family with a young child. He was cute as a button, and I estimated his age at 3 or 4.

Really, he was a really cute kid.

But he wouldn’t shut up. He talked through the whole show. He kept asking his grandmother (or maybe it was his aunt), “What them doing?” during slow spots.  I think I heard, “What them doing?” about 400 times in two hours.   He complained that he wanted to see more “horsies” after a scene involving soldiers riding horses onto the stage concluded.

Once in a while, as he was traded from lap to lap by his family, he even was kicking my shoulder or my seat, and surely those of other people who he happened to sit behind at any given moment.

Needless to say, it was distracting. Irritating. And needless to say, he was getting next to nothing out of this program, because he was too young to figure out the majority of what was being depicted.

But I wasn’t angry at the little boy at all. At that young of an age, what else is he going to do? I might have been more quiet than this when I was that age. But I can assure you of one thing: if I had been as disruptive as this little boy, my folks would have taken me out of the show.  Would they have been wrong to do so?

So here’s the question: should it be the parents’ job to make sure that their child is behaving appropriately in such a situation, or should it be up to the people around them to point out to them that their child is being a distraction?

Just for the record, I didn’t say anything, though I came close when the kicking was going on. I realize that when you’re with your child 24/7, you quickly become used to all of the questions a child asks. So to them, maybe this is just another day. I also wondered whether this child might have an emotional issue, or some other situation going on.

But the point is, I was doing all of this processing when I should have been able to concentrate on the show that I was attending.

But does being a parent give you a valid excuse to lose touch with etiquette when other people are around? And how would your own parents have handled a similar situation if you were the one being a distraction?


  1. I might put up with the questions and the chatting to a point. I would not have made it through the kicking. That is where I draw the line. I have put up with it on airplanes and in movie theatres and never again will I sit through anything without addressing that. I wouldn’t be able to say much to a 3-year-old but the parents are a different story. At first it would be a polite request. After that if the abuse continued, I would tell them they should take the kid with them out of the concert arena.

    I have no issue with this anymore. I hate being kicked.

    I don’t have kids. I made a decision long ago that this was not something I wanted. I’m really glad I didn’t have any. I understand why certain species eat their young… I know that sounds terrible. But I wouldn’t be able to deal with the insanity. And it seems there are far too many people out there who can’t take the insanity either. At least they should be ready to know what to do with a disruptive 3-year-old. My parents would have taken me out. I would expect it of others, but I know it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it does.

  2. As a parent, I wouldn’t have taken such a young child to an event like that. If I had made that mistake, I would have taken him out so that he wouldn’t ruin the enjoyment of the others there. It was disrespectful of you and the others around you to expect you to put up with that sort of behavior.

  3. I guess sometimes people don’t consiter that there child could be annoying people who are around them. Sometimes they just don’t care enough about what others think or about there feelings. If it was my child I would have been aware that he is disrupting people and try to just bring out the importance that he should be respectful to people trying to watch and that we would talk about it after the show. I have two daughters and never once have they acted in a disrespectful manor during a play or show.

  4. @TedtheThird Just to be clear, at one point, I think the child was sitting in the lap of a grandmother or aunt. His parents were there, too. There were a total of about six adults with this child.

  5. I think the big key was you mentioned they were with an Aunt or Grandparent. Caregivers tend to be more relaxed with children than their own kids. If that was one of my kids (besides questioning our judgment for bringing a 4 year old some place he obviously didn’t belong) we would either leave or my wife would walk the back of the auditorium, like we did with your infant son at our older daughters dance recital.

  6. I have one word to say, “Babysitter”

    I don;t blame the child, we were all like that at that age, but the parents should not have taken him to the concert, they should have know that he wouldn’t sit quietly through a concerts

  7. No, it’s up to the parent – he should’ve been taken to another part of the venue to walk around if that would work, or should’ve been taken out by one of the adults, maybe taking turns. It’s up to the parents to make sure children are pleasant to be around, teaching them how to behave, how to sit still, how to whisper, etc. For the folks around, I’d suggest getting up and finding an usher or someone else with a little authority – tell them the situation, and they can usually help the parents.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.