We open on a mother on the way to the theater with her three children. All are dressed nicely and the mother has high expectations for the afternoon. Culture! The Arts! This will be magnificent! On the ride over, many rules and expectations are laid out, rewards promised for good behavior, threats and retribution implied for bad behavior.
Immediately upon entering the theater, the children spy the concession counter. High-pitched pleas are made for $40 glossy programs, chocolate, mints, cough drops, packages of tissues; whatever is for sale no matter how uninteresting the item might ultimately be. Hustling the whining children past the counter with promises of, “Maybe after!!!” She breathes a sigh of relief that she has dodged that bullet. The mother asks each child a minimum of five times if they need to go to the bathroom before entering the theater. No takers.
They climb the extremely steep stairs to reach their seats in middle of the nose-bleed section. Within thirty seconds of settling the children into their seats, the youngest claims an immediate need to use the bathroom. In a bold move, the mother decides to leave the two older children in their seats and take only the youngest to the bathroom, where the child will become completely enthralled with the massive echo created by his voice in the high-ceiling, marble room. He proceeds to take the slowest, most song-filled poop on record. The mother is now sweating through her top, her anxiety increasing as the minutes tick by, reaching a gut-wrenching crescendo when she finally reaches the entrance to the theater only to be told that she will have to wait until the next break in the action before she can return to her seat. All attempts to convince the elderly usher that she MUST return to her two younger children alone in their seats are met with withering looks and unmistakable judgment.
The mother is finally allowed back into the theater. Miracles! The older children are still in their seats and appear no worse for her absence. She begins the long trek up to their seats, this time in the dark, which sends the youngest into a tizzy of such magnitude the mother is forced to carry the forty-pound child up the stairs while he buries his face in her armpit which doesn’t help her sweating situation AT ALL.
The mother crawls over her row-mates, apologizing and dripping sweat on the exasperated strangers, only to find that the oldest child now needs to pee and the middle child has fallen asleep. The mother hisses, “NO ONE is going ANYWHERE,” and fights the urge to weep openly. The youngest spends the remainder of the play hopping in and out of her lap, “whispering” loud questions while the oldest shifts restlessly because he really does need to pee pretty badly.
As the play comes to a close, the applause rouses the middle child who cries, “I missed the whole thing!” The oldest child is now desperate to pee and the youngest insists on being carried back down the treacherous risers, which the mother desperately longs to scoot down on her bottom.
In the lobby, the youngest insists on accompanying the oldest into his new favorite concert hall from where you (and everyone else) can hear his ten-minute, encore performance of “Elmo’s World.” The mother at this point has lost the will to fight/live. Her children, sensing this, strong-arm her into buying $100 worth of chocolate, snacks and programs. The mother navigates 45 minutes of parking lot traffic, staring blankly out the windshield like the trauma victim she is. Hopped up on sugar with energy to burn after sitting for the majority of the day, the children will bounce and sing songs at full volume, and beg to go to another play SOON!