Limits of Attention

Yesterday was our nephew’s fourth birthday party.

As you get to four years old, you start discussing ‘real’ birthday parties – perhaps something different than what we do for the kids (a BBQ or over-glorified playdate), and this year, our nephew Z had a party at a movie theater.

The Monster’s attention really isn’t necessarily conducive to seeing a film… but then again, neither is R’s.  We’ve gone to sensory films at the AMC theater near our house since we don’t have to particularly worry if his attention starts wandering during those, but when we’re out with NT children and their families, his behavior is of course something on our mind.  Add in a ninety minute drive to get there, and there’s a potential for problems at that hour of the morning.

At least we were well prepared, and I think that it went very well with regards to the Monster.  We came armed with plenty of drinks and snacks, and the iPad… and the party included drinks and popcorn for everyone.  He made it through about half of the film (“The Pirates: Band of Misfits”) before he was really insistent on getting up, at which point we put the iPad into his hands so he’d be quiet and still, and then he was able to sit for the rest of the film.  (And he even told us presently when he needed to go use the restroom, so I didn’t mind missing a few minutes of the flick.)

The only thing I didn’t think of in advance, and I’m constantly guilty of this, is the matter of headphones.  He didn’t seem bothered by the volume of the film or the darkness, or the contrast in light between the screen and the room… but it would have helped to not worry about the volume of the iPad.  We don’t tend to remember to grab a set for him, either the plug-ins for the device or his noise-blocking ones if we’re really going to be out in a loud place, and we should make that a priority going forward when we’re packing for a day out.

I’d call it a success, but it’s also a good reminder of the limits of his attention span.  At least this time, we bore that in mind when planning.

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