For some reason I'd had two children yet never attended a mums and bubs session at the movies. I'm not sure if I found the concept daunting, or whether I had just found it daunting leaving the house with the first two. So third time lucky - and a friend and I agreed to meet at Event Cinemas in Innaloo for one of their Babes-in-Arms sessions.
The movie was due to start at 10am so I arrived fifteen minutes premature. Pun intended. Never before have I seen so many prams in one small space, and the question I kept asking myself was: where are they all going to fit? Each one was the size of a small car. I had already bought my ticket online and got to jump the queue but no one seemed to be in much of a hurry. It was strangely calm despite the sheer numbers of infants and toddlers.
It seemed as though a lot of mothers' group use the weekly sessions to meet, as groups kept forming in the foyer. I was surprised at how few mums were in the lolly shop (aka 'Scoop Alley') but it turned out they were all in the queue for the takeaway coffee instead, which makes sense.
As I waited for my friend to arrive I began to ponder that age old question: what do you do with the baby when you need to use the toilet? It reached 10am and everyone was still milling around the foyer. Where was the stampede? Why was everyone so calm? I've seen mums almost kill each other for the last box of nappies on sale at Target so where was the killer instinct we all know we have hidden inside?
Finally everyone started moving towards the cinema. My friend arrived and we took our place in the queue. The attendant congratulated us on bringing our babies in their car capsules, not that we deserved any praise. I had forgotten my pram altogether and my friend had bolted from the car as she was running late. She had been told over the phone it was okay to bring a pram, but the lady at the door said it wasn't allowed. Something about a fire hazard. So what happened to the hundreds of prams I had seen in the foyer?
Ah, there they were. Lined up along all the walls, under the screen, in the walkways between tiers. A veritable rally of prams. We had booked our seats at the time of ordering tickets but there was no room for the capsules in the aisle seats we had chosen. So we took the risk of pinching someone else's seats and sat up in the back row, the capsules in seats either side of us. As we walked up the stairs we could see a baby getting his bottom changed, someone else trying to offer a banana to a grumpy toddler and a whole lot of babies being fed. Needless to say, that this is a very breastfeeding friendly environment. If breasts offend, stay away.
The cinema was almost full, and as the lights dimmed, a sea of bobbing heads could be seen as babies were settled and rocked to sleep. My one main complaint was the fact that the cinema felt the need to show twenty minutes of previews and adverts. I understand that this is how they also get their money, but when you pack 500 mums and little babies in a small place, surely you want to keep the time to a minimum. That's why everyone was loitering in the foyer.
It is a babes in arms session, so yes – there will be crying babies. But unless it is your own child, you don't tend to hear it.
A few mums were standing in aisle rocking their babies, and my friend missed half the film because her super-pooper managed to fill two nappies in the first hour. I also found that I never really relaxed because you're not entirely sure when your baby is going to wake/scream/poop/vomit or have a complete melt-down.
But for $8.50, which is about half a normal priced ticket, you can enjoy a new release film and not need to worry about people hissing at you if your beloved makes a sound. It's actually quite a cheap morning because the babies are too little to harass you to buy them popcorn and soda.