Special Needs Now

Mom Writes Moving Letter to Parents of 'Loud Child' at the Movies

When Kathy Roller heard a stranger's child making inappropriate noises in the movie theater, she was moved to write a letter.

happy boy at the movies Shutterstock
Mom Kathy Roller went to the new Star Wars movie with her husband expecting action, adventure, and a good time. She didn't expect to leave in tears, her heart full of memories of her son Isaac, a 7-year-old with a heart condition and special needs who passed away earlier this year. What moved Roller to tears wasn't anything on screen. Rather, it was the loud laughter and other noises of another child in the theater that stirred memories of Roller's son. So, she wrote a letter to the parents, that has since been shared widely online.

In the letter, Roller says:

"With excitement in our eyes, my husband and I made it to the seats in the center of the theater. As the TIE fighters and Starfighters started engaging in an epic battle in the middle of the galaxy...all I could hear...was YOUR kid making loud noises. I couldn't take it any longer....I started crying...because, as much as I wanted to lose myself in this movie...your loud kid helped me remember my son, Isaac.

You see...our son Isaac, passed away earlier this year from an infection in his heart. Some days it's hard to smile, to find something to laugh at, and some days...to even breathe.

Thank you for reminding me that it's OK to remember...

and to cry...

and to laugh about it afterwards."

Roller's words have made some people upset. Commenters have argued back and forth about whether any loud child—especially one with special needs who is inclined to make noise at inappropriate times—should be taken to a movie. Some have made the case that parents like Roller and the ones she wrote the letter to are destroying the movie-going experience for everyone else and being selfish.

I think this negative approach is missing Roller's point, and I firmly believe that if we want to be an inclusive society we need to embrace people of all abilities doing things like going to movies, even if they laugh at suspenseful parts or make loud noises. Rather than debating if kids like Roller's (or my own) should go to movies, let's hold on to the larger point here.

Life is short. We get only a finite number of years with our loved ones, and our precious children's existence shouldn't be taken for granted. Let's seize the joy we can, enjoy every day with our children, support and connect with each other, and laugh even when no one else is.

Jamie Pacton lives near Portland where she drinks loads of coffee, dreams of sailing, and enjoys each day with her husband and two sons. Find her at www.jamiepacton.com and Twitter @jamiepacton.