Soft play areas

Although I don’t really think of this as a parenting blog as such, I suppose it is. And what sort of blog would this be if it didn’t mention the universally loved and loathed phenomenon that is the soft play area! Non-parents amongst us will be conjuring up memories of that occasional childhood treat, where a sugar-fuelled smaller and louder version of yourself was able to run free, screeching, bashing into other children and generally causing mayhem in the comforting knowledge that it was impossible to get injured anywhere that had the word “soft” in the title…

Parents among us know better. Is there a more torturous but wonderful experience for a parent than letting your small people vanish off into the brightly coloured arena that is surely the practice ground for the next Hunger Games??

We discovered soft play areas fairly early on into our parenting lives, and have spent the equivalent of the mortgage repayments for a small house over the last 18 months attending such places. In actual fact, had we not decided to enrich our lives with the joy of our beautiful boys, we could have used the soft play money to buy our own luxury yacht and sail around the world… but where would the fun have been in that?

So, in no particular order, here are my most memorable soft play experiences:

1) The previously discussed “tummy tummy” incident, which I won’t explain again, but definitely deserves a mention.
2) The time Marvin got bitten on the face. To this day, I believe the child that did it – I assume it was a child, but I can’t be sure – was provoked. I know my child. But he does still have a small mark on his face.
3) The time a woman told me off twice because Marvin slapped her grandchild across the face. First she told me off because he slapped the child. Then she told me off for telling him off for slapping the child! So I cried. So my mum told her off. Then we left and didn’t go back for a long time. Mind, I’m glad I wasn’t on the receiving end of that slap on that occasion, it was a cracker.
4) The time we all panicked in the really big soft play centre because we had lost Marvin. Norman did not know where he was. I did not know where he was. I searched for him, then got all emotional when I found him in the football pitch singing Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes with all of the other children, led by a very over excited member of staff who clearly must not have had children of her own, otherwise she’d have been sat with the other grown ups drinking overpriced and under strength coffee whilst pretending not to recognise the squeals and squawks of her children. He did look cute though! Until Norman then joined him, and the two of them ran round being aeroplanes and bumping into other children. I went back to my coffee.
5) The worst of the worst. The day we took them to a new soft play centre, with a table of snooty mothers who kept giving us strange looks. I did assume the smell was coming from one of their children, until Marvin ran past me again… I grabbed him. Mrs S got worried after I had spent 25 minutes in the toilets with him, until I returned with his entire outfit crammed into nappy bags, with him just in a nappy and all became clear. Well I say all. We didn’t see the stray piece of sweetcorn left on his leg right away. That was the day we had forgotten to pack a spare set of clothes for him. We haven’t forgotten since, although thankfully he is now toilet trained and does the majority of his bowel movements directly into the toilet.

I am coming to believe that any disease you can’t catch from a soft play area really isn’t worth having. I bet if they dug right to the bottom of the ballpool, there would even be a smidge of smallpox in there. When the Health Visitor asked of the boys were up to date with their vaccinations, I actually just checked the calendar for our last trip to Wacky Warehouse. I’ve learned to love the coffee though, keeps me bug free!


What’s on the needles?

Blankets. Numerous blankets! I’m in a “starting” phase, and unfortunately that means the WIPs and UFOs are a little neglected. I did finish some gloves yesterday though! You can see the blankets when they’re done.

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