Soft play centres are, basically, my idea of hell on earth (well actually, my idea of Hell On Earth right now would be to be Hedi Slimane’s PR – but Soft Play centres aren’t far behind).
And, last week, due to the relentless rain, I spent a disproportionate amount of time in them.
Key reasons I detest soft play:
The Sometimes Odious Mothers That Frequent Soft Play;
Last week, Monday, Bubette and I are frequenting our local soft play centre. This is a particularly shitty one, consisting of a ball pit, a couple of plastic clowns and some sort of thing that could loosely pass as a slide.
4 mothers are sitting around in the middle of the mats ignoring their kids and gossiping conspiratorially.
Despite the fact that Bubette is playing with their kids, they blank me.
Then Bubette falls near them and I go to see if she is ok.
I hear their conversation:
They are actually talking about rice cakes. Baby rice cakes. Specifically the blackcurrant flavoured ones. In depth…
Then we go to the Leisure Centre cafe.
Actual comment I hear on the way to the café; ‘Soft Play really releases Jasper’s inner monkey’
Picture the scene at the cafe ; We are waiting at the counter when Bubette grabs a jug of water, the lid comes off and water pours absolutely everywhere. The cafe is full of Mothers with toddlers, but NONE of the mothers come to help.
What follows is one of those Michael Douglas in Falling Down type moments. I cannot tell you how much I want to let rip at these tossy women.
But instead, I do something far worse, something that is guaranteed to offend the Rice Cake Massive so much more.
I calmly and very vocally buy my kid a packet of Quavers
Sacré bloody bleu…
The Garish Colours
Why can’t Soft Play centres be nice dusky pinks and greys lit by Sofia Coppola?
Because kids love bright colours.
Indeed, Bubette often excitedly runs through the colours she’ll see at Soft Play.
‘I’ll see Yellow. I’ll see Orange. I’ll see Blue. Mummy I don’t want to see Purple’
This always reminds me of when a world famous rapper came to visit a store I was the PR for. He was prob the biggest star in the world back then and it was such a big deal to get him to the store. It took ages to arrange, I loved his music and was so looking forward to meeting him.
Do you know what he said to me when he arrived?
‘I only want to see Blue things’
Yep, he only wanted to see Blue things. Not just to try blue things on, he totes expected us to clear the store of things that weren’t blue.
Specifically he wanted us to get all non blue things out of his sight with immediate effect. And he wasn’t even taking the piss. He was as Mad. As. A. Box. Of. Frogs.
The Sometimes Atrociously Behaved Kids that Frequent Soft Play
Bubette and I were at Soft Play in a big city. Bubette was 18 months old. She was therefore in the babies area. There was a kid who was at least six in the babies area. He was ramming one of those plastic moulded cars at the babies.
He started chasing after Bubette in this car, so I went in to get her.
He said to me ‘I’m going to get you now’
Then he rammed my shins, again and again.
I told him to stop, he sniggered and ran over my toes.
It hurt like hell.
Now, bearing in mind I have a kid of my own and know how naughty they can be, and bearing in mind I’d read a lot of buddhist books by this point of my life and knew never to react. Do you know what I did:
I leaned really close to him and half snarled / half whispered
‘Just Piss Off’
Reader, I really let myself down there I’m afraid.
The Dirt and Therefore The Germs
Let’s just not go there, it’ll only make my OCD flare up
Towards the end of last week we went to stay at one of those kid’s holiday parks. Frankly I was dreading it, mainly because it had a 3 Tiered Soft Play Centre.
Bubette spotted this as soon as we got there, so I couldn’t even pretend there wasn’t one.
This soft play had actually got a few things right, in terms of crucially there was a separate bar area for parents. So we went there in the evenings, to tire Bubette out before bedtime.
Picture this idyllic family scene;
I have a very large glass of wine (just to ‘take the edge off’).
The ‘DJ’ starts playing loud music;
The Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’
My foot starts tapping
Vanilla Ice ‘Ice Ice Baby’
I’m totes up dancing
Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’
OK, I’m actually hula hooping now
Genius, why can’t all Soft Play Centres be like this???