There are a few words sure to cause panic and fear amongst parents of toddlers.
“I can’t find my poo, where did I leave it?”
“But I’m not tired!” especially when uttered at 3am
“It’s up my nose / in my ear”
“My poo is stuck in my bum, can you help me?”
“I’m sorry!” when you don’t know what they are sorry for.
But perhaps the most scary is the “Can we go soft play now, pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?”
And after countless “emergencies” you can no longer put it off.
You have to don your superhero cape and pray like hell you survive.
Here’s how you shouldn’t behave, apparently!
Our soft play centre has 2 distinct areas, one for tiny toddlers who like to cause small yet regular mini heart attacks in their parents as they clamber up steps and try to dive head first back down, bypassing the more logical route of the slide.
Because who doesn’t like hearing that sharp intake of breath as a parent lunges to catch their bundle of joy by the ankle before the kid tests just how well their skull has fused together?!
The other area is for the slightly older kids, yet always seems to be full of kids who are surely too big for such a place and those parents “demonstrating” to Cuthbert how to climb up the netting, swing across the monkey bars, somersault into the ball pit, climb up the climbing wall then slide down the wavy slide without touching any surface with their hands, because there is just not enough hand sanitizer!
These feats of parental ninja skills need demonstrating repeatedly resulting in a group of parents having a face off, until one unfortunate roundly chap gets stuck in the tube tunnel, it’s his own fault, it wasn’t part of the pre agreed route.
The lucky few, those parent’s who manage to nab a table, sit in protective mode; trying to drink a piss poor excuse for coffee, but it’s hot so who cares? Whilst shooing away those pesky scamps who keep trying to nab the Hula Hoops and are eyeing up the chocolate buttons with a determined glint in their eye last seen on the Kray Twins.
Then the worst happens, you hear your kid scream, not an “I’ve broken my arm / someone’s trying to kidnap me scream”
No this is the cry of war that legends are made of, the one which makes you seriously consider packing up and slinking out the back door before anyone realises it’s your kid making all the noise.
You really only have 2 choices, stay where you are, protect your stuff and let little Jr sort it out himself, or give up and wonder aimlessly around trying to identify your child amongst all the other Thomas / McQueen / Batman / Spiderman suited, snot covered blurs that speed past.
You eventually find him, sat on the platform in front of the monkey bars, he doesn’t want to go forwards and is too scared to come down.
So, up you climb.
You gently lower him to ground and out the corner of your eye see the monkey bars…….
You have to do this, it’s family pride! You just have to conquer those monkey bars, demonstrating a “can do” attitude for Jr.
So, you launch yourself off the platform, grab the first bar and start swinging along to the opposite platform, you accidentally lose a non regulation flip flop in your graceful bar swinging, but it’s okay, the supervisor is holding it for you.
Once across to the other side, there’s only one thing to do, enter the ball pit. A wave of balls spill over the side as you call upon your Olympic diving skills to gracefully enter the Pit of Doom, small humans are pushed aside as you fearlessly make it to the other side, ignoring the random non ball shaped items digging into your feet.
Calling upon your inner Bear Grills, you haul your tired body out the Pit of Doom and conquer the climbing wall, make a mental note to look into trips to Mount Everest, upon reaching the summit you stand proud, punch the air and catch a much need breath.
All you have left to do is take a running leap on the slide, extra points for landing on your knees, you run, you leap, you hear a pop from your knee but style it out with a weird yell that could be from pain or happiness.
As you glide to a stop, you notice the supervisor is standing there with your bag, flip flop and your kids who look torn between pride and embarrassment at your amazing skills.
The supervisor slaps your flip flop against your chest, drops your bag at your feet and asks you not to return until you can behave yourself.
Flip flops on, bag over shoulder your children following like an adoring crowd, you saunter past the other parents and kids, snatching your chocolate buttons off the snotty nosed 4 year old and wave them off with a “later suckers, next week PAINTBALL”.
I may or may not be allowed back to the soft play centre, they haven’t decided.