When your kid is manic or the weather isn’t good, where you gonna go? Soft play! And rightly so. These easy to explore, safely padded worlds offer your toddler more exercise and stimulation than just about any other activity out there. The only downside is that you will inevitably have to share the soft play facility with loads of other kids letting off similar amounts of steam. Kids who tend to fall into the following categories…
Several signs explicitly state that eating is prohibited inside the soft play fences, but if a child is getting hungry and angry, what’s a mum or dad to do? Pick him or her up and carry them to the specifically designated eating area that is about 20 yards away might be the logical answer, but Hungry Kid’s parents don’t think like that. They reckon their little prince or princess is above the law, so see no problem with shoving a packet of yoghurt in their gob in situ. Obviously, it goes everywhere. Obviously, they do a pitiful job of cleaning up. And obviously, they are also flaunting the no shoes rule.
Blink and you miss this bundle of energy, who is usually male and often wearing just a T-shirt and nappy. He charges in screaming, scales the fences, empties the ball pit, climbs up the slides, throws anything that’s not stuck down across the room and then storms out, never to be seen again. Take away the ringing in your ears and you’d wonder if it was all a dream.
Shy Older Kid
If you had a little more time and patience you would endeavour to explore, and perhaps even attempt to fix, the issues that have left this six or seven-year-old humming and mumbling to themselves in the area for under-3s. But you don’t, so you’re simply going to ask them to budge up and give your child a slice of the ball pit action.
Full Nappy Kid
My nostrils! My eyes! How are Full Nappy Kid’s parents not able to smell this? And why has my little one chosen to follow Little Miss or Mr Stenchbottom around?
This tag does not refer to the cherubs who steal toys, poke eyeballs and shove people off soft rocking horses (they all do that). It refers to the borderline demonic toddlers who think it’s funny to chuck plastic balls in your face from a distance of around three yards. In your dreams you grab some ammunition, wind up your throwing arm and fight fire with fire. In reality, you do all you can do. And by this I mean, meekly ask them to stop and then threaten to tell their dad.
This kid is cute. And at some point in the future his or her peers will realise this. Right now, however, they want their personal space to remain personal. Thus poor Hugging Kid experiences nothing but face-pushing, balance-toppling rejection. You’d think all this hate would make them reassess their actions. But no. Every time they get knocked down they get up again, arms open and smile beaming. It’s enough to make you cry. Or it would be if you weren’t telling your child off for bundling them over.
Toy Hogging Kid
The smaller the soft play, the easier it is to pinpoint the child who gets more than a little feisty if anyone attempts to touch, move or, worst of all, play with the object they’ve chosen. It’d be easy to blame in the parents, but in North London these challenging specimens tend to be accompanied by their grandparents.
Confident Older Kid
Confident Older Kid is supposed to be taking care of his or her younger sibling. But since that job is B.O.R.I.N.G, they’ve decided to see how quickly they can scramble up the stairs, across the netting, through the poles and down the slide. It’s a potentially dangerous activity you should probably be discouraging, but another parent has bet you a £5 they won’t duck under the 20 second mark, so stuff health and safety. Go kid, go.