Soft play: The Satanic cesspit of despair

mummy's writing darling

It was on Friday, at around 10am, as I sat crossed legged trying not to show the room my granny knickers, on the PVC floor, wearing odd socks, in a tiny sweaty square next to a tinier ball pool watching my son take part in some sort of world record for how many balls in the ball pit he could caress with his tongue and teeth, me playing the “whose turd can I smell now?” game, wondering where my unsupervised precious first born was, because let’s face it, he’s on his own now, watching several women shovel thick cut yellow chips into their mouths eyeing Jeremy Kyle on the screen (and not their children) all the while protecting my one year old from the heavy set unsupervised nine year olds wearing steel toe capped Doc Martins in between their fag break that I decided once and for all that soft play is the worst place in the world. The worst place on the planet. It truly is a cesspit of despair.

It’s a lie you see! A conspiracy. They lure you in with the beautiful word combination: Soft, Play. How calm and safe that sounds. What a sanctuary that must be.

First it’s not bloody soft. Well it is, but there are quite a few hard bastards wandering around just waiting to nut your child for a fruit shoot.

Then there’s ‘Play’. Well, not really. It’s too overcrowded for that. My one year old didn’t want to play – he wanted to suck and explore with his tongue every piece of soft play paraphernalia that I can only imagine has never ever been wiped clean or disinfected since the day they opened their doors ten years ago. It was probably purchased second hand.

It’s completely un-policed. The staff don’t give a shit. All around are redundant signs and rules: No shoes; But Pocohontis over there is wearing thigh high platform boots. Please wear socks; Crusty mum and dad toes all around me shredding like confetti. Babies only; bloody Jessamy over there has got a nicotine patch on is reading The Spectator. Toddlers only; Zeus has got a fucking NUS card.

All the mums must have been like me once upon a time but now they’ve given up and thrown their offspring in to the cesspit just hoping they’ll make it out alive. There are only a few cautious new mums loitering on the perimeter, stroking their baby’s faces, shuddering, whispering “we’ve made a grave mistake, this is not for you, this is not for you.”

Hoards of desperate parents are at the front desk begging to get in for this ‘fun’. But the place is over its limit. The noise level alone makes me heave. The workers are on strike in the kitchen because their request for industrial ear defenders as part of their uniform has been rejected.

And all around me are knackered mums pouring turkey twizzlers and Slush puppies into their mouths (at 10am) washed down with the shittest warm milk (latte) you’ve ever experienced. Most of them aren’t even there. They’re outside playing Pokemon Go swigging Gin from a hip flask.

That’s it for me. I can’t do it any more. Soft play – our time is over. Now I’m off to have them both disinfected and their jabs re-done.

Can I suggest instead of soft play you purchase several soft cushions from the pound shop and scatter them around your living room. Then invite around one, small, well behaved, clean child and enjoy.

Soft play? Shit play.

 

 

Why the mummy hangover is the worst hangover in the world

mummy's writing darling

Why the mummy hangover is the worst hangover in the world

It’s three o’clock in the morning and a man whispers into your ear the most erotic phrase known to a mum:

You promised you’d get up with them.

What? What the F… Where am I? What is that noise? Is that a recorder? and….and… a tambourine? Who gave them those? I will find them and I will kill them. Why can I taste gherkins? and salt? What day is it? Is that a tattoo… Percy & Thomas BFF? Whose shoes are those? When did you get a fillet of fish? Why don’t we have painkillers in this house?

What’s that smell? Oh…the…indignity! 

I don’t get out much. I think I can count on my hands how many times I have been ‘out’ since becoming a mum. My social life basically now revolves around Line of Duty and drinking wine at home in my pyjamas. A Saturday night is when you’ll most likely see me opening up the Just Eat app and perhaps, tackling a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a nice harbour or steam engine. I generally go to bed at eight thirty unless Love Island is on.

So when I get to go out I am more than a little giddy. In fact – I am ecstatic. I am ruddy thrilled. I’m like a toddler at toast time. And that is before I start drinking.

The mummy hangover is like a regular hangover but times 8000. Why? Well.

  1. You were already drunk before you went out – drunk on the idea of a night off from the kids, drunk on freedom, drunk on getting dressed up, drunk on life!
  2. You are too excited. People will find you strange. Stranger than usual. You’re like a small Shitzu humping the legs of any adults there because you can talk about things other than superworm and Thomas the shunting engine.
  3. You will be overly generous with your money and buy drinks for everyone there, strangers even because you “never go out! The drinks are on me! I love you all” even though you basically live on tax credits and selling old coats on ebay.
  4. you’ll want to drink all the drinks. No more cold tea for me but oooh. Look at the choice. I’ll have to have all the drinks because I only go out once a year. So let me just taste all the cocktails on the menu.
  5. Before you leave you’ll tell your other half that you’re so grateful to be able to go out and leave the kids with him that “you’ll get up with them in the morning.”
  6. Typical hangover cures are off limits to you. Full English breakfast? Nope. Hot shower? Nope. All you’ve got is Balamory, cold coffee and a three hour aimless search for painkillers in a house where all you can find is junior calpol and antacids.
  7. Noise, so much noise. Noise. Too much noise.
  8. Bed? No you can’t go back to bed.
  9. My head. My head.
  10. I usually go to bed at eight o’clock. You will never ever ever get back those hours of sleep you missed.

 

So there you have it.

On an unrelated note. I went to see Absolutely Fabulous last weekend in a cinema that served alcohol. I can’t remember much of the film but I can tell you that I woke up in my bra, I had seemingly bought every meal that Macdonalds make on the way home and had an Uber bill for close to £40.

My husband informs me that I woke him up on my arrival home as I couldn’t figure out how to shut the door and was just slamming it continually against the frame.

 

 

The back of your head

mummy's writing darling

The back of your head 

 

Sometimes, when I’m counting the hours till your bed,

I catch sight of the back of your head

Once tiny, delicate on tiny limp shoulders

Now larger and more perfect with every day you grow older

Your golden curls fall loose and free

as free-willed as your distinct personality

I can’t comprehend you are in fact mine

my beautiful, darling child of mine

I made that head,

I made that mane

And a lonely tear falls from your mummy’s eye

and I will kiss your head every day till we say goodbye

sometimes when I’m busy counting the hours till your bed

I see how precious you are and savour every single second instead.

 

Wake me up before you poo poo

mummy's writing darling, leeds

Last Monday morning, at around five, as I sat, semi naked on the toilet with the door wide open, my eleven month old clinging to my right leg smacking a maraca on my knee, green snot pouring from his nostril, his full nappy bulging at the seams, all the while making a siren type noise, and my three year old clung to my left leg, asking me if I was doing a wee or a poo and congratulating me on weeing “all by myself,” before demanding chocolate biscuits for breakfast, I had an epiphany.

I don’t claim to be the oracle of parenting – but I have figured it out. I think I have worked out the hardest thing about being a parent to young children. Eureka, I’ve got it! It’s not the loneliness, the guilt, the sleepless nights, the exhaustion, or being constantly kicked in your fanjo.

No! It’s the mornings; specifically it’s the waking up. 

Waking up used to involve preparation. Perhaps a specifically chosen alarm that eases you into the day like constellation or crystals or night owl. Perhaps you prepared a cafetiere of expensive coffee and a warm pain au chocolat. Even if you were feeling really crap, a long hot shower would sort you out. And failing all that, putting on a full face of make up and a nice outfit would really help you to face the day ahead. Mornings – though hard, were manageable.

Then you had children.

The only way I can describe mornings now are someone waking you up at the moment they open the plane doors and push you out for a surprise sky dive. Wake Up GOOOOO!!!

What the Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucccckkkkk, This parachute won’t open!!

It’s like waking up as someone plunges you into the deep end of a swimming pool. And the swimming pool has several floaters in it.

It’s like waking up on the starting line of a hundred meter sprint at sport’s day.

It’s like regaining consciousness and you’re sat on a University Challenge panel and Jeremy Paxman is shouting at you “come on… come on…”

My mornings now have zero preparation. I know I ‘could’ set an alarm earlier and do all of the above. But the idea of forgoing sleep at any point (when we are on such basic rations – hmmm, nah). Also I don’t fancy setting an alarm for 3am.

Mornings now involve hearing several high pitched screeches (particularly nice when you have a hangover) and me ‘playing dead’ before realising it’s not an option.

Then the second my foot is on the floor it’s full speed ahead. Like stamping on the accelerator.

Then straight away it is a conveyer belt of poos and piss and snot and tears and screaming and toast and weetabix and Tellytubbies and fluorescent TV and the Gruffalo and cold tea and cleaning and cooking and hoovering and rushing around like a headless mummy chicken. All of which is done half dressed, with a full bladder, and resembling Waynetta Slob’s exhausted sister.

And you don’t get to stop and really ‘wake up’ till 7pm when you hear that bottle uncork. Now ‘that’ is the best sound to get me moving.

Please don’t wake your baby brother up

mummys writing darling

Every single morning starts the same. 4am. And yes we have black out blinds, and yes we have a sodding Gro-clock, and yes we have tried later bedtimes, earlier bedtimes, no naps, naps, more food, less food.

The only thing we haven’t tried at this point is a tranquilliser gun, but if they manufactured a toddler safe medically approved one – I think we would go for it.

But that’s ok though because he is three now and is fairly self sufficient. He can be left to enjoy squash and toast, playing with his trains in his room specifically designed for self sufficient play with trainess. He even has his own telly now. Happy days.

The foil to our cunning plan is two fold. Firstly he can not seem to understand and follow very simple instructions and two, we only went and buggered it all up by having a second child.

So I creep into his room at four and tell him to stop that endearing shrieking noise he is making. I pop on ‘Tale of the Brave’ a lovely Thomas the tank engine movie that if they ever lose the script for I can speed type it for them and if it becomes a West-end play I am more than capable of playing ‘Marian’ (Olivia Colman no less) without any prompts. I get him a refreshment and start the simple instruction part of the soul destroying routine.

“Ok now darling, it’s ok for you to stay in your room and watch Thomas and play with your trains, ok darling? That’s fine. BUT, and I must emphasise… BUT please, please, please be very very quiet because Daddy is asleep and your baby brother is asleep. I don’t want you to wake up your baby brother ok? So be really really quiet. Ok?”

All of this is sang in a Julie Andrews type whisper.

“Ok” he nods. Job done.

Within seconds, through the wall, I hear the following:

  • Some sort of train based sports day is taking place, with races, hurdles and an awards ceremony. Lots of cheering, clapping and reading out of train names.
  • Wailing and sobbing intermittently each time his track becomes detached.
  • An entire Shakespeare tragedy is being played out starring twatting Thomas and fucking Ferdinand.
  • Singing of entirely made up, and significantly long songs.
  • Stamping of feet which could give a herd of wildebeest a run for their money.
  • “MUMMY, MUMMY, MUMMY, MUMMY, MUMMY, MUMMY?”
  • “DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY?”
  • I want pink milk!
  • I want cwiisssps!
  • A top class impression of Elmo on acid having an intense conversation with someone in space with no hearing aid and no phone.

 

During this I go in and out of his room attempting to sssshhh him and explain again that it is very early and I need him to be quiet. He nods. And repeat.

My voice soon turns from Mary poppins to someone possessed by the Devil trying to still be seductive. Have you ever shouted at someone while still whispering? It’s quite a feat.

And then I hear it, the short but distinctive gurgle of the baby brother awakening from his slumber.

And so we are up. It’s 4.30. And by ‘we’ – I mean me – after all, the husband “has to go to work” doesn’t he? While I pick my bum for the day.

Arses. All of them arses.

Neighbours – I’m sorry.