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.