Spending an afternoon in a hot, sweaty and expensive softplay with my children this weekend made me contemplate a few things (and not just how dirty the bottom of their socks were afterwards). In fact, it made me think that in many ways softplay mirrors many of life’s great lessons…
- If it looks to good to be true, it probably is. Demonstrated by: the ball pit.
A vast ocean of colourful balls, calling out to children (and adults) of all ages to come on, dive in. Wait, I can possibly even swim in there, and look, in the corner is some sort of contraption blowing them into the air – it’s hyponotic, magical even. But beware – for it may look like a plastic eutopia, but do you ever really know what lurks beneath the surface? My bets are on a crusty old sock, used plasters, a manky dummy or worst of all, a pool of suspicious bodily fluid.
2. He who dares, wins. Demonstrated by: the giant twisty slide.
You’ve climbed up four storeys just to reach it and now you’re at the top peering down into the dark twisty abyss. Yes, there is a large possibly that you could slide down and encounter that dozy kid who has decided to climb the wrong way up the slide, whilst holding a giant ball, causing a catastrophic accident and leaving a trail of destruction in your path. Or, you could go for it, throw caution (and yourself) to the wind and fling yourself down it with wild abandon and enjoy the exhilaration as you hurtle (surprisingly fast) through the darkness towards the light. Life is all about taking risks after all.
3. It’s every man for himself. Demonstrated by: the obligatory giant bully who looks about 15, when in fact is only 5.
Battering every small person out of his / her way as he / she stomps about the joint, he / she purposely lands on others in ball pit, lobbing balls viciously at babies whilst the mother relaxes in the cafe section, completely oblivious flicking smugly through a copy of ‘Closer’. There’s nothing like the inner pride you feel when your timid child refuses to give up that plastic train, clinging onto it with every ounce of their being despite looking utterly terrified, or speeds off in the Cosy Coupe shouting defiantly “I had it first!”
4. You can never truly have enough money. Demonstrated by: softplay pricing structures.
You may have felt flush leaving the house with a £20 note in your wallet this morning, smugly thinking this will last you all week; but two paninis down and a Fruit Shoot later that’s you cleaned out. Plus the £5 entry you had to pay for yourself to enter the venue and you’re officially running on empty (however, does this mean I am entitled to swing about on that rope thing and cause havoc in the dressing up corner?)
5. Expect the unexpected. Demonstrated by: the unpredictability of a visit to such an establishment.
Will it be a poo in the pants on the only day you’ve forgotten to bring spare clothes? Or perhaps a giant meltdown whilst lying next to the food counter begging mercilessly for a packet of Quavers? How about a point blank refusal to leave at the end of the session, resulting in an exit manoeuvre which involves dragging a toddler out with no shoes (and at this point no pants or trousers due to earlier poo)?
One thing is for sure, expect the unexpected and don’t ever relax, keep your wits about you and don’t get complacent. Maybe one day it will be your turn to be the mum in corner with Closer…