Written by Ryan Warren | DadsApp
Inspired by the following posts
The Unmumsy Mum http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/the-unmumsy-mum-parenting
This trend of 10 Things… 7 People… 4 Life Hacks etc normally annoys me but seeing as I’m using it I guess I can let it slide 😁 Please take a look at the 7 Parents Commonly Found at the Soft Play.
Ahhh soft play. Your food is terrible, you’re dirtier my old football boots and you’re as loud as AC/DC turned up to 11. Yet somehow you draw me back. Time after time I come to you for shelter from my parent life. I bring my children hoping that this time… This time it will be different. You’re like a frenemy, I hate you to my core but you’re one of the only constants in my life.
But this isn’t about you soft play, this is about those that visit. About the people that visit your terribly spelled establishment that seems to follow the industry standard or swapping the ‘S’ for a ‘Z’ on kids. Why? Nevermind.
Your interactions with each of these people are often (but not limited to) the ‘Hi’ said in a high pitch voice because since you became a parent you’ve forgotten how to talk to strangers. A polite smile that lingers as you try to figure how you know them whilst they try to figure out how you’re plotting to kill them. The ‘it’s mad in here’ or ‘soft play aye’ followed by the parental tut both of which signal your disdain for soft play whilst masking your absolute dependence upon it. And of course absolute avoidance. A dance between two willing parties who do not want to interact in the slightest. Here goes:
1. The Resident
You bump into this person every time you go to the soft play. You can try to change your time or day of going to but this person will be there every single time. They arrive seconds before and leave seconds after. Like a ghost drained of all life they are just hollow shells of their former selves. Once you tried another soft play… And they are there too!
2. The Pervy Dad
For the mums this is the guy in the room constantly looking around, taking in each women, looking her whole body up and down. For the Dads, we know this guy. He’s trying not to look at any of the breastfeeding women. He’s desperately trying to look anywhere else. Before you know it he looks like he’s staring at bums & legs you name it. So he bounces his eyes from one point to the next like a squash court. But to men, boobs are mystical and somehow no matter how hard to try, you will accidentally end up looking. Stay strong dads.
3. The Chatterbox
This is the person that always tries to strike up a conversation when all you want is 10 seconds of peace. They will resort to the weather, straight up gossip ‘see her over there? her fellas a gangster’ and last but probably most common ‘is he/she yours’ even though you’ve been playing with the same child for 45 minutes and you’re identical. Let’s give them a break. They’ve not had a decent conversation in forever and the coffee is starting to kick in. Indulge them a little and have a wee chat in between WhatsApp conversations.
Which brings me to…
4. The ‘Bob Hoskins’
It’ s good to talk, get it? This is the person on their phone THE WHOLE TIME. Some in constant text mode and others talking the whole time. I’m not sure what they’re saying but it seems like it’s some sort of deal being made between China & Russia as its absolutely the most important thing in the world. Even the arrival of the ‘meal deal’ doesn’t end the phone call. This must be a big deal. Respect these people, they make our society tick… I think.
5. The Piper
This is the parent that just seems so natural around kids. They are trying to play with their own children but as they come up with cool things to do with the foam shapes and all the pit balls the children flock to them. Before you know it there’s an army of children doing this persons bidding. You look over thinking ‘what are they doing with my kid?’ before concluding ‘I don’t care I’m free for 10 minutes’. You’re glad they do this for the first 20 minutes or so then start to think it’s a bit creepy.
6. The Rambo
This is the dad or mum (but let’s be honest it’s always a dad) who dives about the ball pit like a former Marine with PTSD. No longer responsible for his actions. Fair play he apologises every time he hits your kid square in the face with the power of a jack hammer but after the 7th time you’re hoping it doesn’t happen again. Hoping because you don’t want to have to speak to this guy through fear of him burying you in the ball pit and getting all the kids to dive bomb you.
Best. Left. Well. Alone.
7. The Big Kid
This is the parent who seems who seems to be at the soft play entirely for their own gain. It’s like they’ve finally snapped and are having a Chief throwing the water tank through the window ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’ moment. The ball pit is nearly empty, they jump the queue for the slide, they zip line through 6 toddlers and crawl through the maze like rat looking for cheese. This is the person that’s given up caring, about what you think and the location of their kids too actually. Hard to tell if they’re still drunk from last night or so full of coffee they may now be Colombian. This person is my favourite. They’re finally free. Go forth my friend and enjoy yourself before the staff catch you and pop you in the extra padded room (where they store the pee’d on foam’.
I’m be honest here, I at one point or another have been every single one of these parents. It’s not an indictment on anyone, I’m not judging. Soft play is one of the last few safe havens for parents to chuck their kids in and relax. Have fun and stay safe.
Father of 2 children and Blogger/Founder of Dadsapp, an online resource seeking to provide support to dads through conversation.
Website | dadsapp.org