So you’ve decided to take your little one to a soft play area. You think it’s going to be a walk in the park? Think again. You’d have been better off taking them for an actual walk in the park than visit one of these danger factories. Not dangerous for your kid, though. They’ll have a literal ball (pool). No, I mean dangerous for you, the adult. Let me give you some reasons why.
You may think a slide is innocuous enough, we all know the score, you sit at the top and let gravity take over. For some reason, when you’re a kid this works fine, but now that you’re a grown-up, you’ll encounter all manner of difficulties. Wearing certain materials can cause you to become stuck halfway down, or reach the bottom 18 seconds after everyone else. Sometimes the curve of a particularly ‘exciting’ slide will catch you unaware and more or less snap your spine in two. And then there are the thrillseeking bellends who take it upon themselves to climb up the slide. As a parent, I have no time for these cretins and have to actively fight the urge to bomb down the chute and send them flying like idiotic skittles.
Quite often, ball pools are regarded as ‘safe havens’ as you can sit down in them and hide from your kids/other kids/other parents/your line manager. But, be aware! Whilst they may seem innocent enough, the balls can sting when thrown hard enough. (And believe me, they’ll get thrown hard enough). Get enough of the older kids in there and it’ll make downtown XXXX look like Sesame Street. Send your precious little angel into that ball bashing battle and you may as well be shoving them into the middle of a Crips vs Bloods gang fight without a stab vest.
Every soft play seems to come equipped with one of these little bastards. It looks like a mangle your gran used to wring out her unmentionables with, but the rollers are wide enough apart to facilitate one small child. Not you though, you giant ape. Whilst part of you will get through, some vital part of the anatomy (chin, ankle, bollock) will get unnecessarily squished in your flailing attempts to force your way through. Fear not, however, as there is almost always an alternative way around these bad boys for the larger kids. Never thought I’d say this, but God bless child obesity!
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why these things are even in a soft play at all. They sure as hell aren’t soft, and they’re actually a danger to both kids and adults alike. The hanging mesh net thingys always have gaps big enough to ensnare unwary hands and feet and the climbing rope thingys are simply friction burns waiting to happen. Ropes should be used by boy scouts, fishermen and sheriffs in the Old West when they need to hang a bad guy. Nobody else has any need to be messing around with them.
So there you have it, a not quite exhaustive list of the various pitfalls and perils of your average soft play. Join me for part 2, where I’ll discuss the best tactics to escape with your dignity (and vital organs) intact.
Sam Smith is a father to one 2 1/2 year old boy and does a bit of writing in his spare time. He lives in Worsley, Manchester with his better half, aforementioned toddler and 2 house rabbits who don't give anyone the time of day. Hobbies he would like to do but doesn't have the time for include gardening, astronomy, stamp collecting, drone flying and photography.