Our day at soft play with all the judgemental parents:
Occasionally, we drag ourselves to hell on earth – soft play. Soft plays can be a nice experience if you have the right aged child, and that child is not in a hitting mood. But this is a rarity. Chancing upon the ‘correct’ age is even rarer. Children slightly beyond toddler years are more likely to go and play independently. Perfect age. Babies obviously need constant supervision, so prepare to catch any wayward toddlers from falling on your baby. But, toddlers…probably happy to play independently in the designated toddler area, but they may migrate in to the baby area, and then you have to go with them to stop them building a tower on top of a baby’s head (yes, Ava, I’m talking to you!). They may also want to go on the gigantic slide that might as well be at the top of Mount Everest, so you go with them to keep them safe. Siblings may look after each other dependent on age, but if they both need supervising and go in different directions, say bye bye to your conversation and off you go. And if you’re on your own in this situation, what were you thinking? This scenario reminds me of the long ago distant memory of date nights we used to have when all you can eat Chinese buffet restaurants were popular. We used to go intending to be romantic, share conversation, enjoy each other’s company, whereas in reality we spent most of the time apart going to fill up our next plate.
On one particular occasion (more than one occasion, let’s be honest), all was going well when Ava decided to hit another child. It was one of those equal fault situations where they both wanted to use the slide at the same time but being stereotypically English I apologised to the parent, got Ava to apologise to the child, and held my breath for the response…
There are 2 types of parent in this situation:
1: The understanding parent.
They just accept the situation, say their child does the same, briefly pauses her conversation with you to stop her child hitting another and agrees with your excuses* of:
- she’s over tired
- she learnt it from a little shit at nursery
- the new baby has made her more difficult
- because she’s 2
- I fed her after midnight Gremlin style (side note: all of these excuses also work for a toddler refusing to sleep. Side, side note: I often bribe her with chocolate in both situations. Side, side, side note: it didn’t work)
- She got bit by a zombie in the apocalypse and doesn’t understand human behaviour anymore (a euphemism for becoming a toddler)
- Other – add your own in (ideas can be written in the comments section)
*Use excuse as appropriate.
These are the easiest parents, the one I try to be. I figure it’s best to be kind, always, as you just don’t know what they’ve had to endure that week, just how many Peppa Pig episodes they’ve had to sit through, how many I spy with my little something blue (no mummy, you’re meant to say red, then I can guess the red flower) games they’ve had to play. Bottom line, be kind and understanding, because people need to check in on people with toddlers, we are not OK!
2: Then there is the judgemental parent.
They don’t accept your apology, they don’t accept your child’s apology, and they don’t accept any of your very relevant excuses. They look at you as if you taught your child how to hit others and specifically targeted their child. In this situation is it just me who thinks that the judgemental parent deserves everything they get. I’m chanting ‘Jerry’, ‘Jerry’, ‘Jerry’ (must try hard to keep this is my head and not out loud) while Ava hits her little precious child. She says her child has never hit anyone. She says her child doesn’t know how. I say ‘well don’t you worry about that my dear, my child has taught your child now’, and I watch her face in horror as precious runs off to hit a child. You’re welcome.
These are the ones that also judge you for being on your phone rather than watch your child play. Don’t judge a mum who is doing this, she’s clearly Googling private schools and how to parent without bribery. Just kidding, she’s on Instagram and enjoying the peace that will soon end when her child hits someone; she knows she’s got at least 10 minutes before the sugar high hits.
I was told off today. Rafe was busy playing in the baby area and I wanted to go on the big slide so mummy couldn’t watch us both. I braved it alone bur there was a very annoying girl who decided that she was going down the slide first, so I hit her. Mummy made me apologise. Mummy then did this awkward silence thing she does when she expects the other parent to apologise back, it didn’t happen. This made mummy think she was going to be one of those judgey parents whose kids are Bubble Wrapped (I like to pop the Bubble Wrap mwahahaha). Luckily, the mummy said she understood, her child is the same…hmm…perhaps we could be friends after all…shall we play together?
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