I’ve read a lot of blog posts about soft play, and they’re never about how someone took their kids to soft play and it was a really positive, stimulating experience and everyone left happy. They’re always about how soft play is like a squishy hell full of screaming toddlers, broken toys and filthy ball pits.
This did not stop me from taking the Popple to soft play this week.
At 9 months old, the Popple is too young for the main soft play area, but this place said that it had a separate space for under 3s. Plus the weather was sh**ty, plus if I had to spend another afternoon following the cat around the flat, I was going to lose my mind.
(The only thing the Popple wants to do these days is toddle around after my cat Milo – and since she can’t walk on her own yet, we both spend hours trailing Milo as he moves from the living room to the hallway to the bedroom and back again, in a desperate attempt to shake off this little person who REALLY wants to pull his tail.)
I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that, in many ways, soft play lived up to its reputation as a germ-laden inferno in primary colours. The play frames were held together with duct tape, the baby and toddler area was full of rowdy school-age children, and none of the walkers or toys that were meant to light up or make sounds had any batteries.
And the Popple loved it.
She wasn’t bothered by the grime or the mothers who were letting their kids go apesh**. (Not to judge, but…could you maybe just pretend to care that your hyper 5-year-old just threw a walker into the baby ball pit?) All she saw was a big room full of REALLY COOL STUFF. She pushed those battery-less walkers around with a giant smile on her face. She stood outside the play frame area and watched the older kids horse around. She slapped the plastic chairs in the cafe, because those were really interesting, apparently.
This is why babies are great. They don’t see the crap. Everything, even a sticky chair, is just another new thing that’s begging to be explored.