Soft Play

Are we a magnet for soft play angst?

As I was getting ready for the school run this morning I was thinking how nicely this school year seems to be going and how we seem to have a nice weekly routine going. When Little Bean was tiny we would have regular weekly meetups with our friends Karin and Ella going for walks in Stamford and out for lunch. For a long time once school had started our meetups were a little less regular and we would see each other as often as we could so it’s been nice since the start of this school year that we have been able to get together every Thursday at our local Van Hage for the boys to play in the small soft play, whilst Karin and I enjoy a coffee and a catchup over breakfast.

Soft PlayThis morning we arrived early and had a look in the Aquatics shop and the pet shop before meeting up with Karin and Sam. All was going well, the boys were having a blast and Karin and I were chatting then everything changed. I don’t know about other parents but I keep a watchful eye over my Beans when we are in any kind of play area. I know how things can change all too quickly. Jelly Bean makes regular trips back to me to check in but on the whole gets along and plays with everyone else. His latest thing is to tell children off (although he doesn’t actually say any ‘real’ words he just grunts at them) so when I see him doing that I remind him that it isn’t his place and redirect his play to something different. I’m not daft, I know that all children can get a little ‘heavy handed’ at times and mine are certainly no different. But as I sat there today talking to Karin, I saw a little girl perhaps 3-4 years of age kicking Jelly Bean in the leg, then the head and then his tummy whilst he was sitting on the floor leaning against a large pyramid cushion. My instant reaction was to shout out “stop, stop” as I got up and went over to where the children were. By the time I got there the little girl had stepped back from him and so I said to her “you don’t kick children sweetheart, that’s not nice” and then repeated it again. Within seconds her Dad was stood by my side asking what was going on, so I pointed to the little girl and said that she had just kicked Jelly Bean in the legs, head and tummy. He told me there was no need for me to shout at her as she was obviously upset so I asked how else I was supposed to stop her from carrying on when I was the other side of the room? He picked his daughter up who was crying and told her “it’s ok darling you’re not in trouble”. He took her away without explaining what she had done wrong and without making her apologise even though she said she “only kicked him”. Another mother was stood in the entrance to the soft play when this all happened and said to me “he was wrong, he shouldn’t have spoken to you like that”. I sat down with Jelly Bean and Karin for a few moments until JB decided he wanted to go back in. No sooner had he gone back in than the man appeared at my side to tell me that he “wasn’t happy that I had shouted at his daughter and that she was deeply traumatised by the experience” as he was running back into the soft play area and that my son “didn’t appear bothered by it”. He then said “children learn from others don’t they” which I questioned him “what’s that supposed to mean?” but he just repeated it so I have no idea what he was trying to insinuate? I was so frustrated at the situation I was visibly shaking, so it didn’t help matters when he came back to me just a few minutes later to say “your son is now laying on the floor of the soft play and they are running around so why don’t you move him before he gets trodden on”. That was the final straw for me, I picked up JB and strapped him into his pushchair and then returned to get Beanie Boy from the soft play area. Again the mother who was there asked me if I was ok and I said no I wasn’t, she patted me on the shoulder and said again “he’s in the wrong, not you love” so we returned home. The whole situation really upset me as I am not horrible to other people’s children ever BUT I will not stand by and let another child hurt one of mine.

I will go back there again next Thursday as I am not going to be put off by him but I am sick of this happening. This is now the third or fourth time that I have had similar incidents occur in soft play so I’m left wondering whether we are magnets for it or is it just that nobody else watches their child to see what happens and these incidents go unnoticed?

How would you have dealt with the situation?


  • MumtoC

    October 10 at 8:58 am

    This is an awful situation and Im sorry I wasn’t there as I would have voiced my opinion. Yes, you definitely can’t stand by and watch your child be hurt by any other child, especially when your child is significantly younger than the one who is lashing out. If someone had said one of my children had kicked a small child I would be mortified and at least ask them why they did it, even more so if my child said “I only kicked him”!! I remember being in a soft play area with a friend when C was around 2 years old. My friend’s children were about 8 and 4. My 2 year old had been scratched in the face by another boy, around the same age and he had also done something (I can’t recall what now) to my friend’s 4 year old. The family who he belonged to were sat in the cafe area of the soft play area, and they eventually figured out that their son had hurt mine and my friend’s child. My friend is quite outspoken and was asking them if they were going to speak to their child about it. Well, the torrent of abuse she got back as horrendous. My friend didn’t back down, but eventually I just said to her to no longer continue speaking with them as she wouldn’t get anywhere. Considering my son was 2 or 3 at the time, he still remembers that day and always says that he never wants to go to that particular play area again. These days I’m afraid there are too many people who don’t resolve situations like this, and it is a very sad situation as children should be able to understand that behaviour like that is not acceptable. I hope you are feeling better today and sending you lots and lots of big warm hugs xxxxx

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