There are only two types of parents in this world. Those who hate soft play and those who don’t know what all the fuss is about.
I’m in the former category. Why do I hate it so much? Because it’s a hot house environment where your sole job is to defend your kid from the sugar-fueled, unattended offspring of those who don’t know what all the fuss is about.
It had been a few minutes, three maybe. I looked at him, as encouragingly as I could, and spoke.
“OK, that’s good. It’s easy, just one, two, three and push.”
I’d tried to hide any stress (rapidly growing within me) from my voice.
My son looked back at me, seemingly unconvinced.
“We can have a cuddle when you come down the slide.”
“Just go down!” chimed in a boy, about twice the age of my son – part of the growing queue for the slide forming behind my little one.
“He’ll go when he’s ready,” I said, once again trying to appear calm – reminding myself that empathy isn’t a skill kids are born with. “Just one, two, three and push!”
It was going to be a long day.
After briefly considering trying to wrestle the pouch from the woman, I dismissed the idea. One of the issues of being a large man is, if discovered fighting with a Miss Marple look-a-like in the Co-op, few people are likely to believe that you didn’t start it. So I took another pouch from the shelf and began to walk away. She muttered something as I left. I ignored her (and the stares of the other customers) deciding instead to take refuge in the cheese aisle.
For some reason, for as long as he’s been verbal, my son has always mispronounced the word ‘Banana’ as ‘Baniana’. That rogue ‘i’ may not seem like much, but it means his pronunciation, with its extra syllable, causes giggles whenever it’s used. I don’t know why, but somehow the word ‘Baniana’ is funny. Worse than that, I’ve started to use it myself – in a totally involuntary manner – while out and about. If a child gets funny looks for saying ‘Can I have baniana shake please?’, you can be sure than a 40-something is considered very strange indeed!
It’s a funny thing: LIFE. Don’t you think?
We only really get any clue of what’s actually happening around us later – with the benefit of time and distance.
This is certainly true when it comes to parenting children. Now that I’m a dad of two, my perspective is COMPLETELY different to when I was at the coalface of childcare for an only child.