So I flounced and huffed and insisted that this was not what my blog would be about. That I had loftier things to talk about. That I did not spend my days in a state of low-level simmering rage about the injustices of life. That I categorically did not believe that the world would be a nicer, better place if everyone just followed a few basic rules as defined by, well okay, me.I have managed eight whole posts without ranting. I think I am entitled to a teeny, tiny moan. Maybe a gentle reminder about The Rules. Because, let’s face it, we all have our own version of The Rules, our own personal code of laws to which we expect those around us to conform or incur our silent (or possibly not so silent) wrath.
So. Soft Play.Yes, I have posted about Soft Play before, but I spend a lot of time there these days, so I have had time for extensive observations and I have reached the conclusion that certain basic concepts are escaping many fellow frequenters of our local play gym. I have therefore prepared a draft set of Rules.
1 If you are going to take offence at your precious firstborn being unable to use every piece of equipment exactly when he/she wishes to do so, this is probably not the place for you. Stay home.
2 If you choose to disregard Rule 1 then do not stand and make pointed remarks like “I am sure the little boy will get off the trampoline soon and then you can have a go” when the child in question has only just got on to said trampoline after waiting patiently for the last five minutes. Nobody likes a hoverer.
3 If you disregard Rule 1 and Rule 2, do not then permit your child to vacate said trampoline and follow the other child to the next piece of equipment and repeat the pointed remarks outlined in Rule 2. The reason the other child’s mother has that strange, wonky smile on her face is because she is gritting her teeth and trying not to say rude things.
4 If you are at a children’s play gym, please note that the clue is in the name.
i) Do not attempt to make your child engage in complicated gymnastics routines on the beam while a row of pre-schoolers are hopping up and down with impatience. When your child refuses to oblige, do not then get up on the equipment yourself in order to ‘demonstrate’ said routine. Everyone is looking at you and thinking “pillock.”
ii) If you are 6’4” and built like a rugby forward do not look surprised when the play equipment creaks and buckles alarmingly as you leap joyfully onto it. And when you fall off and nearly flatten a passing mum and toddler, please note that ‘sorry’ is a more appropriate response than ‘whoops, hee hee hee.’
iii) You know the sign saying ‘Do not climb’ on the wall bars? That means parents as well as children so do not be surprised when you are reprimanded by the supervising staff member. Seriously. It’s just embarrassing.
5 If your child has already walloped another child five times in as many minutes, do not stand smiling vacuously as he goes in for a sixth attempt. It is highly unlikely that he is “just saying hello”, no matter how much you would like that statement to be true.
6 If you do not comply with Rule 5, you forfeit the right to look all aggrieved when the wallopee finally loses patience and wallops back. The wallopee’s parent retains the right to really not care that much about your disapproving pouty-face.
7 If the rules say ‘Under 6s Only’ this is not open to interpretation as ‘Under 6s Only except for my really well-behaved 9 year-old who will only run about a little bit and really can’t be blamed if toddlers keep getting under her feet’ or ‘Under 6s Only except for my pre-teen who needs to look after my other children so I can gas-bag with my friends and occasionally shout “do be careful darling, you really shouldn’t be in here” in a particularly wet tone of voice’.
8 If your small child is climbing up the slide, thus holding up the lengthy queue, you will be the subject of many glares when your only response is to smile vaguely and trill ‘I’m not sure you should be doing that, sweetie-pie’.
9 And on the subject of queues – learn to queue. Really. It’s not that complicated. It just involves you not allowing your child to repeatedly jump off the swing and run straight back to the front of the queue. Sighing pointedly and saying “well, just one more go and then it really is someone else’s turn” is fooling no-one - they have heard it seven times already.
10 When another parent manages to prevent your unsupervised toddler from launching himself into the path of the rope swing for the third time and gently suggests that he should go and find his mum, the correct response is “thank you so much”, as opposed to a tut and a glare as though said other parent picked your child up, swung him round by his ankles before hurling him into the ball pool while shouting “take that, spawn of Satan!”
These Rules are in draft form and I am open to suggestions for amendments and additions if anyone can think of anything I have missed. Before I grave them on stone tablets and hang them above the door of the play gym.