I’ve often joked that I have three children because Mr. British Maple is a massive kid (fortunately he can just about feed himself and doesn’t talk about poo constantly either!) He’s always first in the ball pit or down the slide. Whilst others roll their eyes at the thought of soft play, Mr.BM is digging out his loyalty card faster than I can open a bottle of wine.
The Lord and the General love how fun Daddy is and how willing he is to be silly and squeeze himself between padded rollers whilst being chased by a mob of sweaty, demented kids (he usually temporarily adopts at least three per soft play session). They take for granted how lucky they are to have such an involved daddy and I get so many warm and fuzzies from seeing them galavanting around.
The latest instalment of Daddy Does Soft Play was down in St. Ives (it was the cleanest soft play I’ve ever seen, by the way!) and the entertainment levels didn’t disappoint. Mr. BM begrudgingly (he made me say that) chased the kids up and down obstacles, launched himself down slides and played monsters with random kids who screamed and squealed like a mid-thirty year old ‘girl’ at a Take That concert.
And then I heard the heart-wrenching scream of a terrified kid. He was sat at the top of the ball pit slide and looked petrified. Mr. BM’s spidy-sense was heightened, so he left his post as Chief Monster and helped the boy down. In the meantime, I looked around the seating area for his responsible big person, expecting to be trampled by a frantic mama rushing to her miniature.
Nope. Not a single reaction from anyone. So, I clambered the stairs two at a time to meet the sobbing little kid and offered him my hand (a risky move in today’s sad excuse for a society, but hey ho) and he grabbed on to it for dear life. I asked him where his mummy was and he said she doesn’t like slides and he was too scared to do it on his own.
I walked him down to the bottom where his mum had finally shifted her arse and gruffly told him “you’re alright, just go down the slide”. I was fuming. I have preached for years about not judging other mamas but I struggled to reconcile her reaction. I can’t even put into words what I wanted to do, so I just walked back to my seat rather than risk being banned from the establishment.
Later that afternoon, I’d been dragged from my comfy [coccyx-bruising] chair to participate in the frivolities and we came across said little boy, still eying up the slides. So, we duly adopted him and four small words made his day – “I’ll hold your hand”. He joined the BM crew and, after his inaugural foray into the world of ball pit slides, his confidence was sky high and he was having a ball (pun intended).
I’m not encouraging you to befriend random six year old children (that would be more than weird!) but perhaps a friendly word to show someone some support could help more than you know.
As for Mr. British Maple, he’s almost earned a free entry to Play Barn…happy days.