As I write this I’m sitting in the corner of a soft play area, notebook on the table, a hot drink next to me and my discarded shoes on the floor…
I have to apologise if my thoughts seem disjointed, punctuated as they are by shouts of elation, squeals of glee and the general hubbub of a small room crushed to its very brim with over-wrought toddlers.
So soft play. This is a fairly new phenomenon for me. Holly has only just become interested in such fun-filled, padding protected frolics. And although soft play has been available in the north east for many years, its advent came just a little too late for me and my older brother.
I remember it was Dickens (now Boundary Mills) which first introduced the joy of soft play to the area. Alas, the innovation was a few centimetres too late for us both as our immeasurable excitement was cut heartlessly short by a burly, brusque man telling us “Sorry boys,” (I was often mistaken for a boy back then) “the soft play is only for small children.” Still, I’m not bitter…
And so, on a bleak spring (ha!) day, when the traditional outdoor park is nothing but a pipedream, this soft play is a blessed relief indeed. I can curl myself around a hot, comforting coffee and sit a while.
But I can never get quite comfortable in such a situation, because before long the dulcet tones of my very own over-wrought toddler will demand my company on the plastic and padding clad apparatus to help her up an over-tall step, through a slightly precarious creep hole or over a gravity defying net which halts her playing progress. Hence the aforementioned discarded shoes under the table.
And I like to pretend that such forays into a child’s world are a nuisance, a chore. That they disturb my grown up reverie and tear me away from many an important thing. But really I love to venture into the colourful maze to save my little lady from her imagined tight corner. Mummy to the rescue. Because I love that she needs me so much. And because I know that all too soon she won’t automatically shout ‘Mummy’ when she’s slightly unsure and I’ll barely get a glance over her retreating shoulder as she goes off to play with her friends.
So what if my coffee goes a little cold and my article goes unfinished? I’m slipping off my shoes, rolling up my sleeves and heading, on all fours, into a fun, hectic, over-warm world where my daughter explores, learns new skills and pushes her own boundaries in the name of play. Where I can rekindle my own happy childhood memories and help Holly to make some of her own. Because who knows what her first memory will be? Just as long as it is crammed from side to side with laughter and smiles, I’m a happy Mummy.
by Helen Bowman © 2013
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