Friday, 14 February 2014

Sloppy Soft Play

My'Dude' all ready for soft play partying!

On Wednesday it was my nieces 7th birthday and Eliot had been invited to her party at a soft play centre. I'd recently read Hayley's post about soft play over on her blog Sparkles & Stretchmarks and worries about hygiene were already in my head! Then my sister said reviews about this particular place weren't great, so I guess I went in with some pre-conceived thoughts! Still I remember having A LOT of fun at soft play centres as a child and was excited about seeing Eliot's reaction as it was his first ever soft play visit and birthday party.
When we arrived and got settled I took Eliot into the area for younger children. There were two gated off areas, one for under 1's and the other for under 4's. As we approached I could see a ball pit in the under 1 area and not much else. Apart from four boisterous boys who were well over the age of one chucking balls at each other and playing very roughly. I wasn't impressed and had to rein in my 'teacher mode', reminding myself I was not in my classroom and I had no authority. Now I expect kids to be letting off steam, especially after school but this was dangerous behaviour especially for babies and toddlers.
Needless to say we swiftly moved on and went into the under 4's area where a mum and her toddler were playing. It had more to do anyhow. I went to put Eliot in the ball pit when the hygiene worries became paramount. I peered in and it looked grubby. Grubby balls, grubby soft cushion things, just grubby! But hey I'm still here after soft play expeditions so how bad could it be really?! In Eliot went, looking a bit perplexed and not really 'fussed' by the experience. I helped him stand up against a cushion and he played with a not so 'grubby' newer looking ball.
Suddenly the four boys appeared, one clearly over 4 so yet another place he shouldn't have been playing in. The other mum eyed them too and commented it was getting a ' bit rough'.
My niece came in to see us. I turned my back to play with Eliot and before I knew it my niece was tapping me to tell me that 'that boy hurt her', whilst pointing him out. He'd thrown a ball in her face. As I was trying to ascertain whether it was an accident I heard tears. It was a little girl who happened to be with the party. She told me a boy had 'slapped her in the face'. I was fuming especially when I saw her glasses had been knocked off. She pointed out another of the four boys as the culprit. My 'teacher mode' got the better of me and I spoke to the boy who'd thrown the ball in my nieces face. When I asked if he'd thrown the ball I got a response I've seen countless times as a teacher. No words, shaking of the head and guilt written all over his face. I asked him who he was with, no response. So I found the nearest member of staff and explained, she said she'd get the manager to deal with the behaviour issue. I told my sister I was tempted to speak with the parents but she wasn't for it and it wasn't Eliot that had been hurt so I didn't. I don't even think the behaviour was dealt with by staff!

It's got me thinking about how I would deal with future situations with Eliot. What would you have done?
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