There’s nothing magical about the price tag, £14.95 for a two year old and a four year old, neither of whom would have minded if I’d just let them play in the muddy puddles in the park. And what gets me in these child factories is that once you succumb and paid the hefty price – peak season prices I might add, there’s not a single attendant on the death defying slides. It’s a place where anything goes and that goes for the parents too. I suppose you’re asking the question I’ve been asking myself, why bother? Thinking this would tire my two over zealous boys out, in the hope they’d sleep later and leave mummy mummy mummy to remember the days when I had a first name. We set out for an hour or two of so called fun. Not so much fun for the parents getting stuck up slides and squeezing themselves into claustrophobic quarters not meant for anyone more than two foot. My little sponges did learn a thing or two, mostly from children worse than mine. What gets me is this is not the first time I’ve experienced this and to think I’d come back for more. I deserve every bit of agony for this alone, and agony it was. Where’s the animals mummy? Heading to the bank I’m sure, the sarcasm lost on my son. They’re over there. Two snakes, four little half cooked monkeys and a lizard, that’s the whole extent on the magical animal collection.
But what they did learn is to climb, rough it out, and the world is a place full of bullies, many of whom inhabit play places. What they’ve certainly not learnt is any discipline, football tricks or where their talents lie. And don’t get me started on the parents. Well they’re mostly well fed and could do with a trip to the park instead of letting their sprogs run wild. Oh now that I’ve started on the parents, it wouldn’t be fair to stop there. It happens at the swing park also and ever parent, hostile or otherwise, will have shared this experience. Lionesses minding the queues at the slides or patrolling the number of pushes one child has over another in the swing park. Park politics or sometimes park wars as one princess skips another in the queue. Only to be told by a loud and brashy parent: “It’s ok darling the little girl just doesn’t know any better. “The gloves are off but instead of speaking like a normal person to the adult concerned some parents would rather use the medium of their children to unleash their fury.
At first glance the play places seem like the perfect place, a haven, and not the cash cow they really are. But the sweating, the need for air or rain, anywhere but this little manufactured box. The constant search for your children who remain largely out of sight is enough to make you go running for the Valium. If you do need to recover your child the only way is up through the maze. One of the cruelest play places I’ve seen is one in Inverness which has a day nursery within the building. I presume to allow the children metal stimulation and gawk at the others whilst they run loose. Having toured many of these establishments the only relaxing time I’ve ever had is when they are completely empty and it’s like a large playroom for your kids only, otherwise they are places filled with temptations, danger, and a whole host of frightened parents. If you don’t believe me try one on a Saturday afternoon and see the full extent of the horrors for yourself. Now getting back to the parents. Some are normal and look bewildered to be thrown into this world, others know it’s a dog eat dog world and are using this to test their offsprings’ restraint. It’s a real eye opener and a cultural experience. My son was particularly intrigued at the family decked in football strips complete with complimentary tattoos. What a sheltered life he’s had so far though I’m still thinking of an explaination for him.
From now on I’ll be finding open places or dark alleys over magical marketing any day.