Give me a litter of pups or a pack of rabid dogs rather than send me to a children’s soft play area in the midst of half term. So when a close friend suggested a lunch date recently, my hair started to prickle but this particular friend I hadn’t seen for an age and really wanted to catch up so I reluctantly agreed.
I arrived 10 mins early for our date and so allowed my two girls, 5 and 2 to remove their shoes and run off into the abyss of children while I suffered my palpitations quietly in the corner under the cover of a quick Facebook check and responded to a few client messages trying to mentally drown out the screams and sheer din that children en mass inevitably make.
My friend arrived around half an hour after me with her 5 year old and 12 week old baby. As she sat down I happened to get a wiff of a stinky nappy which sent my mind flying back a few hours and the sudden, soul destroying realisation that I hadn’t brought my nappy bag with me and therefore had no nappies or wipes for my two year old.
Of course, I instinctively knew that the stench was my 2 year old. Happily scooting passed me for another go down the slide so I gripped her and armed with a nappy the size of a new borns and my friends pack of baby wipes too I headed for the baby change room to deal with the atrocity that awaited.
To be fair, it wasn’t as bad as I expected, the only issue being my daughters commendable efforts to kamikaze down the slide had rendered her original nappy un trust worthy and she had leaked a little onto her tights and the back of her dress.
Having to think on my feet I cleaned her up, stripped her dress and tights from her. It was warm in the soft play any way, these places typically are to ensure the children ask for lots of drinks and snacks in between pretending they are super heros or searching for what I can only describe as debatable buried treasure including but not exclusive to; odd socks, well chewed dummies and the odd soggy blood spotted plaster from the ball pool.
Off she toddles back to her friends in the nappy we have resourcefully made fit and her vest while I withdrew to the table hopeful of an adult conversation with my friend.
There was no such luck as the next minute I realised that there was a commotion at the base of the big slide and heard murmurings of “someone’s poo’d on the slide..” feeling my cheeks glisten I tried to ignore it. My daughter was of course now clean and therefore the faecal matter coudn’t possibly be hers…could it?
I could feel all eyes on me, maybe I exaggerate through paranoia or maybe it really was this bad but I felt judged, these other mothers, maybe 20 of them in the soft play, had clearly never experienced their child embarrassing them or a situation residing from motherhood that was even marginally uncomfortable. RUBBISH!!
I decided the best form of defence was head on and I collared a member of staff asking if the issue was now resolved and, if it was in fact my child from her previous nappy that had smeared the slide, I would happily go and clear up my own mess. Relatively speaking obviously. I was reassured by her, this very young waitress that it wasn’t a big deal and I should sit down and relax. As she said it, a cry went out from another member of staff that the soft play was now closed for the next 20 minutes while they addressed a cleansing issue.
Que all eyes on me. I didn’t know how to react, I really wanted to stand up and shout that whilst we are all only human, we are all parents here. All Mothers in the main that are all winging life as a mummy, not one of us were born into this, we plan and we research and we read but NOTHING prepares you for what’s needed from you emotionally, physically and mentally to be a parent and a good one at that. We are ALL winging it, just some show it less than others.
I wonder how many of us comment on breeding posts on social media and judge the person writing the message? We assume they’re incompetent or depending on our own disposition, we assume they know better than us. After how many litters do we have to breed to be classed as “experienced” ? When do we stop needing one another for support and not judgement?
How many of those mothers staring at me in the soft play café wanted to lean over and say “don’t worry that happened to me last year” for fear of repercussions, clearly no one wants to be friends with the mum who’s kid s**ts on the slide!
I’m lucky, my friend found the whole thing hilarious and I’m a pretty tough cookie that it was water of a poodles back for me but how about next time we see someone in an awkward situation or we see someone being hounded over a particular query on Facebook, think outside the box and ask them if they need help.
They might just thank you for it, after all, it feels nice to be nice xx