Friday, 8 August 2014

Let The Games Begin....

Picture the scene.

There are people all around me. Everywhere I look....but I can't focus on anyone in particular because they're moving too fast.

Their faces are a blur. 

They're all either screaming as loud as they can, or panting for breath....trying to run as fast as their legs will carry them.

I duck for cover into the nearest alcove, and a body falls at my feet...I gasp and jump backwards just in time as somebody runs toward it screaming with weapon in hand, dives on top and starts kicking and punching as though his life depends on it. 

But the one on the floor isn't hurt like I first thought....they're kicking back. Shrieking, biting even. Anything to get the upper hand in this struggle for victory.

I'm too dumbstruck to act....I sit silently watching and cowering as another person runs onto the scene....this person is much bigger, she yanks both of them upwards with ease and runs off out of my view....shouting obscenities as she goes.

I look around, panic-stricken, trying to find what I'm looking for....

But it's all too much.....the bright colours are throwing my senses off, and the insanely loud warblings of dated pop music is making it too hard to concentrate.

You see, this is not me in the midst of a war-torn country as you may first have, no.

This is my afternoon at our local soft play centre.

Before I had children I thought of soft play as happy, safe places where hours of carefree fun could be had as Mums & Dads sipped happily on frothy coffees.

Oh how naive I was.....little did I know that these places are germ-infested, sticky pits of doom. Something akin to The Hunger Games for children, where only the strongest survive unwounded to be rewarded with a plate of mystery meat nuggets and their parents sit and try not to rock back & forth while trying to find their Happy Place.

I locate my target....there he is in the "Over 4's" though he has every right to be there despite having 3 more years to go before that privilege is earned.

He's sitting right in the middle of the danger zone....with burly 6 & 7 year olds whizzing all around him, laughing hysterically with crazy eyes as he takes in the chaos and carnage.

I take a deep breath and head off to bring him back to the safety of the Toddler zone....

I'm struck repeatedly on my legs with flying weapons of destruction (or multi coloured balls...) as I run onward, desperately trying to clear my head and find a strategy....I feel the sting of pain but I don't give in.

Suddenly an army of 5 year olds on a blatant sugar-high swarm the all happens so quickly, and I before I know it he's surrounded.

He looks up at them with glee, he doesn't sense the danger...or perhaps he does and thrives on it.

Two of the older children are now right next to him, an argument has broken out over whether or not Peppa Pig is better than Spiderman....they're shouting now....I can see where this is heading.

I pick up the pace and sprint across the floor at a speed that would make Ussain Bolt look like Barney Gumble

 I stumble over an object that blocks my path....I hear the high pitched squeal from beneath me and realise I've knocked over a small girl who is now crying and threatening to "tell Mummy" on me....

I don't have time to be sympathetic, I move on quickly as I see the fight above my toddlers head has now come to blows.

Just then, one child shoves the other backwards with all of his might....the child stumbles and begins to fall....right in the direction of my toddler.

I lurch myself forward with seconds to spare, performing some sort of bizzare forward roll and scooping the toddler up and out of the way just in the nick of time.

I heave a huge sigh of relief and check the toddler for any visible war wounds....he chuckles at me and claps his hands in approval at my choice of venue for the morning.

Just as I'm about to tell him off for venturing away from the safety of the toddler zone, I remember the small child I took down on my mission to rescue my baby....

My eyes dart around the room and then I see her....still crying ever so dramatically, scanning the room for her parent....

I watch as she searches and heads ever closer to the lady in the corner....

A very muscular looking lady with tattoos on her knuckles, a skull & crossbones on her top, very few teeth and a shining black eye who looks as though she could destroy me with one flick of her finger....

Please no.....Please do not let that be her Mummy....

I silently pray as I watch in trembling fear.

But it is. Of course it is.

The little girl turns around and points a finger straight at me, and her Mothers angry face growls a bulldog chewing a wasp....

As she starts to rise from the sofa, I do the only thing I can.

I grab the toddler, and run for the door as quickly as possible, leaving the wails and shrieks of Soft Play Hell behind us for another morning.

"Bye Bye Soft Play....". I say to the toddler, as I strap him into his car seat...."See you again on Wednesday".

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