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or was this father: softplay etiquette

(175 Posts)
quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 09:35:03

Really can't work out if I'm being precious or not but this really irritated me. Took my 2 year old DD to softplay to burn off a bit of energy. She normally loves it and has to be dragged away. There was an older boy in there (I think he was about five or six) with his dad. Dad was "supervising" but in practice was actually glued to his mobile phone and eating crisps. Didn't interact with his kid at all.
As soon as we arrived this kid was in my DD's face, wouldn't give her an inch to play on her own. To be fair he was being friendly and not aggressive, but v v boisterous and he had absolutely no concept that she might not want him bouncing in front of her, following her everywhere.
I kind of tolerated this for about 10 minutes thinking better for her to learn to cope, but my DD, who is quite reserved, was clearly feeling cornered and a bit scared: she tried to go over the little rope hammock/bridge thing which she normally loves. He kept repeatedly going to the end of the tunnel and blocking it so she couldn't get out the other end and it was starting to upset her.
I then started saying, kindly but firmly "can you just give her a bit of space to play on her own, she's only little." Kid would back down after being asked didn't seem to get bigger point about space at all and just kept following her and trying to engage with her. Meanwhile dad was still sitting there texting. Hadn't interacted with his son in any way since we'd been there.
After asking the kid four or five times to give her a bit of space I finally said "look can you just leave her alone for a bit, she wants to play on her own."
At which point dad suddenly storms into action, says to me: "don't talk to my son like that!."
I said to him sorry but my dd is trying to play on her own and your son isn't giving her any space.
"You do'nt own this place," dad responds. "This is for all kids. Don't talk to my son again."
We left at that point. I was quite upset that DD hadn't had a chance to enjoy it and annoyed at being spoken to by this excuse for a father

I really don't know if I over-reacted but surely parents have a responsibility to intervene if their kids are making it uncomfortable for others, even if its well-meant.

Tryharder Fri 01-Feb-13 10:10:23

On the fence with this one. The Dad was rude and a twat but you do sound bit precious and if the boy was being a bit OTT, you should have approached the Dad rather than get sharp with the boy. The boy was presumably only trying to play with your PFB.

Perhaps it would be nice to encourage your DD to play with other children rather than by herself?

millie30 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:10:46

TBH if you don't want other children to give your DD space then soft play really isn't the place for you.

millie30 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:12:23

Meant 'if you want other children to give your DD space'

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:14:10

Oh gawd this could have been my DP (although not my son, hes very empathetic to peoples space and feelings thankfully.

But DP gets most defensive over our children, I obviously step in when Im there but forget Mother Tiger, more like tries to think of father version thats not twee


Tbh the father kind of could eat crisps and play on his phone as his child was older and would generally be ok. But yes, he should not have lept to his sons defense when he didnt understand what he was defending. Although it was probably an understandable, natural reaction, it was clearly a rash and slightly unfair one!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 01-Feb-13 10:15:53

I'm not sure a 5yo would understand the term "a bit of space".

I agree. Kid wouldn't have understood what he was being asked to do.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:17:04

What exactly did the boy do wrong then OHforDUCKScake ?

WilsonFrickett Fri 01-Feb-13 10:17:31

The dad was rude but I agree, a 5 yo (if he was even 5, was this in school hours?) wouldn't understand 'a bit of space.' I think you were being teeny bit precious tbh. Left on their own, kids sort this kind of thing out at softplay.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 01-Feb-13 10:18:09

It really gets on my nerves when normal behaviour such as friendliness and exuberance are viewed as 'naughty.'

Yeah me too.

YABU you should have moved your child to another part of the soft play, or said 'excuse me please' to the lad when he was in her way. I also think you are being harsh on the dad, a 5yr old at soft play doesn't need interaction, and he was clearly supervising or he wouldn't have noticed you telling his lad off. He maybe did notice him playing with your dd but chose not to get involved because thats what he was doing, playing.

nefertarii Fri 01-Feb-13 10:21:59

I can't decide 100% on the dad as it depends on tone.
I would be pissed if someone snapped at my ds, especially if they had not attempted to speak to me first.

yabu not to have spoken to the dad if it was really upsetting your child and he wouldn't leave her alone.
Yabu about the lack of interaction. I have a very clingy ds who is 2, who really couldn't care less where I am when I am soft play. I don't think he would even notice if I left. Usually he is always checking i am about. But not at soft play.

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 10:23:07

I have had to ask other children to give ds 'some space' - although i usually try explaining to the child that 'ds is a bit scared of other children, and just likes playing on his own, because he is a bit shy'. Then I try and explain to the adult, that 'ds is really is very nervous around other children, and sorry if it seems if we are being rude'.

I think you could have explained it to the boy in simpler terms, if your dd was upset. And I think the dad was out of order to be so rude to you.

There are lots of children who are a bit nervous of older children for all sorts of reasons, and they shouldn't feel they have to play with children they don't want to, even if they are in soft play.

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:26:40

I didnt suggest hed done anything wrong. hmm

I likened the sons father to my own DP and suggested that he shouldnt have leapt in before finding out what was going on.

Flobbadobs Fri 01-Feb-13 10:27:24

The Dad was rude but you should have spoken to him first.
Are you supposed to play with your children at soft play then? I must have been doing it wrong all these years... grin

allnewtaketwo Fri 01-Feb-13 10:27:42

Agree that a 5yo can't be expected at all to understand the concept of a "bit of space"

I've never been in a soft play that doesn't have a separate space for very young children (usually <4), as opposed to a main play area. OP is there no separate area in this one for very young children?

Agree with whoever said the child may well have looked a lot older than he was, especially if he was in the area for young children.

And if he was 5/6, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with his father not interracting with him in soft play.

But all that said, YANBU to be annoyed at the way he spoke to you, or that DD didn't get a chance to play

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:32:50


You said the father's reaction was rash and unfair. That implies his ds was in the wrong hmm

MrsMushroom Fri 01-Feb-13 10:37:44

I agree that you were perhaps a bit unreasonable. As Bupcakes said, when you have 2 year old, a 5 year old seems so grown up but they're not really....and as someone else said it would have been better too say "excuse me please, an you let her out of the tunnel?"

And the Dad could sit on his phone if he wanted...plenty of people do that. I don't really interact with my DC at soft play centres. They don't want me to!

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 10:38:17

Dad was "supervising" but in practice was actually glued to his mobile phone and eating crisps. Didn't interact with his kid at all.

This is me at softplay. DS is 5 and I love it that he's now old enough to run off and find other children to play with and I get a chance to have a coffee and read the paper.

I do keep an eye on him though and I'd be seriously pissed off if an adult told him to go away because he was trying to play with a smaller child.

I think he would understand "give her some space" but it would help to me more specific ie "she's trying to climb through this tunnel, could you move out of the way please? Then it'll be your turn"

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:38:30

No. Unfair, he should have asked what was going on.

I clearly said that. Clearly.

At no point did I suggest the son had done anything wrong.

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 10:40:08

BorntoFolk, would you be pissed off, if the parent saying it wasn't rude and also had a word with you?


OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:40:15

I do not think the 5 yo did anything wrong. Thus, I wouldnt suggest it.

You carry on reading what isnt there, I cant be arsed with a non-arguement.

1991all Fri 01-Feb-13 10:46:36

look at it from the dad's pov
All he saw was you telling his son not to play with your daughter

He might have looked up a few times and seen nothing untoward so kept texting
His son wasn't doing anything wrong

his child is just as precious to him as yours is to you

And he doesn't need to interact with his son at soft play

another child didn't play with yours the way you would have liked. I suggest you get used to it

atacareercrossroads Fri 01-Feb-13 10:46:41

Yabu, 5 is still so very young, and trying to explain personal space to a 5 y/o is like plaiting fog

Poor lil bugger, sounds like my Ds and makes me sad to think he'd have some adult having a go at him for just trying to be nice. You should have spoken to the dad as the boy wasn't actually doing anything wrong sad

Lindsay321 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:47:31

Sorry but YABU.

The dad was right to say "You do'nt own this place. This is for all kids".

You said the little boy was being nice just overbearing i.e. he was playing so why should he be removed?

DS sometimes get lots of attention from older girls at soft play who want to play with him and while it sometimes freaks him out I wouldn't ask the girls or their parents to move them away from DS. It's just kids interacting.

piprabbit Fri 01-Feb-13 10:48:06

The dad was being an arse.

The little boy however, sounds basically kind and like he was wanting to play (perhaps he was a bit lonely playing on his own). In that situation I have gently included the new child in my play with my DCs, showing them ways to play together nicely. My DCs generally seem to enjoy it (making a new friend is a good thing), and I hope the new child gets something out of it too.

However it doesn't sound the dad would have been keen on that approach either sad.

BubaMarra Fri 01-Feb-13 10:48:45

It seems you have an underlying judging attitude and acted accordingly. So in reality 'I was nice to a boy and tried to explain him my DD needed a bit of space' actually was more like you were trying to exclude him in a way he either couldn't understand or wouldn't accept and when you lost it, you just snapped at him very harsh words.
I can see that his behavior was annoying, but you picked all the wrong ways to deal with it. Also, he might not be 5/6yo, when you have a baby or a toddler, older children tend to look much older to you than they actually are. Something to consider next time you approach other children.

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