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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.

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 10:49:52

hazeyjane, no, I'd have absolutely no problem with someone speaking to DS like you described in your post. It's not a telling off is it? Just explaining that your DS is shy. In that situation, I'd encourage DS to go and find something else to do.

It's just that the tone of the OP's post sounded like she was frustrated and told the boy to "leave her alone" which is pretty rude, IMHO.

I do think that the father in the OP's situation could have tried to find out what was going on before launching into the OP though. He was being unreasonable on that count.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:50:42

Glad to see you agree the boy did nothing wrong ohforduckscake

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 10:51:57

phew, thanks BorntoFolk - I was worried because we actually have this situation a lot, and I just want to know that I am not pissing anyone off, whilst trying to do the right thing for ds, IYSWIM!


Soft play is a chance for parents to down tools for a bit and let their DC entertain themselves!!

The little boy was being friendly and personally I think the dad was right - you don't own it, it is for other kids too. If you didn't like the situation you should have removed your DD and let her play somewhere else.

I feel sorry for the boy actually, he probably just wanted someone to play with.

theodorakisses Fri 01-Feb-13 10:54:46

YABU for suggesting that he was a bad parent for not playing with his kid. For me, kindles are the greatest invention ever. I would have sat and read but then i have always felt nauseated by the loud interactive parents, they scare me.

MrsBethel Fri 01-Feb-13 10:56:31


What a tosser.

OHforDUCKScake Fri 01-Feb-13 10:56:57

Well thank God Ive pleased you Justgiveme.

I can sleep at night now. <rolls eyes>

Do you usually speak to people as though they are your 6 yo pupil?

Cherriesarelovely Fri 01-Feb-13 10:57:45

When my Dd was 2 she was reseverved too. She would've found that upsetting, yes you could have moved, or you could have jumped in yourself but the dad should have been keeping at least half an eye out for his son. I saw something very similar in a park. Child throwing bark relentlessly at other children, parent nowhere to be seen, grandparent of another child asked him to stop, mother leapt out of nowhere and said "how dare you tell my child off"! Oh, ok we'll all just stand here while you ignore your child and ours get hit in the face with bark!!! YANBU.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 10:58:32

haha. Just people who sound like Year 6 pupils.

<also rolls eyes>

landofsoapandglory Fri 01-Feb-13 10:58:44

The OP didn't ask the boy to go away, she asked him to leave her DD alone, after 4 or 5 times of asking because her DD was becoming upset!

I don't think YWBU OP. The dad was for jumping in and being rude to you when he had no idea of what had been happening before hand.

But the boy wasn't being aggressive, he was just playing!!

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 10:59:54

I see what you mean! I agree with you that little children shouldn't have to play with the bigger ones if they don't want to.
DS loves to play football with the "big boys" (big, grown up 9-10 year olds!) at soft play so I do keep an eye on him to make sure he's not making a nuisance of himself.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:00:23


Totally different situation. Throwing bark relentlessly at a child is dangerous and aggressive. OP says this boy was being friendly.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 11:01:10

Those of you saying I was a bit rude, I did feel bad about this and I wonder if I over-reacted but I had said it nicely to him about four or five times and he just wasn't getting the message at all. And it felt quite unequal because his physical boisterousness -- while not aggressive -- was basically preventing my kid from playing because every time she moved an inch he was there in her face. I tried to coax her into being a bit bolder and engaging with her but she was on the verge of tears.
FiveMinutes its not about viewing it as "naughty" -- it wouldn't have bothered me if he was being friendly all over the softplay area but he was just choosing to do it six inches away from my kid all the time. In practice his behaviour meant my dd was unable to do anything. I didn't see why my child should basically not be able to use the softplay because of this kid's behaviour and I would have liked the dad to use a bit of nous and deal with it.
But points taken etc....

Cherriesarelovely Fri 01-Feb-13 11:01:19

You don't have to be loudly playing with your kids (although if they are shy you might) but you do need to be looking out for them to some extent.

BornToFolk Fri 01-Feb-13 11:03:28

The OP didn't ask the boy to go away, she asked him to leave her DD alone, after 4 or 5 times of asking because her DD was becoming upset!

There's a fine line between "go away" and "leave my daughter alone" though, isn't there?
And if the OP was just saying "give her some space" the boy could easily have been confused about exactly what he was expected to do!

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:03:40

It is a minefield quesadilla I did once ask a boy to stop what he was doing but that was because he was placing mats over ds and his friend and then jumping up and down on them.

Cherriesarelovely Fri 01-Feb-13 11:06:44

No it isn't totally different, it is slightly different. If my child was being "overexuberant" to the extent that they were upsetting a younger child (blocking the tunnel etc) I would ask them to stop. The dad couldn't be bothered so OP asked him. She asked him four or five times and then she asked firmly. Completely reasonable behaviour. Reasonable response from dad would have been "oh, sorry about that I wasn't watching, is your dd ok?".

landofsoapandglory Fri 01-Feb-13 11:08:01

So the OP had to let her 2 yo DD be upset and not be able to play because the boy was only playing?

LucilleBluth Fri 01-Feb-13 11:10:02

OP do you only have girls, I say this because I have witnessed mothers who only have girls judge normal boy behaviour a bit too harshly.

Fwiw I would have reacted like the dad.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:10:11

We'll have to agree to disagree Cherries As I said earlier in the thread I don't like the fact that normal behaviour (friendliness and exuberence) are viewed as 'naughty.'

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 11:11:29

And tbh, what is 'exuberant play' to one child is just scary to another more timid one. They both have the right to be at the soft play, or park, but it is up to the parents to try and make sure they can both pay happily in their own space.

Just a child he doesn't know being friendly to ds can set him off, but I completely get that some children love to be friendly to little ones ( I have 5 and 6 year old dds too, who love to mother smaller children, and I always check it is ok with the parents of the lo), so i always try and be really gentle in my asking them to leave ds alone.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 11:13:57

hazyjane The point for me though is that the OP felt her dd's right to play in her way was far more important than the boy's style of play. That's why she insisted the boy should stop. That strikes me as very entitled.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 11:17:26

Lucille yes I've only got the one girl. And that did cross my mind as I realize that boys are often more exuberant/physical than girls and I didn't want to be hostile or rude to this kid.
But my dd has been to softplay loads and can cope with bigger kids chucking themselves all over the place. The issue with this kid is that he had singled out my dd and was determined to play with her and her alone and to be everywhere she was. And while that was kind of sweet at one level (and he seemed well-intentioned) she really wasn't up for it.
FWIW I don't expect parents to be totally immersed in softplay. But surely "supervision" entails being aware enough of what's going on to recognize when your kid is significantly p**** someone else's kid off.

quesadilla Fri 01-Feb-13 11:20:31

FiveMinutes I didn't feel my dd's right to play was more important than the boy's. But this boy could quite happily have played on his own or with the other 3 or 4 kids in there (and he had been doing so before we got there). But my dd literally couldn't move in there because he was blocking her every time she tried to move. I totally get that he has the right to let off steam and do his thing but I don't see why he should have the right to dominate someone else's experience of sp to the extent that the other kid effectively couldn't do anything in there...

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