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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.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 20:18:17

The OP isn't saying the father shouldn't have recated Frustrated, just that he shouldn't have been rude. He could have recated (when he first heard her ask him to move away) by asking his son to move away or explaining 'he's deaf, he can't hear what you're saying' or 'he has SN, he doesn't understand what you're saying' or 'he's just trying to play'.

CrapBag Fri 01-Feb-13 20:25:28

Sounds like you were being a helicopter parent and not giving your DD any space either tbh.

When I take my DD, I let her be as long as I know where she is and I can see her, not follow her around every where. Oh and as for my 5 year old, I would be sat down and let him come to me when he needed to, so you banging on about the dad not "interacting" with his DS, FFS! Get a grip.

I do think that the boy should have maybe listened when you wanted him to leave your DD alone but I also don't think you actually explained yourself properly to him. I doubt my DS would have understood the term 'give her some space', you snapped at a boy who was, by your own admission, being friendly because you didn't explain yourself properly. I don't think it makes you sound great really.

FrustratedSycamoresRocks Fri 01-Feb-13 20:34:58

outraged I get that the father shouldn't have been rude, but feel that the OP could spoken better to the child in the first place, as in used language that a young child could understand the meaning of.

fluffypillow Fri 01-Feb-13 20:36:25

Hmmm, this is a tricky one. I think the Dad was BU for not supervising his child, as I really feel that in places like this you need to make sure your DC is behaving appropriately and not being a pain in the arse to others.......


I do think you were a little U for not handling the situation better. Involving the child would have been a kinder way to do things. You often find older children can be really sweet to little ones, and they may have had a good time together if you had been a little more welcoming.

It seems you were too busy seething about what his Dad was doing (or not doing) that you took it out on the little boy.

I know it's hard when other children don't behave in the way you would like, but the reality is, your DD will meet all sorts of children (yes, boisterous boys a plenty!)as she grows up, and if you are there while she is little, and encourage her to mix and accept that children are different, and play in different ways, then she will be more accepting of others when she is older.

coldcupoftea Fri 01-Feb-13 20:40:00

Agree with the above- with a 5yo you need to be more direct,eg 'can you move over please so DD can get through! Thank you!' (in a bright and breezy nursery teacher voice!)

If it was me I would have probably taken DD off to play in the 0-2 section for a while, then if he followed you could say 'oh, this section is only for little childten, sorry, why don't you play in the big boys section'.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 20:40:10

I think that's a fair point frustrated, the little boy maybe didn't know what she meant, if the father had got involved earlier and used language that he knew his son did understand it would have been better all round. Maybe the OP isn't used to speaking to 5 years old? I doubt she was purposefully using language he couldn't understand.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 20:41:29

coldcup I think the OP has said there aren't different sections at this softplay.

Matildaduck Fri 01-Feb-13 20:49:23

Why do people go to these places? Seriously they are full of un supervised children.

PopMusic Fri 01-Feb-13 20:50:17

Children at five-ish don't know what a bit of space means tbh (teacher here). I don't think you were yabu tbh - you tried to be as polite as possible. Some kids just latch on don't they and have no concept of boundaries, or rather how to adapt to younger/smaller children - I see it all the time during free play and playground duty.

Dad was being unreasonable though.

PopMusic Fri 01-Feb-13 21:01:55

matildaduck these places are nightmares. Not only are a lot of children unsupervised but its children of all different ages/sizes in a state of excitement within a fairly enclosed space.

We only go because DS loves to. I feel I have to closely supervise him - a helicopter parent, if you will. Most children are lovely and I've seen older ones help the little ones (and I end up helping them too grin) but there are always a few who are too aggressive excited to care and its these children I have to keep my DS from because he gets very upset when they push him aside etc.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 01-Feb-13 21:22:24

Read your post again. It's ambiguous. I also think you are being unduly judgemental of a five-year old child hmm

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 21:28:58

It's really not. What did I say about the child that was 'unduly judgemental'? grin

hazeyjane Fri 01-Feb-13 21:29:11

crapbag - 'helicopter parent' - really! Op'dd is 2!

youmaycallmeSSP Fri 01-Feb-13 21:34:36

YWNBU but I would have approached the father before it got to that point. I also have a 2yo (boy) and it drives me nuts when I end up supervising someone else's child at soft play while the child's parent sits playing on their phone and drinking coffee. There is a balance between following an older child around getting in the way and ignoring them for 1.5 hours.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Sat 02-Feb-13 14:46:06

[no comment

ProphetOfDoom Sat 02-Feb-13 15:07:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CrapBag Sun 03-Feb-13 22:20:11

Yes Hazey. My DD is 2 as well and I don't hover around her in a soft play area in the day when it is quieter. Although there are only 2 where I live, 1 is small and I would know roughly where she is anyway and if not I would certainly hear her, the other one I wouldn't let her in the big area as it is too big for a 2 year old but has a large toddler area with a gate so I sit down and she is free to play. I can't see her 100% of the time but she will either be in a house or in the sensory bit if I can't actually see her at that time.

If the play area is that big that a 2 year old cannot go at least a little bit by themselves then its probably not age appropriate anyway.

hazeyjane Mon 04-Feb-13 09:52:02

It is great that your dd is happy to play with you at a distance, but some dcs aren't, and are happier having a parent close to them when they play, it doesn't make them a helicopter parent.

Hullygully Mon 04-Feb-13 09:57:39


he should have kept an eye and intervened at an earlier stage when it was clear your child wasn't happy.

That way his dc does begin to learn about space and boundaries.

CrapBag Mon 04-Feb-13 10:12:01

The DCs who aren't generally happy to play at a distance are usually the ones who have had the parent hovering around them all the time in general. They are then used to it so are not capable of playing without a parent there.

I am not saying that is whats happened in the OPs case but out of my group of friends who all have children, the ones who want and need constant adult input and attention are the ones whose parents haven't left them alone to develop playing independantly.

elizaregina Mon 04-Feb-13 10:39:17

sweeping generalisation there crap and maybe true in your case but certainly not true in mine,

I also helicopetered parent when my DD was two ish in these places becauses of children the op described but also ALOT worse - acts of true violence - I would happily sit next to the under 3's bit and watch her and get some time to read a magazine or just sit! HOwever because other paretns are not supervising in anyway - the older children ran rampage in the under three section.

Not everyone has a way with children and is able to talk to them appropriatly when needed - I used to feel extremly uncomfortable when in a situation where another persons child was causing a problem.

NotADragonOfSoup Mon 04-Feb-13 12:22:22

he should have kept an eye and intervened at an earlier stage

The whole "incident" only appears to have been 10 minutes, during which time the boy actually did very little other than try to play.

hazeyjane Mon 04-Feb-13 12:28:33

I think it is just personality, crapbag. Dd1 always wanted someone near her for reassurance, dd2 couldn't have cared less and would have nosedived into the middle of the ball pool in a heartbeat.

elizaregina Mon 04-Feb-13 12:37:36

I certainly watched out for my DD when younger - and she is the most socialble outgoing child ever - absoluty everyone notices it - she just wants to join in and go off - and do her own thing, she has never clung to my skirts.

PopMusic Mon 04-Feb-13 21:25:30

I don't agree with you crapbag - it's a bit of a sweeping statement. My DS is perfectly happy to play Independently but when there are lots of kids who are older and rougher and too excited to see young ones or stop and wait for them before pushing past, it can cause problems. I used to leave DS when it was a school day as hardly anyone was there who was older but now he is of a school age, I have no choice but to go round with him (he retaliates) Because we only go during the holidays or weekends. Plus he loves mummy going round with him.

I've also helped a lot of other children who either get stuck or who've been hurt by the older ones or defused situations. But then I'm a primary school teacher and I have no problems speaking to children about their behaviour grin

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