I have a dream – of a soft play paradise. Let me tell you about it. Close your eyes. Wait… close them after you’ve read this.
Upon entering the vast space (airport big) you look up in awe at the ten storey adventure zone wrapping around the circumference of the room. All slides are transparent and wherever you sit / stand you have a full vantage point of all areas. Natural light is used in some areas and fresh air is pumped throughout.
It is amazingly peaceful, silent almost – because there are soundproof protector shields at every entrance to the soft play. You can walk through these – but no sound is emitted through either side.
You pay your minuscule fee and are immediately given three items :
- a tiny GoPro camera for the toddler’s forehead.
- a tiny tracking bug to place discreetly behind their ear.
- a large tablet / iPad device showing a birdseye view / map of the soft play area.
As the toddler waddles off to his adventure zone you take a seat with your friends in your massage chairs and watch the iPad. It shows a tiny red dot – your child – moving their way through the ball pools, down the slides, up the stairs and their specific coordinates. You can also flip to their head camera view to see what they see.
There are strict rules about what age group can occupy what part of the play zone. This is to ensure babies do not get trampled by nine year olds. There is one, well paid, member of staff to every five children – in every zone – making sure these rules are adhered to. If your child needs to come out these nubile members of staff with ninja like reflexes can retrieve a child in less than five seconds.
If your child is walloped your red dot turns neon yellow and gives off a siren. If your child wallops another child your dot turns blue and makes a loud ‘ding, ding, ding’ noise. If there is a full on scrap the speakers to the soft play bellow out over all the parents : ‘Incident in zone 8, Incident in Zone 8…code pink, code pink,’ as they drink their wine.
What’s that? You didn’t know there was wine?
Oh yes. Wine is the key component.
I’m not talking parents getting pissed up all over the shop – that sounds horrific. I’m talking about one glass of wine per parent. And none of that cheap shit. I’m talking the stuff Waitrose keep in that fancy wooden rack – A Chianti Classico or summit. The wine is served in a good quality glass, accompanied with Sicilian olives (fresh from Sicily that morning), parmesan and warm homemade bread.
The whole room smells of baked bread and summer and wine – there are no wafts of turd.
There are four areas for the parents to sit: The movie zone where films starring Goldie Hawn are played; The audio zone which just plays ‘French and Saunders’ old radio shows; The Literature zone has book readings of inspiring and current literature; and the music zone just plays Dean Martin.
There is a slide show in a secret fifth room that shows Tom Hardy pictures on loop.
New parents wear a green badge which shows they are new to all this and in need of support – old timers wear a grey badge and take it upon themselves to welcome new parents into the fold – friends are made, good advice is given, there is a general aura of love and support.
The bathrooms are spa like areas that play a hypnotising CD of power mantras for parents (“You are not a bad mother, this is just a phase, it gets better”) read out by Colin Firth (as Mr Darcy). The hand wash and toiletries are all by Jo Malone.
There are pit stops for the children where they have access to healthy snacks and juice/ water.
On your way out you are given a warm cookie and milk – your child is given a healthy oatcake and fruit smoothie. You are also given a warm hug.
It’s just another day for you and me, you and me in soft play paradise.
Dear Dragons’ Den investors – I am asking for a £1,000,000 investment in my soft play paradise and you can have a 10% stake in my company.
I don’t think we will make too much money – but we will make a fair few parents happy. Ta.
(I do realise I am mostly thinking of assets that will benefit mothers rather than fathers – I am happy to negotiate with fathers to make this soft play paradise work for us all)
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