It’s finally stopped raining here in my little part of Yorkshire. So we can go out again. But as God turns off the taps, he also turns the heating off too. Yes, it’s bloody freezing. So while the idea of having a crisp stroll around my local area with my daughter, and risking hypothermia, chest infections and frost-bite is appealing, we decide to go to Wacky Warehouse.
For the uninitiated a Wacky Warehouse is an indoor play area, a large structure made up of metal tubes with foam padding attached so the kids don’t hurt themselves, as well as slides and tunnels everywhere. Yes, it’s essentially a building site – with ball pools.
This is what my local looks like:
I hate these places.
I don’t know if it’s the dungeon-esque quality of my local (look at how high up those windows are). Or maybe it’s the way they lock the gate behind you, subliminally suggesting that you can’t leave. But it’s more likely the fact that I’m trapped here, forced to run around a structure designed for children – not 39-year-old men – and contort my body through all the various tubes and pillars, for up to two hours. It’s like i’m a human rat in some freakish experiment. Only there’s no cheese at the end, just more slides.
I also question the cleanliness of them ‘Oh they are cleaned at least twice a week’ a friend of mine once told me. I knew she was telling the truth because she said the ‘at least’ bit in italics. Returning home after a visit, you look at the filth on your child’s socks, and you do somewhat wonder about the validity of this statement.
It’s also advisable to never enter one of these places with two children with a noticeable gap in ages. I went to one once, long ago, and took my daughter AND my son with me. I was on my own. My daughter, ever the one to copy her brother, decided that she would go up to the ‘big kids’ play area’. This was a mistake. She made it as far as the corner on the first floor – which just so happened to be at the top of the stairs leading up from the ground floor, AKA the busiest point in the whole room. We sat there, huddled together, as armies of bigger kids hurtled up and down, heedless to the terror they were instilling in me for my daughter’s safety.
My daughter didn’t care – she’d found an old biscuit and was happily munching on it.
That visit, as well as causing my two or three grey hairs to be joined by many friends, put me off for some time and made me vow to never return. At least, not with both kids.
But I have to come back, despite the fact that I hate these places, because I love the fun my kids have here. They blast around, like pinballs in a safely cushioned pinball machine, bouncing from pillar to post.
It gives me some good one-on-one play time, and allows me to go down slides, and mess around in ball-pools (again, I’m unsure as to the health implications of the plastic balls + sweaty people) something I wouldn’t normally get to do. It’s also a good way to keep the pounds off your waistline. I have seen many Keep Fit DVDs in my time, Beat The Bulge, The Hip And Thigh Diet, Eat Yourself Thin, Cut Off Your Legs And Lose 6 Stone Overnight etc etc.
They should do one called Lose Weight The Wacky Way. It just consists of you chasing a kid around for two hours, sure it sounds like hell, but it works. It also looks like hell too, if hell were full of hunched over, sweating middle-aged men. Actually, it probably is a lot like hell.
Except hell might charge more than £3.25 entry fee.
I regularly play the part of Wacky Warehouse Rescue Truck too. Oftentimes kids may come to these places accompanied by parents, or carers, who are not as ‘hands on’ as I am. They are more than happy to sit down and chat with their friends, or browse the web on their smartphones. They sit, blissfully unaware of the crying kid up on the third floor who managed to get over the high ramp, but now finds the way back too steep. I can’t resist helping the little explorers when this happens, even though to touch another’s child in this day and age is a risky business, I just don’t like seeing helpless kids.
So a necessary evil in my eyes, these soft-play areas. I suppose it’s not all about the adults having fun, or maybe I should take more of a laissez-faire approach. Maybe chilling out on my phone, while ignoring any cries or squeals that my daughter may cause others to emit, is the way to go.
No, I will continue to scurry among the tunnels of the warehouse, wackily wandering wherever my daughter goes, constantly checking my phone.
Not for browsing the web though, oh no.
To check the time, because once those two hours are up, we’re out of there!