Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

DADult Life | January 20, 2021

Scroll to top



Soft play things: Case of the vanishing father

Soft play time

After I found the motivation to get an early morning workout in the bag, the rest of Saturday was spent chauffeuring Jenna around as she sought new locations to run her buggy boot camp.

She was all set for a gym sesh afterwards and I was all set to chill out at home with our daughter – napping ideally. Total miscommunication had taken place though, as Jenna was under the illusion we were going to wait in the lounge area of the gym while she got a sweat on, but said going on her own was “okay”.

“Okay” – I knew better than to fall for that. “Okay” is the next door neighbour of “I’m fine”.

I bypassed home and drove us straight to the gym. While Jenna was cracking out bench press and tricep dips, I fed Roma and proceeded to roll around with her in the soft play area.

Ah, yes, soft play.

Before Roma was born, I was asked by DaddiLife before what I most looked forward to about fatherhood and one of the things was indeed soft play. I’ve since discovered that some parents find it a hellish experience, however, I was having a good time.


Things soon got nuttier than a bag of peanut M&M’s.

A dad asked me if I’d be in the vicinity for the next 15 minutes and able to watch his daughter while he went for a quick shower.

Since it was my first time at soft play as a parent, I was unaware whether asking a stranger to monitor your child in order to obtain a break from duty is common practice (is it?!), but I cast the peculiarity of the request to one side and agreed to help him out and keep an eye on his seven-year-old.

We’re all in the parenthood together, right? At least that’s what Instagram has taught me. I wasn’t going anywhere immediately, so what was 15 minutes between dads?

That said, I know I’m not a nutter and I wasn’t going anywhere with his child, but he didn’t.


“That was a long 15 minutes.”

“Yeah, sorry about that…”


I mean, during the workout, had he generated B.O. so intolerably rancid that he would sooner leave his daughter in the care of a random than wait for a shower indoors? You know, where she would have been under his care.

She was no trouble anyway – thank God; what would or could I have done if she was a demon child?! – and it wasn’t long before a pair of siblings asked if she wanted to play, so off they went charging around. It’s not an oversized soft play, so she couldn’t disappear without me knowing it, which meant I could rest easy with that peace of mind and keep Roma entertained at the same time.

I didn’t actually check the time her old man left for his deep clean – a schoolboy error I now realise – but Jenna probably rocked up around 20-25 minutes after he’d gone, at about 6.10pm, which meant he was already overdue.

Related posts:

Big Fish Little Fish: Interview with the genius inventor of family raves

Children’s centre activities: Venturing out to SaturPlay

Taking infants to theme parks – has Chessington World of Adventures cracked it?

Key takeaways from going cinema with a newborn baby

Other than the alluring meatballs and pasta awaiting us for dinner, there was no immediate need to dash off and we got to have some soft play time together as a family. But given how engrossed we were in the moment, we didn’t realise how late the time was getting.

Softcray 🔴🔵 #DADultLife #DadTribe

A post shared by Zen | (@dadultlife) on

6.30pm rolled around, then 6.40pm. Where the fuck was this bloke?

Aside from the fact it was an absolute pisstake on his part – what if we had somewhere to be? – his poor child was left being babysat by a pair of (albeit friendly and really cool) strangers!

Who does that?!

Barely able to remember his face at this point, y’know, because we’ve never met and I saw him for all of 15 seconds, I went to the changing room to try and find him, but he was nowhere to be seen.

How long did this dude need for a shower?

Did he go to use his shower at home?

Was he actually an on-call plumber that had to go and install a shower, thus spelling the second bit of miscommunication I’d been involved in that day?



“This is crazy behaviour! I would NEVER leave my children with a stranger whether they look trustworthy or not.”


I was gobsmacked, nonplussed, genuinely left speechless. I got back to Jenna and she was as bemused by the entire experience as I was and suggested we go to reception and and get an announcement made about the vanishing man.

Just as we were about to resort to that, the child’s dad reappeared.

Despite the irritation prickling me because of his less than urgent return, I wasn’t about to get into a heated row in a children’s play area, so I calmly addressed his conduct without using any expletives.

“That was a long 15 minutes.”

“Yeah, sorry about that…”

“Well, your daughter is fine, she’s in there playing with some other children.”


We left him to it.

Jenna and I were both livid, but that was diluted heavily by thick, rich, creamy bewilderment.

WTF just happened? Is this real life?

Like a buzzing hive of bees, there were so many questions that swirled around in my mind afterwards that it was hard to focus on anything else.

I’d captured the moment on my Instagram stories and my confirmation this was ludicrous behaviour was confirmed with responses like:


“WTAF mate? This is insane! Like Proper nuts!! Literally no words mate. Just so crazy.”

“This is crazy behaviour! I would NEVER leave my children with a stranger whether they look trustworthy or not.”

Based on the above, I think I know the answer to: Would you leave your child with a stranger?

Since we were kids, we’ve probably all been given the stranger danger speech, so most of you reading this will likely have the same answer – oh, helllllll no.

So would you let a stranger leave you with their child for “15 minutes”? Prior to hearing about my scenario, the answers given would have probably been divisive.

“Yeah, I’m gonna be here anyway, so why not.”

“No, I don’t feel comfortable doing that.”

Should anything like this happen again, I know what my answer is going to have to be.


And the next time I hear an “okay” from the missus?



  1. Totally bonkers. This has happened to me loads and I just don’t get it either. In fact I remember once when I was at the park and another mum asked if I’d watch her kid whilst she popped to the local shop! I mean I’d never seen her before so I say no and she got cross! Wtf. Crazy world. #thatfridaylinky

  2. This is happened to me at soft play hence why I started to avoid them with a passion great read mate Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

Submit a Comment