My Mum and I took the boys to a soft play centre today. I was slightly apprehensive after last time...
Nine months ago Andy and I took the boys to a birthday party at a soft play centre. Cash was only ten weeks old and got cuddled a lot, he took it all in and watched the other children.
Presley was fourteen months old. He was still quite a shy baby, nervous of strangers and unusual situations.
We sat him in the ball pond. He clearly felt uneasy. He found a red ball and held it for comfort. He held onto this ball the whole time we were there. Unfortunately some older boys jumped in the ball pond and frightened him. We lifted him out, crying his eyes out, with his comfort ball.
We tried him on other toys but he wasn't enjoying himself. He just wanted to crawl around, with his red ball.
Andy and I felt so sorry for him. We are both naturally shy people and to see him on the sidelines, not daring to join in, really upset us.
Roll forward nine months...
Today demonstrated to me how far he has come. His socialisation and confidence have improved no end. He's still quiet, but he's a different boy to last time.
With Cash happily crawling about the baby area I sat and watched Presley learn how to climb up a bumpy ramp and then whizz down the slide. His hair was flying out behind him and his grin stretched from ear to ear. He ran round to the ramp and did it again and again and again. When other toddlers joined him he was courteous, moving to the far slide when necessary.
After a good half an hour of slide action Mum and I wanted a coffee (and a cake of course) so we put the boys in some highchairs for a break. Presley wanted to carry on playing but it was so hot in there that I wanted him to have a drink and a snack. He was red in the face. I've never seen him so active.
Once we released him he decided to up his game and investigate the climbing frames in the big children's area. I was trying to get Cash to sleep so I missed Presley's debut slide down the large covered helter skelter. When I found out what he had done I couldn't believe it. My little boy, the daredevil!
Mum took over Cash buggy-wheeling duty and I followed Presley. Up the huge ramp he went, with me lumbering behind him. I wondered if there was an adult weight limit. Eek! It was okay, I didn't break the scaffolding. He proceeded to investigate the whole place. Some bigger boys knocked him down. He got up again, he was fine. When he wanted to get down he chose to slide down the ramp. I tried to encourage him to climb down safely, but I ended up half carrying him while making my way down gingerly.
If you had asked me this morning whether Presley would have dared go in the big children's area, I would have said 'no'. If you had asked me would I be clambering about with him, I would have said 'no way'. But we both did it.
I was so proud of him. He had a wonderful time and didn't want to leave. We're definitely going back. Mum can look after Cash as he zooms around frenetically playing with all the baby toys. Andy can clamber round with Presley. Me? I'll be following them with the video camera, zooming in on my confident, happy little boy's beautiful flushed face. Then I'll have a coffee and a cake.