Broadcasting to you live from PlayHard soft play, the town's largest (and most horrendous) but cheapest play centre. Whilst peaceful and unoccupied on a term time afternoon, today PlayHard is for some reason over-run by feral boys who are far too old, in my opinion, to be running up and down the enormous slide, and anyway, why on earth are they not in school? They all appear to belong to that woman over there who's counting her cigarettes. Oh my God I've become one of those horrible snobby parents haven't I? Bugger. Incidentally my friend Penny recently told me a ghastly urban legend about PlayHard in which a little girl up on the first level of the soft play innocently removed her nappy and did a wee through the netting floor onto the heads of the unsuspecting horrified mums below.
Anyway. While Lyall is at school 'full time', Richard is at school in the mornings for the first three weeks of term, so rather than mission between school and home like a shuttle bus I thought in the afternoons I'd continue the overexposure to other children technique (for improving Richard's confidence) which has worked so well over the long Summer holidays. So, here I am, at my regular table, sat on a plastic garden chair, looking up every minute or two to check that Richard isn't cavorting with the stray children. Currently he's sat in the toddler area with a well dressed little boy (phew), choosing to spin a green padded steering wheel around dangerously fast, rather than play on said enormous slide which now looks rather like a Benefits Street themed Where's Wally picture, covered in tracksuit wearing ten year olds. The difficulty now, after working so hard to encourage him to make friends with other children, is that Richard will indiscriminately befriend every child in sight, even if they look like they'd steal 10p from their Gran.
Before the boys arrived in March, I often used to wonder how my days would be filled; what a huge length of time six months off work will be and just how leisurely and bohemian I'll be by the time I return to work. In my imagination, the Summer would be spent sitting on a deckchair in the garden, perhaps reading a book while the boys play happily on fancy new John Lewis garden play equipment that we'll buy and install on a Sunday afternoon. We'd find a local outdoor lido and spend jolly afternoons in the sunshine, splashing in the pool and we'll barbecue every evening when Dad gets home from work, telling him all about our fun-filled day. In reality, this was all way off the mark of course, as most of my friends with children chuckle and point out that (a.) A day out like that will cost about £100 and (b.) Children (unless they're supernaturally well behaved) will not sit nicely and play on anything for a reasonable amount of time, unless it's a tablet or iPhone in which case their benchmark of fun will be far too high and they'll become horrendously spoiled and needy like one of those dreadful children in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. It was a little too early in the boys' placement with us to take them abroad on holiday, so, as I alluded to previously, we instead found lots of wholesome, but cheap (and noisy) activities to fill the Summer days. This allowed the boys the freedom to develop while I learned quickly to find the most tolerable place to sit and watch, usually just far enough away to meet a balance between visibility of the boys and peace and quiet. It's an art-form that those poor wee-haired mums at PlayHard had to learn the hard way.
Oh God, I feel as though this has all been a bit negative and snobby today... It's not all grubby soft play centres and noisy kids, honest Guv! Some good news to leave you with; we've just been notified that the boys' adoption order has been granted. They're with us, forever!