Seriously, who hasn’t felt like brawling in a play centre?

DISCLAIMER ALERT: What happened at an indoor play centre in Sydney’s west yesterday is inexcusable in every way.

A brawl broke out between parents at a six-year-old’s birthday party at Lollipop’s Playground and Cafe in Wetherill Park on Saturday afternoon. Apparently, two children bumped into each other, and as a result a grown man pulled a little girl’s hair and all hell broke loose.

Police are now hunting for several men over the incident, another three are in hospital and a whole lot of kids are traumatised by seeing their adults acting like mindless animals.

There is no excuse for that level of thugish brutality, at a play centre, or anywhere else. You are the GROWN-UPS here, people. You are meant to be teaching your children how to be humans, how to handle conflict, how not to be arseholes.

All these guys have done is taught their children that their parents are idiots. Full stop.

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A scene from brawl at Lollipop’s Playland & Cafe in Wetherill Park.

SO, with that massive disclaimer out of the way… I have a question for every parent who has ever – as I did yesterday morning – spent any time in an indoor play centre with their child.


Weren’t you tempted to commit violence? Even (most probably) on yourself?

Indoor play places are one of the very worst things about parenting. In fact, about the world. They are the seventh circle of hell, dressed up with primary colours and a monkey-themed cafe.

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Basically hell on earth.

They can make you question everything about your life and your choices – before lunchtime on a Saturday.

And here’s why:

1. The coffee is ALWAYS terrible.

It costs $5 a cup and tastes like it was made from shoe-scrapings  and warm tap-water. And you had to wait 15 minutes for it. Note to play-centre staff: Parents are VERY picky about their coffee. It’s one of the few pleasures they have left.

2. The food is worse.

Yes, hot chips are great any time, any place, but you know that in a parent-rich environment, they come with a hefty side of judgement. So you order the “healthy” option, which is a couple of limp white-bread cucumber sandwiches and an old apple. The fun is over, and the the NO OUTSIDE FOOD IS TO BE BROUGHT IN EVER EVER EVER sign is mocking you as you argue with your kids about the absence of hot chips.

3. The shame.

Oh. The shame. It’s Sunday morning and it’s raining. You know that it’s going to be an absolute heaving, sweaty nightmare at Little Monsters, so why are you there? For one reason: Your house is small. Yes, so is mine.

4. No shoes.

Grown men in their socks. Enough said.

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Oh c’mon.

5. The “accidents”.

Every time you see a Little Monsters’ teenage staff member carrying a mop and bucket, you run and hide in the toilet. Because that could totally be your child who caused the incident on the slippery-dip that’s made it extra slippery today.

6. The noise.

The squealing. It’s like being at One Direction concert without earplugs. For hours.

7. The germs.

Think about the ball pit for a moment. Even if you are the least germophobic person on the planet, or your bag is full of teeny-tiny bottle hand-sanitisers, just think about it, and the hundreds and hundreds of children who have tried to eat those balls before yours.

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Holly’s daughter Matilda putting her grubby mits all over the play equipment.

7. You will never get back that time you spent crawling through the jungle gym looking for your child.

You hear a little, familiar voice above the cacophony, “MUM!” “MUM!!!!” “MUUUUUUUUUUM!!” And you know your child is stuck somewhere. That thing’s got three levels, and is designed for people who are two-foot tall. But you’re the sucker who will be climbing up ladders and crawling through ball pits calling “Coming, darling! Mum will be there in a minute.”

8. The minute you start looking at your phone, your child will make someone cry.

Let the kids run riot and settle in to catch up on Facebook? That’s why they’re called SOFT play-places right? No harm can come to them in this safe environment. Well, you know that the minute you lose yourself in bad coffee and status updates from your ex, one of these two things will happen: Your child will get beaten up or Your child will beat someone up. And then you are the one who’s rushing up after the fact, while the other parent judges you silently. “WHERE WAS THAT LITTLE BOY’S MOTHER?”

9. You’re on your own.

You arrange to meet friends and their at Little Monsters. But as the reality dawns that they actually have to go, and find a park, and drink the shitty coffee, they all drop out on you. But you have to go. Because it’s raining. And your house is small. And it’s Saturday…

Welcome back to hell.

More parenting posts from Mamamia:

The time a bakery accidentally put a ‘vagina’ on a Teddy Bear christening cake.

“Today, I achieved no less than 67 tasks. And I’m sure every parent will relate.”

“How I learned to be a mother, without my mother.”

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