While I was thrashing around in a giant ball pit at Leo’s Fun Zone yesterday (and secretly having the time of my life) something suddenly hit me: our baby boy already has way cooler stuff, and is doing way cooler things, than I’ve ever done.
Sonny can’t even walk, talk, or grow a decent head of hair yet; but his weekly routine makes him look like a millionaire playboy. When he isn’t bouncing around on trampolines at the Olympic gym, he’s usually receiving ‘baby massages’, shooting down slides at a giant soft play centre, or floating on a lilo in a heated swimming pool.
He sleeps for around 14 hours a day; gets hot meals cooked and fed to him every morning, noon and night; has his own iPad (which used to be mine) to watch nursery rhymes and listen to music; gets his bath prepared to the same temperature each night before being washed and scrubbed while he wallows in the suds; has his own private playroom containing a ball pit, crawling tunnel, inflatable cow and 6-foot stuffed lion; is carried, pushed or driven anywhere of his choosing; and to cap it all off – I even have to wipe his arse! Without wanting to sound too much like my grandad – this little diva doesn’t know how easy he’s got it.
“Without wanting to sound too much like my grandad – this little diva doesn’t know how easy he’s got it.”
I remember when I was a kid, and an exciting day out for us was a trip to my gran’s house. The old girl had some knitting needles in her spare room that I used to play with and a copper mug that me and my sister used to entertain ourselves with by banging a spoon around in it. If I was really lucky, we sometimes even went to the local park, where if I dodged the local drunks on the benches and looked past the dead pigeons floating in the paddling pool, I would do my best to stay alive while playing on rusty swings, slides and roundabouts with nothing but broken tarmac beneath them to break my fall.
If I sound a bit bitter, it’s because I kind of am, but that’s only because I’m so blown away by how awesome things are for kids now. Leo’s Fun Zone at Huntingdon Leisure Centre – full of punch bags, slides, ball pools, cargo nets, and rope swings – is the kind of place that would have blown my mind as a kid. I remember travelling around two hours to Blackpool to go somewhere similar back in the 1980s, but this place is just round the corner from our house. In our local leisure centre. And it’s free for kids under the age of one. How cool is that?
Sonny absolutely loves it, because he’s free to scamper around on his hands on knees and smash into the kind of things that we’d never let him smash into at home, safe in the knowledge he can’t do himself or any of our precious possessions any damage in the process. And as lucky as he is to have somewhere like this to play at such a young age, we’re equally lucky to have such great facilities to entertain the little monster.
“Sonny’s turned into a little bald whirlwind of chaos.”
Sonny’s hit an age now – 10 months going on 10 years – where he’s turned into a little bald whirlwind of chaos. At home he wants to open every door, drawer and cupboard; climb on every piece of furniture; chew everything that isn’t bolted to the floor; chase our poor, harassed dog to the ends of the Earth; and leave a constant trail of destruction in his wake that we constantly clean up after. Having something like Leo’s Fun Zone on the doorstep – and there are dozens of similar places within 10 miles of our house – is great for him, but equally brilliant for us as parents.
But that doesn’t make me any less jealous!