Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The center cannot hold

Things were great while it lasted- Sophie had no qualms climbing up the structure all by herself, coming down the slide on her own, laughing when she fell, and picking herself up after. But things started to fall apart after about 15 minutes and we had no choice but to leave...

So on the recommendation of one of the mommies in our mommy group, I brought Sophie to Jungle Java, an indoor playground, yesterday afternoon. It's one of those places with a large labyrinthine play structure into which you can let your kids loose. They also have a designated toddler area with climbers and a slide that are more size-appropriate for the little people. It sounded so promising conceptually- the kids get to play in a safe, enclosed area while parents sit back and relax while enjoying good snacks and coffee. But the combination of the time of the day (Sunday afternoon), time of the year (cold and wet so the kids are all wound-up from not enough outside time), and Sophie not having been exposed to such large play situations just got a little overwhelming for the poor girl. The big kids were running recklessly in and out of the toddler area so there were children every which way you turned, many not even watching where they're going and almost trampling on the little ones; the bigger play structure was really distracting for Sophie and she kept wanting to make a break for it to join them; because it's indoors, every sound is amplified so the whole place was just ringing with noise; and many parents basically treated the area like a baby-sitter and left their toddlers alone while they went and enjoyed their coffee- unsupervised, rambunctious toddlers are sometimes not very nice to other toddlers, even those with their mommies with them.

And so there Sophie was- excited, (over) stimulated, enthralled, but also a little frightened and anxious. Fifteen minutes after we arrived, 4 or 5 trips down the slide, and several failed attempts to dash to the big kid area later, Sophie threw herself onto the floor in a puddle of kicks and tears. I think there was simply too much going on. And so I scooped her up, put on her shoes and jacket, and walked right out. The cold, bracing air was such a relief and we just sat in the car for the next 10 minutes, letting Sophie cool down with some milk, crackers, and The Innocence Mission on the car stereo. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Nicola's Books where Sophie and I were the only people in the store. She was perfectly content.

Here are some videos of when the going was still good:

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