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We tried a new indoor play gym this weekend.

Weekends used to be our time to sit around in our bath robes and play video games and pretend other humans didn’t exist.

No more.

Thanks to Extrovert McGee, we now have to find ways to entertain him so he doesn’t drive us bug nuts. Once out into the stimulating world, Owl is a joy. When trapped in a house full of toys he has already played with, he is a hang-off-your-arm burden.

Since he had already been to two playgrounds this weekend, we decided to go to an indoor play gym. On a spur-of-the-moment decision, we decided to visit Crash Crawly’s, which is a further drive from our house than our usual play spot for Owl.

REGRET.

This place was bigger and busier than our regular play gym, but we assumed that meant it would be better.

But it wasn’t.

The toddler area was divided by a spiralling wall almost as tall as an adult, which meant that you had to either follow your toddler around constantly, or just sit there staring at a wall wondering what your kid was doing now.

There was no gate to the toddler area, either which meant that you had to be ever vigilant that your toddler did not wander OUT of the toddler area and nine year olds were constantly roaming in to squash him in the ball pit.

The security pitiful, too. At our regular play gym, you have to line up to get your bracelets checked before they will unlock the door to let you out, so you can’t walk off with someone else’s child.

At this place, the in gate and the out gate were the same gate, and it didn’t lock, or even latch. You could just open it and go with a kid in your arms, and if you ran, the teeny boppers at the front desk probably couldn’t catch you in time.

But the craziest thing was the noise.

Insane, penetrating, giving-you-a-headache noise.

And I don’t mean the noise of gleeful children. Sure, there were lots of screams and shouts.

But they put the toddler area directly underneath some kind of air gun game which emitted ear splitting roars on a near-continual basis.

 

It was not only disturbingly disruptive to our introverted brains, but it seemed totally crazy.

There were signs everywhere talking about how the toddler area was designed to stimulate young minds, and they provided all these music-based toys on the wall to help stimulate his psychic growth.

But all of that was pointless, since I don’t think Owl could hear a thing from those toys.

Sure, your kid can’t hear the music he makes, but you’ve already paid your entrance fee, so who care?

But he did like the ball pit.

When I weigh the pros and cons of going back, it looks like this:

Pros: Ball pit

Cons: Deafening noise, no way to pen toddlers in, poor security, more expensive.

I don’t think Owl will be enjoying the ball pit often, because WE have the keys to the car and you aren’t forcing us back THERE in a hurry.

You know, once upon a time I used to fantasize about what I would do if someone gave me a blank-slate day – a day in which nothing I did would have any permanent ramifications, whether it was telling a boy that I liked him or running up the down escalator.

Now, I dream about what I would do if I had 48 hours of complete solitude.

It involves a lot of wearing my bath robe and pretending other humans don’t exist.

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