Party Rings

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Not a favourite of mine. I don’t consider them dipable and they’re far too crunchy and hard to enjoy alone. Obviously if it’s all that was on offer I’d be grateful. The boys however would kill for them.

Yesterday we went to a local village hall for a ‘stay and play’ session, to most people a Mother and toddler group. I’ll admit I’m not great at socialising with people I don’t already know, which can lead to reclusive behaviour, I struggle to understand social norms and find myself staring or making highly inappropriate jokes. In spite of my inhibitions I do occasionally attend these groups for my boys’ sakes and to avoid cabin fever. On this particular occasion it was party day, an end of term celebration, something for the council staff who run the group to celebrate rather than the toddlers who enjoy the space, freedom and new toys on a weekly basis, but a celebration nonetheless. Miniature school lunch tables were assembled noisily in a long line down the centre of the hall, the noise of these 20+ tables caused both Eddie and Ruru to shake with fear, I reassured them there would be biscuits, maybe even pink ones. The minute chairs were available, parents were forcing their children’s bottoms into place, in a desire for pole party food position. We hung back, being the last few of around 45 children to sit down. Then it arrived, plate after plate of toddlers’ dreams; cakes, crisps, bowls of cheese, grapes, Swiss roll, sausage rolls, sausages and Party Rings, the holy grail of a children’s party, and I could feel competition in the air. An equal number of adults hovered over the small folk, now gorging themselves on sugar and fat, making sure their child got their fair share. My boys didn’t care about fair share, they wanted biscuits, biscuits and more biscuits. Sure I thought, why not, knock yourselves out lads, and they did. Nearly all other food groups were ignored. I was proud of them, sat nicely, eating one at a time then politely asking for another, well I think it was polite, hard to tell in such a sensory overloaded situation. If I could have said one thing to my boys at that moment it would have been, “eat all the biscuits you like, then lets get the hell out of here!” I sensed they felt the same. Dispite my fake smiles of encouragement and empty chitchat with other care givers. Don’t get me wrong, I like other humans, a lot, I just only want to talk to the interesting ones. We left shortly afterwards. What a boring party pooper I am. To quote Luke Smith, “I don’t want to go to parties anymore,” but I fear the next 8 years may be filled with such events, although so publicly speaking out about my unease may make me less likely to be invited. Tough, I think I still want to be invited, I just don’t want to go.

Later that day I engaged in another social event, my choir’s end of term meal. Again I stared too much and made inappropriate jokes. We sat around a long line of tables and gorged on food, it felt reminiscent of the earlier event, but it was a much more pleasant experience, even if there were no biscuits. I’m so grateful that my 2 friends introduced me to choir. Perhaps a little dramatic to some but when I joined it was life-altering. 18 months I stayed home and had hardly left my boys side, I’d been poorly, sad poorly, I still struggle with extreme guilt about leaving my boys. But it’s better and some of that is thanks to choir. We’re not a church choir, but a small modest affair, welcoming and fun. Our repertoire ranges from fun ditties, to Hungarian folk songs to Earth, Wind and Fire. We’re a hotch potch of people with a hotch potch of songs. I know I’m not the best singer, but nobody’s asked me to leave, yet! Some weeks I have to remind myself I want to go, but every week I’m glad I did. I was anxious about last night’s gathering, but I went, and I’m awfully glad I did. Next time I’ll take some Party Rings.

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