My toddler Christmas party hell

A toddler dressed as an elf in a library and looking a little worse for wear.

One of the best times to be self-employed is Christmas. I’ve written about the reasons for this before, so won’t repeat myself. Apart from saying that one of the things I really don’t miss about my old life is the office Christmas party. Particularly in the last job I had before becoming my own boss.

This is my third Christmas without having to navigate the awkwardness of festive gatherings and I was feeling quite smug about it.

Please note the use of the past tense in the previous sentence. You see, this week I found myself witnessing behaviour similar to that of drunken colleagues in the most unlikely of places. Rhymetime at our local library.

It started as it always does. The parents and grandparents sat in a circle with the toddlers and preschoolers. We began with Round and Round the Garden, followed by This Little Piggy. Textbook.

Without warning, however, the session suddenly veered off. Thinking about it, the turning point may have been when we sang When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney. This deviation from the usual playlist seemed to flick a switch in everyone under the age of four.

Suddenly, their conduct was like that of office employees at around 9.05am on the last few days before Christmas. They couldn’t be bothered with Wind the Bobbin Up or Row, Row, Row Your Boat. They wanted to get merry.

An impromptu and ‘Not-So-Secret Santa’ broke out as they started giving each other instruments and props. The adults tried to keep order with Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and I Had a Little Turtle, but it was in vain.

Following what must have been a particularly intoxicating rendition of Jingle Bells, the true boozy-like behaviour began.

Emboldened by the spirit with which the song was sung, the tots took to the dancefloor. Yes, the Elmer rug in the middle of the kids’ section.

Some happily boogied away together, while others rejected requests to dance. At least one attendee was spotted sobbing in a corner as a result.

There were some minor disagreements too – presumably over who had performed Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes best over the last quarter.

Then came the kissing. And, yes, Amelie was right at the centre of this. To be fair, she didn’t instigate it. Her friend did. She didn’t seem to mind though.

This coincided with the conclusion of gathering. At which point, she began running around the library, loudly demonstrating her merry state and falling over at regular intervals. Thank goodness she didn’t get to the photocopier.

It was very much like the last office party I attended – thankfully I was merely a judgemental observer back then too. I’m looking forward to the first Rhymetime of 2018 in which the little ones avoid eye contact and pretend that their party never happened.

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