I’ve never been to a tea party. Oh sure, I’ve seen them on TV and in movies, but I’ve never once been invited to one. That’s not to say I’ve been chomping at the bit for 36 years waiting by the telephone for someone to call and offer me a spot of tea, but when my daughter invited me to her tea party yesterday it hit me. You’ve finally made it! I thought. You’re going to a tea party.
Now, I should backtrack a bit and explain that I wasn’t exactly invited to the tea party. No, my daughter doesn’t invite. Instead she simply tells you what you’re going to do. So yesterday she told me I was going to a tea party. And I said, “Okay.”
She took me by the hand and sat me down in our living room. The tea party set was already out. There were four sets of plates, bowls, tea cups, glasses, and cutlery, a sugar bowl and lid, a milk or cream dispenser (pitcher? I don’t know what to call these things.), a serving tray, and, of course, a teapot. Everything a child could possibly need for tea serving purposes.
Except the tea.
Audrey was busy preparing for the party when I realized I was the only guest. I was going to feel a bit uncomfortable being the only attendee, so I brought this to her attention. “Oh yeah!” she said before diving into her stuffed animal pile for a small handful of lucky invitees. Her picks?
- Lambie: A snow white sheep with a green shirt. Her nose is brown from receiving too many of Audrey’s hot chocolate kisses.
- Bunny (aka “Rabbit”): A grey bunny with floppy ears, fuzzy tail, and giant hind feet. Yup. Pretty much your average bunny rabbit. Loves tea though. I think.
- Puppy (aka “Doggy”): A brown and white puppy dog with ears and feet. Puppy showed up in our house the same day as Bunny and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
- Audrey: What, you thought she was just going to serve the tea and not drink any herself?
Okay, so all the guests were assembled. It was time for some tea! And Audrey didn’t disappoint, pouring “tea” into anything resembling a cup or glass. Sometimes I would have three cups filled with tea. At other times I would have no cups at all. Cups would switch off between me and Lambie, only to be replaced by a sugar bowl or that strange receptacle that holds milk. It was all a bit chaotic, but we rolled with it. I think Puppy got a bit frustrated at having three bowls, a knife, and no tea at one point but he hasn’t said a word on the matter. That’s just my intuition speaking.
Now, please indulge me as I provide you with a few asides regarding Audrey’s tea-pouring:
- When she pours tea she makes a “ssssssss” sound. It’s cute.
- When she pours tea she REALLY shoves that teapot into your cup. I mean, all the way. She really wants to make sure you have enough tea, I guess.
- She’s always pouring tea. In other words, she never holds the teapot horizontally. It’s always pointing downward, pouring all that delicious hot tea all over the place. As someone who fears messes beyond almost everything, this bothers me.
After tea—it was delicious by the way, did I detect a touch of lemon?—we moved on to that most traditional of post-tea treats: ice cream! Audrey handed me a bowl—with a fork, to boot—filled with ice-cold ice cream. I thanked her, savoring the thought of enjoying some chocolatey goodness. She replied, however, with a “You’re welcome” before taking the bowl full of ice cream back. She then grabbed a spoon, not a fork, and went after it herself. Hmph. Hard to blame her there, but if that isn’t a reason for sending her off to Finishing School, I don’t know what is.
Thankfully my bitterness was dispelled by the time the third course had arrived. Chicken! Yes, my daughter is already savvy enough to know that after you serve your guests tea and ice cream, you must serve chicken. She climbed up onto the couch beside me for this course, even pretending to use a knife and fork on her plate to cut the chicken into little bite size bits. As I said earlier, she’s not only the host, but also a guest. It’s good being queen.
I’d like to say that we followed up the chicken stage with polite discussion on important matters of the day such as global warming, the loss of Saturday mail delivery, and the launch of an Iranian monkey into space, but unfortunately this did not take place. Instead, Audrey turned the entire room inside out looking for her favorite toy for fatherly torture: the Elmo guitar. In other words, the tea party was over—as abruptly as it began. But I had made it. I was in the Tea Party Club now. And it felt good.
I’m sure it won’t be long before I end up seated across from Lambie again for a spot of chamomile. And while Audrey has some work to do to refine her hosting skills, I can’t wait. I’m enjoying this new stage of play Audrey has entered in. The very fact that she has started playing in such a manner reflects on her newfound ability to pretend. Over the past few weeks she has started to talk to her stuffed friends as if they were alive. She has started to seat them in chairs and is always sure to make sure they are participating in the same activities she enjoys so much. It’s fun to see. And the tea party is just the beginning. Soon she’ll have me doing god knows what. I’m sure that whatever it is it’ll be equal parts fun and embarrassing. Or, in other words…
Just another day being a dad.