Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Toddler Tea Time
Listen carefully and you will hear soft classical music playing, melodious laughter and the clink of silver upon china. Look around and you will see silver trays filled with sweet delicacies and mints, antique teapots steaming with fresh tea, bright slices of lemon and cubes of sugar adjoining the tiny pastel tea sets on each of the several tables around the room. Grandma’s chest has been brought down from the attic and inside are old-fashioned dresses, shoes, hats and gloves for all to try on. Mink stoles and fashionable hats straight out of the 1920’s decorate the shelves while the dresser is overflowing with costume jewelry – broaches, clip on earrings, dangling necklaces and silk gloves to complete the look. The oval looking glass in the corner of the room provides an opportunity for a glance into the past and perhaps into the future as well. Children donning gloves too long, shoes too large and hats beyond their age mimic the adults they admire and we imagine the adults they will someday become.
This scene is a simple re-creation of all childhood imaginations – the tea party. Children of all ages (from 0 -99) are invited once a month to partake of tea and treats at the Family Enrichment Center. The festivities are not so much about tea but rather an educational experience. Little girls learn what it means to be a lady and little boys how to be a gentleman – something I’m afraid is quite lacking in these modern times. As they prance about in clothes from another time, they earn the reassurance that they are beautiful or handsome and treasured as sweet children.
Imagination is fostered while children and parents (or grandparents) alike reminisce about the days of elegant parties, dress up balls and tea time. This game of dress up is like no other – there are no buckets filled with candy treats for those in costume and there are no recitations for a performance on the stage – simply an opportunity to enjoy life. Inside the tea pots, there is apple juice and soon the children will be chasing each other with cookie crumbs on their lips, but for now, the table seats little ladies and gentlemen in practice.