No More Fantasy Teatimes
I got into a conversation with a mom who shared that she never has time for Poetry Teatime. There’s the baby who needs nursing, the toddler who is cranky, the older girls who are working on their math (and shouldn’t be stopped because it’s hard enough to get them started!) and so on… But as I thought about it, I remembered that I have five kids and we’ve been having teatimes longer than I’ve homeschooled.
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So I asked her why she didn’t have her family teatime when the toddler had already eaten lunch, the baby was napping, and the girls had finished math. She paused. “Well, then I wouldn’t have made the blueberry muffins.”
Aha! Another mom falls victim to “Fantasy Teatime Syndrome.”
This mom pictured matching placemats and frilly napkins, a centerpiece of flowers, new candles, and freshly made goodies to eat. She imagined a quiet house and all children happily participating. She supposed that she could bake the treats, set the table and choose the books on behalf of her children while they were occupied elsewhere so that when the teatime began, it would surprise and delight them. And so, being the ordinary mom that she is (like the rest of us) months went by without ever achieving those conditions, and consequently, never had a teatime.
To have a successful tea, however, all you need is hot water, mugs, and teabags. If you insist on treats, toast with butter and jam works great. (A package of cookies is as happily consumed as made-from-scratch brownies, too.) The key to teatime is having one. Poetry can be read by candle light or fluorescent bulbs. A centerpiece is purely optional.
When my youngest was a baby, my toddler had curly red hair and the energy of a power sprayer, and my three older kids were still under age nine, we read the Garfield Shakespeare Stories, It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles, and The Hopeful Trout and Other Limericks all during teatimes. Sometimes I’d be munching cookies and nursing a baby while an eight year old needed help reading a “hard word.” Sometimes the tea spilled all over the tablecloth and we’d have to move to the living room to finish our poetry readings. Other times were pure magic where the baby had fallen to sleep, the toddler became engrossed in Duplos and the three older children took happy turns selecting poems to read or be read.
It didn’t matter. Teatime was sacred time, even when the napkins didn’t match.
What happens in a homeschool when the kettle sings and steamy water is poured over raspberry herbal or Lipton black tea? When the workbooks are cleared and the poetry books are strewn across the table? The pace of the day changes. Sipping hot liquid requires slowing down, blowing across the surface to cool it. Reading poetry means flipping through pages looking for just the right rhyme to share. Reciting the poem simultaneously gets the tongue moving and quiets the buzz of chatter.
- Don’t worry about the right setting or unhurried moment.
- Don’t require pretty tea things.
- Start with what you have.
Put the kettle on, collect the books, and set out mismatched mugs and honey. Add some toast, fruit, or packaged cookies. Let each person pick a tea bag and a poem. Then breathe in, breathe out. Your teatime break is about to begin.