Back in my doing-algebra days, my house had two teenage girls, no brothers, and two cats. Emotions were known to erupt. I’m usually a coffee person, but on those days when the yelling and crying had gotten to actually ridiculous levels, Mom would take away the schoolwork, sit us down, and feed us cinnamon toast and a cup of tea. She’s brilliant. It could reset everything.
MOM’S CINNAMON TOAST
Slices of bread – ordinary sandwich bread will do, or a nice sourdough is better
Butter or margarine spread
Cinnamon sugar mix – to make your own, combine about 1 teaspoon cinnamon with about 2 tablespoons sugar in an empty spice container. Shake to mix.
Lay out two slices of bread per person on a baking sheet. Butter each one generously and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake under the broiler until the edges of the bread are toasted but not burned.
I don’t have any teenage daughters, but it is my experience that preschool and elementary-age girls have depths of emotion too. When in doubt, it’s usually a good idea to ask what your mom did. We had a day this week when the tsunami of tears threatened to wash us all away, and it was time to declare a state of emergency tea party. Problem: the girls don’t drink tea and we’re out of lemonade. Solution: let’s try something.
I decided to give them some tea anyway and – this is the important part – have them taste it before I told them what it was. I did this in full awareness it could go terribly, terribly wrong. But if it did, at least I would be fortified by my own cuppa.
The girls viewed their mystery drink with some suspicion, but it is the custom at our house to take one good bite or sip, as the case may be. Also, there were yogurt pretzels on the plate, so the tea party couldn’t be all bad. Meg took a sip and declared mint tea really good, but she decided not to finish it this time. Kate took a drink, identified it as peppermint, and drained her whole cup.
INTRODUCTORY TEA FOR LITTLE GIRLS
1 peppermint tea bag
A big spoonful of sugar or healthy sweetener of choice
Steep the tea and add sugar. Pour it into the prettiest thrift-store tea cups. Serve with snacks.
My approach to tea parties is casual. I don’t own any tablecloths or napkin rings right now, because I live in limited space and decided they aren’t a priority. I read Southern Lady magazine, and it’s pretty and all, but spending four days prepping for an elaborate garden party like they do is not my idea of fun. It fills me with stress, actually. I can’t even get the floor vacuumed before co-op.* Maybe I will become fancy someday, when my girls can help.
The one party supply I do keep on hand is my thrifted tea set. It’s super girly with roses and I love it. It resides on a single out-of-the-way but accessible shelf on the kitchen, and I pull it out any time we need perking up. Are we having a guest for board games? Pretty dishes! A fairy tea birthday party? Obviously. A particularly impressive soup for dinner? Sure. It’s all right for kids to use it and even all right if something breaks, because it came from the thrift store and that’s part of the life cycle of dishes.**
It’s almost four in the afternoon as I’m writing this, and a fresh math workbook is waiting to be graded. Complicated addition, I think it is; not algebra. The microwave just beeped with my hot water. I think I’ll have a cup of tea before I start grading.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images courtesy of Carolyn Bales.
**There are really only two destinations for dishes: the dump or a museum. The dump may lead to a museum eventually too, by way of archaeology.