I bet if I counted all the times each day I say "Ellie, do this" or "Ellie, don't do that" it would add up to ... I don't know, A LOT. I know it's part of parenting - necessary training. But, wow, it's a lot like nagging. When I'm feeling energetic, I like to make it fun, talking in goofy accents, making it all a game. But sometimes I'm just tired, and all that silliness takes energy and time you know, and really, Will you please just put your shoes on NOW?
I try to have time every day that is just for her, time where I'm not telling her what to do or not to do, time for just the two of us to snuggle, read or play, but with two little brothers, that time more often than not, gets crowded, literally. So when a friend mentioned a local tea house, I knew that it was time for a tea party for two.
It took some time to work it into the schedule, but the day came and I announced to Ellie what we'd be doing. Bouncing up and down, she passed the news on to Daddy saying, "Me and Mommy are going to a tea party to a place that's just for big girls!"
Because I was determined to conquer Mt. Fold-Me, I ran out of time to shower, so I threw on a skirt, blouse, pony tail and an extra swipe of deodorant. Then we kissed the boys goodbye and headed out, Ellie chattering, "I'm so excited to have a Mommy day with you!"
We walked into the tea room, and her eyes lit up. She sat down in her chair before the fancy place setting and put her "big girl" face on. I watched and marveled, wondering how in the world my baby girl could be sipping from a china tea cup already. We ordered raspberry tea, because pink tea is the prettiest, don't you know. Ellie plopped ice cubes in hers.
She kept looking around and sighing happy sighs. She's a quality time girl, this one, just like her mama. Doing something special with just her simply makes her glow. Touch is her other love language, so she'd say things like, "Don't you want to hold my hand, Mommy?" And our hands would then grasp each other's and rest on the flowery table cloth. At one point, she got up and said, "I want to give you a big hug," and I said, "Yes, please."
Our dainty sandwiches arrived, along with fruit and scones. Ellie ooh'ed and ahh'ed over everything. She was enthralled with using her dinner knife to cut her sandwiches, because that's what grown ups do. I, on the other hand, inhaled my food. Because, you see, motherhood has taught me to eat in record time so as to have both hands free for the next impending disaster. I do it instictually now, even when I should be eating leisurely. Before Ellie had really begun, I was already done. So I sat back and watched her.
When she propped her elbows on the table, I held my tongue. I mentally declared this a "no nagging" zone. When she tilted her head back so that a tid bit of scone would roll from her lip to her mouth, I chuckled. Overall, I thought her four-year-old table manners were not bad, certainly good enough. So I just let her be, and basked in the wonder of her, silently giving thanks that this girl is mine. And all those tensions that build up between the daily do's and don'ts, they just drained right out.
We wiped the corners of our mouths with the cloth napkins like the fancy ladies do, then we sauntered over to the corner to try on the tea lady hats. Funny how something you formerly would have considered ridiculous somehow becomes magical when you're with a little girl. With flowery feathery fluff a top of our heads, we twirled and whirled and courtseyed in front of the full length mirror.
Then we left hand-in-hand, this memory framed in our hearts.