Tea With GiGi: Teaching My Daughter To Enjoy Tradition

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Children today get a whole lot of action. I mean, actual movement and excitement. Between weekly dance classes, visits to the park, walks around the neighborhood, games of tag and wrestle-mania (my personal nickname for the hours my daughter spends treating her parents like jungle gyms), she definitely gets 60 minutes of play a day.

Aside from her own movement, every toy she plays with or show she watches also seems to be filled with action. She doesn’t just have a toy dinosaur, she had a tyrannasaurus with battle armor that shoots missiles, roars and moves on its own. Whether they’re good for us or not, fast-paced shows with constant, crazy motion, like Spongebob Square Pants, are the most popular ones out there.

With all of the action out there, it’s pretty remarkable to get a child to sit still for a while. It’s even more amazing to teach them to appreciate a calm, quiet family tradition. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

My grandmother is teaching her great-granddaughters how to have a proper tea. The girls and their GiGi, as we call her, are exploring the wonderfully still world of manners, etiquette and even fine china.

Since I was a young girl, my grandmother has always given me a tea pot once a year. I have them in every size and shape. I have some that can actually serve tea and others that stay tucked in a china cabinet. It’s a wonderful collection to start with GiGi, because she happens to have a china collection so extensive that it had to be inventoried and insured. Tea sets have always been a point of bonding for the two of us.

Now, she’s using our special shared hobby to teach my little girl just how wonderful it can be to stay still for a minute. There’s a peacefulness to traditions like tea parties that we don’t find in a lot of children’s activities anymore. I think it’s a valuable lesson in slowing down and appreciating a moment with your family.

Even with a toddler, our tea time doesn’t include a plastic set of cups, knocking water onto the floor. We may not use family heirlooms, but we have a china set for the little girls to use. They aren’t quite ready for hot tea yet, but I trust that we’ll soon get there. We’re also starting cook the snacks to go with tea ourselves, a process that I’m sure my daughter will enjoy.

It makes a pretty picture: little girls in their dresses with their hair in a bow, crisp white table linens and a delicate collection of china for them to serve. But pretty isn’t really the point. In a culture where my little one is bombarded by constant action, I feel lucky to share a moment of peace with her. That’s what my grandmother taught me to appreciate and that’s why I’m so happy to pass this tradition along to my little one. To be honest, I think a lot of us could use a little more tea time with GiGi.