Why I’ll Always Make Time for My Son’s Tea Parties 


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The best party I’ve been to in ages took place on a weekday afternoon and lasted about 20 minutes. I was served water and three gummy fruit snacks and sat in a tiny wooden chair about a foot off the ground. It was just me and the host, discussing the myriad ways bad guys might successfully escape from jail. 

The event was a tea party with my 6-year-old son, and it was perfect. 

I’m a planner by nature—a list-maker who starts to feel itchy if the number of “starred” emails in my inbox exceeds 10. I tend to limit unstructured time in my own life, and I know that spills over into my parenting style. (If it’s late January, you can be sure I have the summer camp spreadsheet fully populated already.)

Why is it so hard to remember that the greatest moments with my kids usually happen in the unplanned windows between planned activities? And why does it still surprise me how simple it is to connect with each of my kids if I just slow down and stay present, even for a handful of minutes?

As the oldest of three, my son’s one-on-one time with me these days is rarely unhurried (ex. car rides to an after-school activity), rarely quiet (ex. me chaperoning a kindergarten field trip), and rarely at home (ex. two younger sisters who are all up in his business as soon as he walks in the door). I work mainly during the hours he’s at school, so we share a lot of time together, but I would by lying if I characterized all of it as quality time.

So it felt almost eerily calm in the house the other day when my toddler finally resigned herself to napping and my other daughter had a last-minute play date invitation. My son and I found ourselves blissfully alone in the playroom, just seeing where the afternoon would take us. After reading a few books together, he announced it was time for tea. 

The setup was no-frills, but the care he put into it made my heart go all mushy, the way it only can with a child who is growing up so fast but still has those unguarded moments of breathtaking innocence and sweetness. We sipped our “tea,” we talked and laughed, and my phone only came out long enough to take a few goofy pictures. 

Like I said, perfect. 

Soon it was time for busy, loud life-as-usual to resume. But that brief interlude stayed with me throughout the day and ever since.

There will come a time when I don’t receive tea party invitations from my son. Maybe someone at school will tell him (falsely) that “boys don’t have tea parties.” Maybe he’ll be too busy or just too interested in other things. But I hope we’ll always be able to carve out special moments with one another, with no expectations other than enjoying the other person’s company.

And in the meantime, whenever he invites me to tea, I will be there in a heartbeat.


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