Last night my daughter asked me if we could have a tea party. My daughter is three and the idea of having a tea party with her sounded awesome so I quickly said yes. Little did I know how excited this would make her. She instantly gave me a huge smile and even let out a squeal of delight.
The next morning all she could talk about was her tea party. I must admit I was also excited about this upcoming mother-daughter bonding time. First, she had to go to school. I assured her that we would have a tea party as soon as we came home from school.
As expected, the first thing she asked me when I picked her up from school was, “Is it time for my tea party now?” When I answered yes, she once again squealed with delight.
By this time I was feeling pretty good about my relationship with my daughter. I, too, couldn’t wait to share this special moment with her. Of course we had to invite the boys because once they heard about a party they wanted to attend.
We arrived home and started to prepare for the tea party. I watched my three excited children wait patiently as I gathered the cups, juice and cookies. We sat down and began our tea party. My daughter was grinning from ear to ear. It was wonderful to see how excited she was.
And then she said it.
“YAY! Now I’m four!”
In one phrase I realized that I had completely missed the deeper meaning behind the tea party. At some point, months or weeks ago, we were talking about her next birthday party. She said that she wanted to have a tea party for her birthday party.
My daughter thought she was attending her birthday party today. Suddenly, phrases from earlier in the day made more sense:
“Mom, we didn’t invite Ella to my party.” “That’s okay sweetie, we’ll see her soon.”
“Are we gonna open presents at my tea party?” “No there aren’t presents at a tea party.”
I sat there and realized that my daughter was convinced she was turning 4 today. She was celebrating a birthday that wasn’t due to arrive until February. I panicked. I wondered how she would react when I broke the news to her. This day had been so perfect up until this moment and I was about to ruin it. Smiles were about to be traded in for tears.
I debated not telling her. I thought maybe I would just let it go and she would figure it out on her own. One glance at my older son and I knew there would be no letting this comment slide. He was moments away from bursting her bubble. If I didn’t let her down easy, he was going to do it the only way an older brother knows how: mockingly.
“Sweetie, today isn’t your birthday. You are still three. This is a tea party. What a wonderful time we are having at this tea party. This is the best tea party I’ve ever been too. Wouldn’t you agree?”
My son couldn’t help but add a comment about how she is a twin and she couldn’t be turning four unless her brother was turning four as well.
I held my breath and waited.
She took the news as gracefully as any hostess would. She smiled and nodded, acknowledging her mistake, then changed the topic.
Sure, for the rest of the day my daughter continued to confuse the tea party with her birthday party, but the tea party was not ruined. My children and I enjoyed our tea party. No one got upset. There was no fighting. And even if it wasn’t my daughter’s birthday, I know she had a good time.