Hard Work at the Baby Doll Tea

November 10, 2008

Apparently, Random Granddaughter has become the official cell phone notifier. “Hello,” the phone told me this morning, “We will be on the 11:30 ferry.”The family stopped at the house. We had lunch, leaving tea to serve as dinner. RG built a perilous tower out of blocks that never fell. She played stair monster with her mommies. Sometimes making monster noise from behind the curtain that keeps heat from rising in winter; other times screaming in pleased terror when they make monster noises from behind the curtain. After a while, I asked her to come over to the chair where I was sitting. I looked deep into her eyes: “I am the stare monster,” I told her.

She brought two dollies with her to the “Baby Doll” tea: Sarah, a china doll about 6 inches high, and Brown Baby Rosie, a doll that integrates RG’s doll family. (I don’t know if Rosie is related to the Obama family dolls or not.)

Two groups were at the tea shop when we arrived. One consisted of three adults; I presume their presence was a coincidence. One mother brought Maurina (who turned out to be four, though she was as big as RG, who is quite big for her age and Rosalina, six years old. Another family arrived after us with Macy, a cute little girl with a fashionable flip haircut. Introvert RG was very shy and reluctant to approach the other little girls.

As the adults chose tea, RG selected hot chocolate. The tea came with cream and sugar cubes. A bit to my surprise, the mommies let RG take a sugar cube and put it in her mouth. The tea shop gives each child one tiny teacup for the dolls; they get to keep the teacup. RG had brought her own highchair for the dolls; she put them side by side. She poured some water as “tea” and placed the cup and a sugar cube in front of the dolls.

After a while RG picked up the second sugar cube; it began to approach her mouth. Rosalina, evidently a child well-indoctrinated in the evils of sugar, walked over to our table and politely told RG that the sugar cube was only for the dolls and she shouldn’t put it in her mouth. RG regarded the child’s advice with the same polite interest she might have displayed if Sylvie (her family’s small cat) had started to give her instructions on table manners.

RG poured herself some hot chocolate, filling the cup perilously full. I regarded her adventures with the hot chocolate with the same watchful interest as I had earlier observed her tower building with the blocks. The result was similar; disaster seemed to threaten at every moment, but no accidents occurred. Is this an indication of RG’s life to come?

The waitress brought two saucers with balls of butter and jam, one for the mommies at their table and another for RG, Grandma, and me at our table. RG was obviously considering eating some butter and jam directly. Mommy (birth mother) told her that a) she should wait for scones to arrive and b) share the spreads with Grandma and Grandpa.

I could tell by the expression on RG’s face that she considered this a difficult philosophical problem that merited deep thought. While she was still pondering, scones and finger sandwiches arrived. Mommy explained that the procedure for dealing with a scone was to break up the scone and apply the spreads to the different portions.

RG had acquiesced on sharing the spreads; at this point her inner food serving artist took command. In action, she communicated: this is not how I serve and consume scones. She spread jam on top of the scone, then placed a ball of butter on top of the jam, contemplating the creation with the judicious eye of an experienced craftswoman. Everyone else regarded her work with silent awe. With a look of All right, I will go a little way toward your sensibilities, RG then mashed the butter into the jam and spread it on top of the jam, and then began to eat the scone with serious attention and concentration.

RG is finally beginning to learn to eat a meal. She ate all her finger sandwiches in a methodical way, except for the tuna sandwich. I learned that RG does not do tuna.

The meal ended with white cupcakes with jelly beans on top. RG worked her way through the cupcake; some of it splashed over herself and the chair. She completed dessert by eating the jelly beans. All and all, however, her table manners and savoir faire were excellent for a child of almost five years old.

As a shy introvert, RG held back from approaching the other children, though she regarded them from time to time with sly curiosity. At the end of the meal, Maurina and then Rosalina approached RG, showed her their dolls and engaged in a little conversation.

She held back quite a bit and regarded them shyly and did not contribute much to the conversation.

As an introvert myself, I am quite lacking in skills such as making small talk, though over the years I have gone from about 10% skill to perhaps 20% skill. It’s not like color blindness or deafness; it’s a skill that can be learned. I think it would be useful for the mommies to pay some attention to this as she grows up and teach her how to function a bit as an extrovert in a world where extroverts set much of the agenda.

After the tea, Mrs. Random talked a bit with the owner. In the years since the tea shop has opened, it has gone through three owners. The current owner is planning to try and sell it in January. She has found it to be exhausting work. Even in the current environment of financial panic, deathly to espresso stands and restaurants as they are such obvious places for people noticing financial calamity likely to fall upon them to cut back, the tea shop has been getting quite a bit of business. The owner finds that unless she works herself to death, she loses the money she might make by hiring help.

RG  and I went outside. She had been a little subdued by the end of the meal, but she perked up and talked about playing tag and showed me how Rosie could stand by herself. Eventually the mommies came out. They played London Bridge with RG, but after some excitement, the falling bridge bonked her nose and she dissolved in tears for a few minutes.

On the way home in the car, she looked exhausted and complained that her stomach hurt. The mommies dropped us at our car in the supermarket parking lot; and decided to stop in the market before heading for the ferry. The last we saw was RG running again.

I will spend tomorrow night at the Barely Extended Family’s house in the city and take care of her tomorrow as the mommies have to work and her preschool is closed.

I hope she has recovered by then. As I’ve mentioned before, adults are often oblivious to how hard small children work.

5 Responses to “Hard Work at the Baby Doll Tea”

  1. truce Says:

    Okay, next time you go to the Dolls Tea Shop, I’m inviting myself. I love scones.

    I love the social interactions of small children. So polite, yet so entirely and rightly selfish at the same time.

  2. I enjoyed reading about this, and empathized with the tea lady. My mother used to have a catering business putting on afternoon teas at historical houses, and I helped her. I would dress up in my Victorian clothes (which I had acquired for the Sherlock Holmes Society) and give a little speech about the history of afternoon tea, and generally charm the ladies. Even that part was hard work.

    I always liked it when children came to the tea. Children enjoy being treated like adults, and it amused me enormously to pay court to the little girls, overdressed as I was in my cutaway and striped trousers.

  3. I’m with RG, give me a box of sugar cubes and I’m a happy camper.

  4. I’m with you Truce. I now have a major scone craving.

  5. pandemonic Says:

    Oh, this was priceless.

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