rituals: poetry tea-time (andrea miles).

I’m not sure if you’ll know what to do with the statement soon to follow, but here goes: this is our LAST Guest Post Tuesday for 2015! Pause and mourn and remember with me for a second …but, let’s not lament for too long, because I’m delighted to have Andrea Miles here with us again. She gives us a snapshot that the English Teacher Formerly Known as Myself can’t HELP but love. And I think you’ll love it as well. Enjoy! 

Uwe Paulet

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” – Marcel Proust

Homeschooling my three children was never something I’d planned for. But as my first-born started kindergarten five years ago, my husband and I realized homeschooling was exactly where God was leading us. And while I’ve loved it more than I could have expected, there are challenges. I’m not a perfect mother and I’m certainly not a perfect teacher. And some days are harder than others in my role as both mother and teacher.

I’d been upstairs in our school room with my 4th grader, when his brothers (2nd grade and kindergarten) burst into the room, angry voices crowding the space, tears filling both sets of blue eyes and threatening to slip down sweet cheeks. The day hadn’t been going well as it was before this interruption. My middle son had cried over his math earlier that morning and my oldest was struggling to pay attention to his history lesson. And now with this latest brother injustice, I was beginning to think we’d never finish our school day.

I stood, which got their attention. My oldest perked up; his brothers stopped fighting.

“It’s poetry tea-time,” I said and immediately three sets of dirty-boy feet clambered down the stairs.

I filled the kettle and turned on the gas stove while one child chose the flavor of tea (sugar cookie), one child chose the snack (chocolate chip biscotti), and one child chose the mugs and plates we’d use (Christmas-themed). And by the time the tea was steeped, our table was set and our poetry books were chosen. I served the tea, complete with cream and sugar, and the biscotti. As we sipped (with my middle son reminding us “pinkies up!” and my sweet-toothed youngest son insisting he needed more sugar), we flipped through the pages. When a poem caught our fancy, we’d read it aloud. (My non-reading youngest chose poems based on the accompanying picture, of course, and I’d read aloud for him.)

Sometimes, when we’ve all had a particularly grumpy morning, it’ll take a while for this ritual of poetry tea-time to work its magic. There will just be silence, punctuated by the turning of pages, the crunch of a cookie, a spoon clinking against a cup. Eventually, though, the warmth of the tea will begin to infuse us with contentment and someone will swipe crumbs from their lips with the back of a hand and [reluctantly] read a poem aloud. But once the first poem is read, another will soon follow and before I know it, we can’t read fast enough, with good-natured complaining about whose turn it is to read next.

As I sit at the table during these poetry tea-times, laughing with my children over silly limericks or marveling at complicated rhymes (remember, we are early elementary readers!), I am grateful for this ritual that can turn our day around. Maybe, when they’re grown with children of their own, they won’t remember how impatient I was as I explained multi-digit subtraction for the hundredth time, or scolded when they struggled to pay attention, or shouted in frustration when they punched their brother yet again even though the rule is No Hitting Your Brother!

Or maybe they’ll just have a cup of tea, recite a favorite line of poetry, and forgive me my parental imperfections.

AMiles author photo COLORAndrea Miles is a writer who doesn’t live in England despite her affection for tea. In fact, she can often be found drinking coffee first thing in the morning and exchanges tea on rainy days for hot chocolate. Really, the only odd thing about such a ritual is that hot beverages are her go-to drink when she lives in the southern state of Alabama! Visit her website, like her FB page, and purchase her first novel Trespassers at your favorite bookstore today. Cara again here: isn’t this a great way to end the year? Tea-time, y’all! Leave Andrea a comment below and tell her what poem you’d love to lift a pinky to during poetry tea-time.

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