And indeed, last Thursday we participated in the International Fairy Tea Party, an annual event held worldwide each year around the time of the Autumn equinox to celebrate the wonder of play. I first heard about this a couple of years ago during a conference and this year I decided we would participate in our own little way. This sounds like the kind of thing I could totally get carried away with, but since it is a busy time of year with school, pending holidays and the start of my new outdoor Storytime playgroup (which also got to celebrate a bit with some traveling mud-kitchen play last week), I needed to keep it short and simple. So instead of having an elaborate spread and 368 activities to go along with it, I set out what we had in the house along with some little fairy toys for small world play at the table (yes, at the table!) and a couple of simple activities. And you know what? It wasn't the most planned and prepared party I've ever thrown here, but it was just perfect for us and for the occasion.
My children understand that fairies are "made up" and "pretend." Most children do differentiate between real creatures and fictional ones. It is still so much fun for them to play and wonder about. Perhaps it is because they are so small and children can feel so big. Perhaps it is because you can't see them. Even adults have taken a liking to fairy gardens and houses and here we have little spaces indoors and outside to imagine, wonder and play. In some ways, leaving little setups for the boys to discover (and C when she's a bit older) and for them to alter and rearrange is like passing little love notes between one another. And now that our days are filled by school and other activities, having a little celebration on a Thursday is another lovely way to say "I love you" on an otherwise ordinary day.
I did make one little investment for our fairy tea party and that was a family set of "fairy wing" costumes from our local Dollar Tree store. Once we returned from picking up S at his school, everyone arrived home to find the table set for tea! The "tea" of choice was apple cider, a perfect way to welcome Autumn on a rare but welcome cooler day here.
|Even C got in on the fun!|
And every little fairy needs a home. I thought it might be fun since we were already playing at the table to make some simple edible fairy houses using the tea biscuits and some frosting. Oh, and sprinkles. Definitely sprinkles...
|S got quite into this and took some creative license...|
|Y was mostly interested in eating his fairy house before much building could be completed!|
|S built a boat house for his fairy!|
S has already asked to do this activity again for Purim. And great minds do think alike--I had thought the very same thing as I was setting this up!
I like to think that play is something we celebrate here every day. I am quite lucky that each of the boys have teachers and schools who value this as well. They don't come home play-deprived and having sat at a desk all day at their young ages. They do come home pleasantly exhausted! And home needs to be a place to settle into after a long and fun-filled school day. It's a place where they can let their guards down a bit (and they do) and also a place where they can determine the pace. I feel like (at least for now) we all need a bit of a slower pace in the evenings and some time to connect and unwind. This was such a fun and simple way to do that.
And while I would like to say that I always have our afternoon calendar blocked out only for play, sometimes it's overfilled and there just aren't enough hours in a day. There are afternoons here where I can only describe S's behavior as "frantically playing." He loves kindergarten. He is also so eager to be home and play with his toys. He is also aware that there are only a few hours left before bedtime and there is so much still he wants to do. He is busy from the moment he comes in until he crashes in a heap of snuggles in his bed. Y has a bit more time at home for now, so he tends to be a bit more evenly paced. He also tends to be really tired and grumpy by time 4:00PM hits. C is quite alert in the afternoons and evenings and will eventually fight tooth and nail to stay awake before succumbing to slumber sometime between 8 and 10PM... And having a day blocked off on my calendar, International Fairy Tea Party Day, means that I consciously made time and space for each of the kids' energy levels and play needs. It means that I designated this time to connect with them and play along as well rather than pacing in and out of the room as I tried to unpack backpacks and repack lunch boxes... And I realize that I, too, am in need of that time to play. In fact, I hope I will make the decision to block off an afternoon on our calendar a bit more often!