Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The power of tea. And cappuccinos.

Pic: So much more than a simple cuppa...

This morning, my tousled Little Princess padded into the kitchen and sleepily asked for a cappuccino.

Not her usual ‘hot chocolate’ (Milo and chocolate flavouring). Not a bubbacino. But a real cappuccino. “Like you Mumma”.

Guilty as charged. I can't start the day without a strong, skim milk frothy cup of heaven, and clearly, Harmonie has picked up on my addiction.

Okay, obviously I’m not going to give a five-year-old caffeine. Harmonie’s cappuccino is just milk froth with chocolate powder on top. But as I watched her sipping it contentedly, it got me thinking: Isn’t if funny how kids are influenced by their parents?

Recently, my son Chase was in the middle of a temper tantrum and couldn't seem to get himself out of it. I can’t even remember what sparked it: Probably something major like his favourite TV show not being on, getting told off for trying to kill his sister, or being denied ice-cream for dinner. Whatever the case, he was angry, teary, defiant and out of control.

I tried all the usual child-calming tricks. Time out. Cuddles. Threats. Bribes. Whispering. Shouting.
Nothing worked.

Look, I sympathise with kids when they're in Full Tanty Mode. Adults find it hard to calm down when they're in the middle of a dispute, so why do we expect kids to do it so effortlessly?Frustrated myself, and having counted to ten, I finally thought: What calms me down when I’m stressed and out of control? And I realised: Usually, a soothing cup of tea or a medicinal glass of wine (or three!) does the trick.

Clearly, the wine is an option for the Monkey Man! So I went over to him, and quietly asked if he would like a cup of tea.
He stopped, mid-rant, immediately, and looked at me with interest. “What did you say?” he asked.
“I asked if you would like a cup of tea,” I said calmly. “When I’m angry or stressed about something, I find a cup of tea makes me feel better.”

Chase has never had tea before. I see a sparkle come into his eye and know I’ve won.
Tantrum forgotten, we spend the next 20 minutes or so making the tea – Good Aussie breakfast tea, weak, topped up with soy milk, and a couple of sugars. Chase is entranced by the ritual, and I sit beside him, chatting, while he drinks it. “You’re right Mum, I do feel better,” he says when he’s finished.

As I watch him walk happily towards his colouring books, I smile. It’s rare in parenting – at least at my home – that it all comes together. Suddenly, I feel like Super Mumma! Peace is restored and I had something to do with it. Parenting doesn’t get much better than that!

Now, whenever Chase is feeling anxious, teary, or sick, he’ll come to the kitchen and ask for a cup of tea.
My husband thinks I’m crazy giving the Monkey Man caffeine, but honestly, it’s half weak tea, half-milk. He’d probably get more caffeine from a bar of chocolate!
And when Chase is drinking it, I always make time to sit with him and chat. Usually I have a cup with him.

I’m hoping it will turn into one of those family rituals that will help to bond us for life.

I just have to make sure my habits are relatively harmless - at least the ones they see. I don't want them coming home from school one day in the future and saying: Can I please have a wine, Mum? Preferably something with bubbles?"

Anyone else got any kid-wrangling tips to share? Or are there family rituals that enhance your life?
I’d love to hear them!


Leslie said...

My daughter and I have dance parties. It turns both our moods right around. We just put on music and dance our butts off.

Julie M said...

Ah the soothing properties of a good cuppa... I take my hat off to you Bronnie, you seem to have found a simple remedy to what can often be a major hassle. And we mums all know how frustrating tantrums and tears can be, and that's when we're the ones raging and stamping our size fives :-)

Anyway, as I'm just enjoying my second cuppa of the day, I raise my Dairy Milk mug to you and Chase, and hope you enjoy many more calming cuppas together as he grows.

Emma in Canada said...

My kids have always had tea, since before they were a year, but I have never tried offering a cup in the midst of a tantrum or one being upset. Must try that, along with the chat. I imagine that's the important part!

I once said 'a cuppa' on my blog and I had quite a few people ask me what it was.

Angela said...

Anti-tantrum tea is an AWESOME idea! thanks for sharing!

Bronnie said...

Thanks girls, for sharing your own comments. Tea may not be a miracle worker, but it comes pretty close. And it's full of anti-oxidants too!