Sunday was a big day. We celebrated Ruby's fifth birthday and Sadie's coming second birthday by going to the Chateau Laurier's High Tea. The girls had the Little Princess Tea and the rest of us had the Royaltea. Ruby and Sadie got all dressed up, Ruby was a vision in a lovely fall chiffon dress with a lavender print and Sadie wore a wonderfully evocative military style grey pinafore over a cream blouse. (I'll never be able to write a fashion blog.) Us adults didn't do quite so well with our attire but we all scrubbed up OK.
I had called ahead and done the 'wheelchair user' reservation, I'd also mentioned the fact that we're all vegetarians, I further mentioned that one of the children was just slightly under two. I hung up thinking, 'Well, I've done my part, now lets see if they do their part.' I find this a slightly tedious and anxiety provoking aspect of planning. I say 'disabled' and people hear 'can walk up seven steps' ... I say 'vegetarian' and people hear 'will eat chicken and fish'. But, I did what I could to make it a success.
We pulled up the drive of a truly lovely and majestic building ...
and Joe got out the chair and we waited for the rest to come up the driveway having walked from our hotel parking lot. An older couple came out of the lobby and looked down to see them all coming up towards the hotel. The sun had caught the gems on Ruby's waistline and they shone brightly, lighting her up like paparazzi bulbs. The older woman gasped and said, 'Look at those two lovely children!' My heart swelled with pride.
Then we were in and walking towards the restaurant. Ruby was tall enough to have seen in the windows and saw other little girls dressed up having tea and was bubbling over with excitement. Sadie was taken by the huge chandeliers and the amazing furniture. When we arrived and gave our name, they had a table waiting for us, on the lower level, and our waitress arrived and told us about the vegetarian options - without us asking. Everything went smoothly.
It's amazing what can happen when people 'listen' to what is being 'said' and 'hear' what is actually 'meant'. It's even more amazing that I find that amazing.
We had a lovely time. Free of stress. Full of laughter. Wonderful moments like seeing Sadie pick up a big cup of hot chocolate, and closing her eyes in delight as the whipped cream and the chocolate filled her senses. Like seeing Ruby carry herself with incredible poise - with exception of the moment that she dug her spoon into the jam because 'It's really, really, good.'
At one point, and this might be the high point for me, Ruby was standing beside me and I was telling her a story, her eyes danced as she listened, a captivated audience to my tale of watching her come up the driveway and what the woman had said. I noticed other people notice the love in her eyes as she listened to me talk. I noticed that her love, affected their view of me ... I became both more ordinary and more extraordinary in the same moment.
The funny thing about all this. The kids ate their food with great gusto and incredible refinement all at the same time. They left as stainless as their souls at birth - me, however, I had jam and butter and crumbs and tea all dribbled in a straight line down my shirt.
Ah well, the nice thing about being disabled ... people expect a mess
I have some pictures but I'm no photographer, I chose not to put them on the blog because they are blurred and smudged and look like I took them. I've got an email in to Mike to see if he can send me some of his so I can put them here for you all to see if you'd like.
Despite the line of mess down my shirt, I showed great poise myself when seeing the bill ... it's amazing what a cuppa tea can cost these days.