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Where I recount an evening trip for ice cream

by John on May 3rd, 2012

We went out for ice cream last night.

Normally, this isn’t big news – but when you’re the parent of toddlers, it is1. We have a little mom & pop place, not too far from the house, that makes some wonderful ice cream . . . so we packed the kids into my truck and off we went.

This little mom & pop ice cream place offers little kids free “kiddie cones,” and CJ is an old hat with these. Leila, up to this point, however, has always eaten from one (or both) of his parent’s cones.

I got salted caramel ice cream, Duffy & CJ got chocolate, and, as it appears that Leila may have inherited my “chocolate is absolutely icky” gene, she got raspberry.

We expected a mess . . . that’s about all I can say as to what we were expecting. What we got — just wow.

Every single time Leila took a lick of the ice cream cone, it was pure joy. She’d smile. She’d giggle. She’d jump up and down. She’d squeal in delight. She’d run around, find something to “hide behind” and play peekaboo.

Then she’d put herself into a sumo-wrestler pose and go through the whole thing again.

Every lick delivered boundless joy. It made me actually sad . . . because, sure, there are times that I get such joy . . . I’m thinking about the first drop of a roller coaster if it’s been awhile, but, the next time, it’s just a little bit lessened. There was none of that here . . . each lick was pure, unadulterated joy.

The more astute of you might notice that I keep saying “lick,” though . . . and never bite.

And toddler licks are very, very small licks.

And the ice cream was melting, everywhere.

And we had places to be.

After awhile, when the ice cream cone was more soup than ice cream, she stopped eating it as frequently. But, when we asked her if she was done, we received an emphatic “no” and she would walk away from us.

“Well, if you’re not done, you better eat it” we’d say, and she’d take a lick, and she’s squeal, and she’d be happier than she’d ever been before.

The time that we had to leave, though, approached . . and I became the meanest father, ever.

When Leila pulled the ice cream cone away from Duffy‘s reach, I grabbed it from her and threw it out (I’d have eaten it, but it was mess of smooshed cake cone and soupy ice cream and napkin).

The protest was immediate.

She screamed. She went to the trash can, reaching in, trying to retrieve her precious. When we tried to console her, she went “wet noodle” and flopped to the ground. When we tried to clean her hands & face & clothes, she informed that the baby wipe had the consistency of barbed wire.

The tantrum continued through the ride . . . it wasn’t until she could start watching Charlotte’s Web on DVD that she could be consistently distracted.

So, I truly regret the fact that I no longer feel such pure joy as that of a toddler . . . I’m quite appreciative that my world doesn’t collapse every time there’s a disappointment.

1 Who the heck am I kidding? There is seldom any bigger news than ice cream, with or without toddlers around you.
2 It was so good.

  1. I go through the melting of ice cream with Handsome too. I know the trantrums all too well. He loves it, but can’t seem to eat it fast enough. It’s like he’s savoring every last lick. Where as I gobble mine so fast it rarely makes it to melting point. Damn you. Now I want some ice cream!

    • It was especially good ice cream.

      But I always, always want ice cream 😉

  2. Love the last line – so perfectly true. And truly – there’s nothing better than a mom and pop ice cream place.

    • They hire kids from the high school, they’re super nice, and they make really, really good ice cream. It’s a good thing.

  3. I’m kind of sad I can’t adopt the wet noodle stance in protest when I don’t want to do something…

    • And who says that you can’t?!

      I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve, nearly, given greveious injury to Leila, trying to pick her up & console her at the beginning of a tantrum, when she’s gone wet noodle when I wasn’t expecting it.

  4. Wait, the world isn’t supposed to collapse? I’m doing this adult thing all wrong.
    Also, I’m going home and having ice cream. Hell, we’ll all have it. Ice Cream for DInner I declare! Let the good times roll, drip and melt!

    Also: I think I love her. (Maddy, take note of the cuteness!)

    • The world doesn’t collapse only because the adult me realizes that, as soon as I think “it can’t get worse,” it will.

      Damn adult cynicism.

      I have a friend who absolutely vetoed the offer of ice cream for dessert one day . . . the reason was because she had eaten ice cream for dinner too often, recently.

  5. John missed the ice cream dance the kids did before we left the house.

    • I forget what I was doing during the ice cream dance, but I didn’t actually get to witness the ice cream dance. I do love that our kids are dancing.

  6. I do the wet noodle when I don’t get my way too.

    Also? I sneak licks/bites of Ed’s ice cream when we go out because COME ON, kid!

    • I actually tried to sneak a bite of Leila’s ice cream cone, to limit the mess (and eat some raspberry ice cream), but she was really onto me, and it was hers. While I love having two at similar ages, they seem to have a very advanced concept of ownership — moreso than most other toddlers.

  7. That made me sad. I love the toddler joy. I don’t mid temper tantrums, which means, as you know, I have teenagers. So I get temper tantrums. I also get very few moments of pure joy. Mostly eye rolling, hormones and scary peer issues. I’ll take 5 more minutes of joy please.

    • The effect of that joy on my mood is completely indescribable – I, simply, can’t be in a crappy mood when seeing the great big smile, the “there is nothing that could possibly be better in this world than what I have right now.”

      It’s especially wonderful when the kid wakes up, is crying, and then sees you, wanting nothing more than to be held.

      I have no idea how I’m going to make it through the teenage years. No clue at all.

  8. I cringe and love the ice cream mess all at once. Also I change them into play clothes because I’m all OCD like that. xo

    • Every Thursday, Duffy & the kids come out and we head to lunch, together, almost always at a Chinese buffet. I’m sure you can imagine what toddlers are like with cleanliness at a Chinese buffet.

      I spend my afternoon apologizing for the state of my clothing, as I usually have tiny handprints that look suspiciously like General Tso’s sauce all over me.

      I’m totally the dad who takes the kid for ice cream from church, in their Sunday best, and then has them wearing stained outfits all day long (though, actually, if their dressing is fully up to me, they’d be in play clothes or pajamas all day, every day)

  9. David Haas permalink

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

  10. Going out for ice-cream in the evening IS about the best thing imaginable. And salted caramel, you say? SWOON.

    Followed by Charlotte’s Web? Right on!

    You might not be the meanest daddy in the world after all.

    • Well, the salted caramel was for me. Raspberry for the girl, but she picked it, and she loved it . . . until I took it away.

      I really wish there was a way to distract a grown up with the same success as Charlotte’s Web distracts my daughter. It doesn’t matter what’s happened, when she sees “pig,” she’s content & paying attention.

  11. Oh the wet noodle move. They are so smart aren’t they? And luckily cute enough that you will forget all about this and take her for ice cream again and again.

    • The wet noodle move drives me bonkers. Because, just as you think “ok, I’ll pick you up and comfort you,” it now feels like you actually helped throw them to the floor right after she’s slipped through your grasp. Gah.

  12. Salted caramel ice cream.

    Did you type anything else?

    Yeah. Didn’t think so…

    • Yeah, the rest is just filler.

      The salted caramel ice cream was ridiculously good.

  13. Truth. How easy it is to be amused. Why do we lose that?

    • I think we lose that because we gain the ability to not let our worlds fall apart when the smallest thing goes wrong.

  14. Good gods, you had me at salted caramel.
    I so hear you about the toddler joy. It’s a beautiful thing laced with sadness for me, too.
    The tantrum? Sounds familiar…
    I love the part about her reaching back in for her cone. That is classic and that’s the part where I start to laugh with my daughter because it’s such off the charts behavior. What if you got it? You would eat it? After it’s been in the garbage? I don’t think my laughing helps with the tantrum, though.

    • It’s funny – Leila was throwing a tantrum the other day, and she came out swinging, and nearly punched me in the nose. And all I could think was “that’s very nearly what happened to Quasi Agitato.”

      With my daughter, I have zero doubt that she’d have eaten the cone after retrieving it from the garbage. She’s not yet 2, and the concept of “yucky” just hasn’t quite set in. She spends far too much time playing with the diaper pail.

  15. You’re so right, the wet noodle is a bad look at the office.

  16. Salted caramel is an ice cream flavor?!?! I must have such a thing.

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