[I've begun a little series of columns for our local paper called "Family Adventures". Some of them will be too hyper-local to publish here, but since ice cream in the summer is a universal, read on.]
Despite only being 2, going-on-3, years old, the Kid is not ignorant of the art of persuasion when it comes to after-dinner treats.
He knows, for instance, that finishing his meal by demanding, “I want to go get ice cream!” is not likely to be successful. But if he phrases his request, “Mommy and daddy, would you like to go have some ice cream with me please?” it’s much harder to say no.
To be truthful though, in these last weeks of summer we’re easy marks either way. One of our family’s favorite things to do with the soon-to-be precious extra daylight is to walk downtown and buy a scoop of ice cream on Mass. Street.
The ritual has developed organically, but there are definite parts that we play out each time. We begin the walk making pleasant conversation. Typical husband-and-wife “How was your day?” stuff. But as we round the corner of South Park, the campaigning begins.
We gravitate between Sylas and Maddy’s and TCBY. Sweet Husband — the ice cream purist — likes Sylas and Maddy’s best, while I tend to prefer the slightly kinder effect of frozen yogurt on my girlish figure. We each lobby for the Kid’s vote, slinging promises like the worst of politicians.
Sweet Husband: “Sylas and Maddy’s has the blue ice cream that you like!”
Me: “But don’t you want to go to the place with all the candy toppings?”
This time it looks like I’m going to win the day with a pledge of handfuls of M&M’s. I soak in my victory as we pass by Sylas and Maddy’s. But Sweet Husband — down, but not out — suggests that I just take a peek in and see what’s on the menu. I peer past the neon sign, in through the window, to examine the hand-drawn chalkboard list.
“Oh man!” my smile fades. “They have blueberry tonight.”
Sweet Husband raises his eyebrows and smiles, knowing that we will be stopping at Sylas and Maddy’s. Extra calories or not, blueberry is my favorite, and I can’t pass it up.
I backtrack with the Kid. “Sylas and Maddy’s does have the Cookie Monster flavor,” I wheedle, wondering if I’m going to have to send him to therapy over this some day.
Thankfully, he’s not as picky as his parents when it comes to ice cream. With only a little bit of a “you’re crazy, Mom” look, the Kid agrees that Sylas and Maddy’s is fine.
Sweet Husband runs in to grab our cones, as the Kid and I sit outside on the curb next to a tree — a holdover from the days when we had a four-legged baby instead of a two-legged one. In between keeping the Kid from using his spoon to dig in the nasty wood chips, we enjoy our cones and some people watching.
A gaggle of new college students gossips past us as they slip in for some ice cream themselves. I smile at a new mother and father trying have dinner on the patio of Buffalo Wild Wings with an infant and a toddler. An older woman walks by with a fluffy, white cloud of a dog who looks hopefully at the Kid’s nearly empty ice cream bowl.
Of course, as many times as we’ve done this, we never remember to bring baby wipes. So, as we finish, we scrub the Kid up as best we can with our tiny, rough napkins. Then we walk back through the park — sticky, happy and full.