Saturday, August 15, 2009
For the Love of Ice Cream
Here's a little secret to all children out there - your parents always want to give you treats. If there's a reason to celebrate, we want to shower you. We want you to be bathed in all things glowing and sweet and wonderful.

If we're out on an adventure, say, at a planetarium or a museum and you have been well behaved, we want to reward you. And if there's an ice cream stand on the way home - we want to stop and share the simplest of summer joys together as a family, jimmies and all.

Unfortunately, we do not want you to grow up rotten or demanding. We do not want you to feel entitled to every good thing that there is on this earth, simply because you were so kind as to bless it with your presence.

As parents we must be measured in our rewarding, in our discipline. And so, when you decide to deliberately disobey, and to throw your little body down on the ground and whimper when we simply tell you that you need to try to use the bathroom before we leave - you force us to do what we must.

Not without warning of course. We give you chances. We count to three - waiting patiently, hoping, crossing our fingers - that you might stand up, apologize and wrap your little arms around us. Or at the very least, pull it together and use the toilet without any more scenes.

But when we've let the number T H R E E stall long enough on the tips of our tongues and you are still prostrate on the floor, consequences happen.

No ice cream for you.

Even though we still want to give it to you. Even though it hurts us to watch you pout and watch your brother and cousin slurp chocolate soft serve from their plastic spoons and gleefully wipe rainbow jimmies from their chins.

Even though as we sit, you are well behaved and you are listening and though your lip quivers, you do not scream or shout or whine. You simply sit and watch with your round saucer eyes glistening, reflecting sunlight and hope - hope that we might cave perhaps and let slide one of our spoons to your lips.

But no. Alas, there are consequences for your actions. And though there is nothing we'd rather be doing than sharing our frozen treats with you, we can not. We must not. In the hopes that you might learn, might not sob when we tell you to try and pee before we take a long car ride, so that you might not wet yourself and your seat and the only pair of pants that we brought with us for the trip.

Please. Let this lesson of ice cream stick. May you remember the feeling of not eating the cool, creamy confection as much as your father and I are going to remember the sadness and longing in your eyes. Because really, truly, and you probably won't actually understand this until you have children yourself - I know I didn't - we always want to give you treats.

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