I Scream, You Scream… — by Jamie

I really hate the ice cream man. I know he’s an average Joe just trying to make a buck, but I’m tired of bumping into him wherever Jayda and I go to play in the summer. When we head to the playground, he’s parked right smack at the entrance; when we go to the beach, we see him even before we hit the sand; when we’re at the pool, his tempting wares are beckoning Jayda from the snack bar. I guess I should consider myself lucky that the ice cream man doesn’t drive down my street every night like he used to when I was a kid; that would be pure torture.

Last summer, a friend laughingly informed me that he used to call the ice cream truck the “music truck”—and had convinced his young kids that it was just a special truck that drove around and played music. I tried this tact a few times with Jayda, and it worked for awhile whenever we saw a moving ice cream truck, but once we came across a parked one—with kids standing around it and licking ice cream cones—my game was over. Jayda could no longer be fooled. And she had to have some ice cream, too.

I don’t mind taking Jayda out for an ice cream cone every now and then, and our freezer is stocked with moderately-sized ice cream treats that I let Jayda indulge in rather often. But the ice cream man’s cones and bars are ridiculously expensive—and incredibly oversized—and I hate being manipulated into buying them. Especially when Jayda and I are on an outdoor excursion that’s supposed to be an active one. To me, a summer play date is NOT about gorging on ice cream; it’s about running around and playing, swimming, and having fun with a friend. And then afterwards, there can sometimes be treat—even ice cream—involved. But the play date shouldn’t revolve around it! Yet, like Pavlov’s dog, whenever Jayda sees an ice cream truck, she starts salivating—or rather, obsessing out loud about having a “treat.” And her incessant whine drives me nuts for the next few hours, as she immediately loses focus on her friends and the fun time she should be having—and just dwells on that damn ice cream. It really drives me nuts.

Last weekend, we met two of Jayda’s friends at a local pool. Jayda was thrilled to play with them, but almost immediately—and well before noon—she started begging for ice cream; there was no ice cream truck parked at this pool, but there had been in the past, and Jayda just knew there was ice cream to be had at this place. I tried to divert her with other snacks, and offers of buying her whatever she wanted for lunch, but as usual, my strong-willed kid would not relent. I could have refused and just taken her home if she threw a tantrum, but I really didn’t want to end the play date. So I excused ourselves from our friends and took my now-smiling kid to the snack bar; I figured I’d save my lunch money and let her fill up on ice cream, instead. It was not an ideal solution, but we had a long day ahead of us and I didn’t want to battle through it. Well, to my surprise (and pleasure), the other two kids and their moms followed me. And as all three kids sat together in a row on a bench licking large soft-serve ice cream cones, I had to laugh: They were a vision of happiness—all blissfully smiling from ear to ear. Our kids were doing what kids everywhere love to do every summer—eating ice cream. And we were their indulgent moms just trying to keep our kids happy. It was a lovely afternoon. But I haven’t stopped hating the ice cream man. Though sometimes I do wonder if he needs an assistant…I’m betting he makes more money than I do freelancing!