Spooning up mouth-watering ice cream from clear plastic dishes at quaint local joints is something I always enjoy. Whether somewhere in Minnesota or traveling this beautiful country, ice cream is my favorite dessert.
This post, with it’s opening sentences somewhat reminiscent of my fr. speech class persuasive speech on “Why ice cream should be America’s number one dessert,” is actually about something much more important.
Something not measured in scoops or pints.
The something I’m referring to? Creamy conversations with children.
Two children to be exact – different ages, different genders, different families – same ice cream shop. Two dates I will never forget.
The first was with a Batman-and-Robin-Luke-and-Leia-Light-Sabers-and-sand-box-loving boy.
Unsure of what the ice cream place was like, though I had been told by said boy that the ice cream was good, I was pleased when the shop was small, quaint, and uniquely Minnesotan. Other patrons were lapping up their cold treats and the flavors were varied and drool-worthy. My Batman loving buddy picked his flavor, Mint Chocolate Chip, and we grabbed a table — he sat on the bench, I sat across from him on a chair. He took big bites. He talked in between bites. He stood on the bench to look around. All of it was pure boy – pure innocent little boy enjoying an ice cream treat.
As he shoveled in big bites of his Mint Chocolate Chip, I sat back and watched and glanced at the table next to us. There sat three boys – ages 14-16. With their baseball hats and athletic looking apparel, I didn’t think much of their presence. They were huddled around their table, staring at their cell phones – or so I assumed. When they suddenly all sat back, somewhat in pain, I noticed that they were huddled around not iPhones or Samsung messaging phones, but around a large bowl of ice cream.
Large as in almost as big as the table they sat at. Large meaning filled at one point with up to 14 scoops of ice cream. It was Man (Boys) Vs. Food (ice cream) – LIVE. And it was funny to watch. They were enjoying themselves, though their faces twisted in pain numerous times and there was lots of stomach-clutching, I could tell they were having a blast.
Remembering my little buddy, I asked him what he thought of the situation. Puzzled look on his face he asked what they were doing. When I told him they were eating all the ice cream in the bowl, he said his mom wouldn’t like that. I laughed. How could I not? Catching the attention of one of the teen boys, I asked if the challenge was something they put on their summer to-do list. Breaking away from the ice cream, he nodded and said it was “on our bucket list.”
I kept glancing between the teen boys, still so young and sweet, and the baby boy, growing so fast. And I thought of how those three teen boys had once been little – how once their lives had revolved around Batman and Star Wars, how they had been the ones awe-struck by “big boys.” And I thought of the boy that sat in front of me – how he will one day outgrow Batman and Star Wars, how he will one day be the big boy. But for that moment in the ice cream shop, they were just boys. Little and big; brought together by something they won’t outgrow – ice cream.
That was the first date.
The second was with a Disney-Princess-dress-up-loving girl. Older and chattier than the boy, our date to the ice cream shop was much different. Though exactly the same. Evening instead of day-time, we entered the now familiar ice cream parlor. Two teen boys worked the counter and dished up her sweetly-pink ice cream flavors. Noticing I wasn’t getting ice cream, the little girl insisted I get something. Opting for the Mackinac Island Fudge, we turned and chose a table in the empty shop.
She chose the bench. About to sit on the chair opposite her, she told me to take a seat next to her on the bench. Willingly I did so. She talked. She giggled. She squealed. She told stories. She asked questions.
Favorite Disney Princesses were listed multiple times. I asked her who her favorite Prince was and she informed she didn’t like the Princes, but she did like Eric (Little Mermaid). While we chatted, we savored our treats. Unlike the little boy and the big boys I had seen wolf down their ice cream, this little girl ate slowly and purposefully and was unable to finish her double-scoop (she had to have two flavors). I, of course, had no problems polishing off my Mackinac Island Fudge.
This time as I sat and watched a child eat ice cream I had different thoughts. Naturally she is a girl so the conversation swirled differently – colored with pinkness and strawberry happiness. But her chatter and happy laughter and our “girl time” got me thinking – thinking about the day when trips to the ice cream shop will be with her girl friends, when she will officially like Princes (Eric and otherwise – former Batman-Star-Wars-loving boys) and when her laughter will be part of a chorus of giggling girls.
Once again, I saw life on a spectrum – a time-line from here to there – from now to then with one thing in common: ice creamy conversations.