That Old, Familiar Tune

My three-year-old son, Andy, was playing happily in the backyard. The air was warm, the sun was shining, and he was quietly examining a ladybug. He was studying it with his eyes, instead of his mouth, so I was very happy. His tiny brow wrinkled in concentration as he squatted in the dirt, the wind ruffling his hair. Suddenly, his ears twitched, his pupils constricted, and his head snapped up like a meerkat. “Mama, I hear somefing!” he whispered, and ever so faintly, like a fairy’s melody, I heard it too: the siren song of the ice-cream truck.

Andy sprang into action, sprinting towards the front yard, shrieking “ICE-CWEAM! ICE-CWEAM!” while Molly, who’d been watching TV inside, zoomed outdoors like her feet were on fire. I barely caught the two of them before they met the road. Arms and legs were flailing as I carried them inside. “Wait!” I blurted, dodging kicks and gnashing teeth, “I have to (GRUNT) get some (OW!) money!” Grabbing my wallet while holding two kid-tornadoes, we made it back outside, where I convinced them the sidewalk was safer than the middle of the road. The ragtime jazz music became louder and louder, until that bastion of summer cruised into view: the square-framed, sticker bedazzled ice-cream truck.

“I WANNA POPSTICKLE! NO, I WANNA FREEZIE! NO, WAIT, I WANNA SNO-CONE!” the kids screeched. The driver smiled, bemused, as I settled on two freezies and an ice-cream sandwich for myself. The kids snacked happily as I paid for the outrageously overpriced treats. FOUR DOLLARS FOR A TUBE OF FROZEN WATER AND FOOD DYE?? WHAT’S THIS WORLD COMING TO? And my run of the mill treat, which is two dollars at the grocery store, cost FIVE DOLLARS. I’m breaking the bank on these sugary delights! I remember when a toonie (a two dollar Canadian coin) got you four freezies and some change! (Oh great, now I sound like a crotchety old woman. Won’t be long before I’m yelling at kids to “get off my lawn!”)

Still, I’m not going to deny my kids the sheer pleasure of road-side frozen desserts, because, quite frankly, I enjoy them too. I remember the sharp pain of sprinting down my driveway as a kid only to see the back of the ice-cream truck as it disappeared from view. I vow that my offspring will never know such agony! So, I’ll keep buying ice-cream whenever the truck shows up, which isn’t often, thankfully. My one sticking point, that I’m sure is shared by many parents, however, is why does it always show up twenty minutes before dinner?