Thursday, October 11, 2012

Because I Said So: We all scheme for ice cream

I guess it started with my mother, if such a thing needs an origin. My mom had her nightly bowl of ice cream and now I need mine. My dirty little secret, though, is that I wait until the kids are in bed so that I don't have to make many extra bowls, so it will all last longer. Indeed, I do not want to share. I'm not alone in this, I've talked to other parents who do the same thing. It's a relaxing part of our hectic days when we get to sit alone with no one clinging and asking for anything, for everything, and eat that sweet, sweet no-kids-allowed ice cream.

Today's Because I Said So column is all about that, all about that time of the day that is just for us. Maybe it's not ice cream for you, so what is your escape? Perhaps it's a brownie or cake (but why would you have cake without ice cream?), or a burrito or a few fingers of good scotch. Whatever it is, it's all about you and that's nothing to be ashamed of because doing this – raising and worrying over kids – is the toughest job we'll ever have.

I hope you enjoy reading today's column as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Jig is up on ice cream secret
Every parent has the shared experience of that first time a child walks into the bedroom unannounced. You know that moment well — the humiliation, the embarrassment of it all. You thought you locked the door, were sure you did, but the knob turns, a hinge squeaks, and before you realize what's happening, you've been caught.

There, in front of your innocent child, bathed in the blue glow of Conan O'Brien or Stephen Colbert, you've been caught with an enormous bowl of after-the-kids-have-gone-to-bed ice cream.

It feels like the jig is up, doesn't it? Innocence lost. Will you ever get that time to yourself again? The fear is that you'll have to do as Daddy says, not as he does, and share your late-night treat. Who among us hasn't told our children that, no, sorry, there isn't any ice cream left, only to dish the last heaping scoops for yourself?

And who among us hasn't told a spouse the same thing?

Me neither.

Young people may not understand the importance of such a dessert. That pitiful bowl of ice cream is our all-night dance club, our favorite indie band at the Hi-Tone, our last call. It's an escape, oftentimes our only one, a Fortress of Solitude in an icy carton. We recognize each other when we pass on the street, that dribbled spot of chocolate on our shirts is our club's badge, the glow in our eyes on the frozen dessert aisle a secret handshake. We don't scream for ice cream, but whisper about it under the cover of darkness.

When little Jimmy walks through that door to find your face smeared with Neapolitan, a mountain of cream cradled in your arms, it's the first time he suspects that he is not the apple of your eye; that the apple of your eye is actually a cherry on top of a banana split you spent more time planning and putting together than you did his dinner earlier that evening.

It's the best-tasting dessert there is, isn't it? There is no more delicious frozen treat — not Baskin-Robbins, not YoLo, not a Jerry's Sno Cone. My personal favorite flavor is whatever happens to be in the freezer at 9:05 p.m.

We have so little as parents, and it all revolves around food. There's that coffee in the half-hour before the kids wake up for school, the trip to the Kroger alone for that one thing forgotten on the last shopping trip (and more ice cream), and that bowl after bedtime.

Give it up? They'll have to pry that spoon from my frozen, chocolaty fingers.

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