Now and then, we take our kids out for ice cream. Not very often, of course, because we wouldn’t want them to get the idea we like ice cream; but, given that there are four ice cream places a ten minute walk from our house, we feel obligated to every now and then support the local economy. (Not that we walk anymore, because for me it is a 45 minute walk to any of these places.)
Zachary used to like Coldstone, but he has switched allegiances to the gelato place three doors down. “I want the pink one with chocolate,” he declares, pointing out the strawberry drizzled in chocolate.
“I want pink ice cream!” his brother echoes.
Served, we all sit at a little square table in the otherwise deserted shop. “Do you like that one?” two-year-old Benjamin inquires of my flavor.
“Yes, I do,” I reply, ever wary of his moves on other people’s food.
“I like this one!” he informs me.
Zachary somehow manages to keep up a steady course of conversation while eating his gelato. By this point in the evening, I have already had to explain sperm donors, digestion, and our neighbor’s back gate. I am tired, yet I know there is another hour and a half of questions to come before bed. It doesn’t help that Zachary is the world’s most impressive savorer. He can make a cupcake last for 20 minutes, and he spends three times as long with his ice cream cup as everyone else.
And then, the background radio station changes songs. J and I look up at each other and smile. “You know it’s a good song,” I say, “when it gets you through junior high angst, high school dances, college driving, and then sitting and eating ice cream with your kids.”
“That’s a blog post,” he tells me.
We listen for a moment, and then together softly sing two words along with the band: “sweet perfume.”
Zachary, oblivious to the nostalgia around him, continues to talk. “Look, there are two A’s in that sign,” as he points to the movie theater across the street. “That’s matching.”
We agree, but our attention is on the song, both of us there at the table and somewhere across the country a decade or two ago.
“It’s a motorcycle,” Benjamin says, pointing to the picture on the wall.
“It’s a Vespa,” his father corrects, as the radio informs us that some were born to sing the blues.
As the song goes into its final wind up, I look at my eldest, rendered tender by the music. I must have some kind of a smile on my face, because, in between nibbles of strawberry gelato, he gazes at me.
“I love you, Mommy.”