My husband has taken to churning our own ice cream. He does this both as homage to the fifth food group and in order to provide a treat that all the children can eat. We make it without eggs for the oldest and youngest and with honey instead of sugar for the middle child. It is time consuming and expensive, but it is a labor of love.
The children adore it. Well, the boys adore it. Lilah doesn’t quite see the point. Zachary, on the other hand, takes tiny little bites, making his bowl last at least fifteen minutes. Benjamin, although he takes enormous bites, can make his bowl last that long, too. This is because he gets up in the middle to pee. By the time he returns to the room, he has forgotten why he was coming back to the table. He sees magna tiles on the floor. He gets agitated because his building of two hours before has been destroyed. He decides to build a new one, this time a rocket with some sort of side pod on it. It requires Tinker Toys for scaffolding.
“Benjamin, are you going to finish this ice cream?” I ask him. He completely ignores me. “Benjamin, please answer me. Can I have the rest of your ice cream?”
“Then please come finish it.”
“No! I’m building something.”
“Then I am going to take it away.”
“Look, child,” I say. “Either you are eating ice cream or you are building something. The ice cream is turning to soup.” To him, of course, there is no earthly reason why the ice cream should not exist in a state of suspended animation while he pursues his goal of the moment. He will return to the ice cream when he is ready, and it will be just as he left it.
Such is the thought process of a three-year-old.
To him, there is nothing of importance other than whatever is currently of importance. Sometimes, it is endearing, such as when he constructs an imaginary world of boats and dangerous creatures out of the cushions on the couch. Other times, it is life-threatening, as when he turns to comment upon the door of the house we are passing, forgetting the Golden Rule: when riding a bike, always face forward. In fact, we try to encourage facing forward as sort of a goal for him. When walking through a room, face forward to watch for walls instead of looking behind to see where your sister is. When descending the stairs, face forward to gauge the distance to the next step, rather than turning to tell us all about the possible existence of dragons in the attic. When standing at the toilet, well, kiddo, please, please, just face forward.
I clear the melted ice cream, causing him to shriek and run to the table. I give back the ice cream. He sits down. Then, he starts to wail.
“I need more ice cream!” Sometimes, the ice cream is on Eastern Standard Time.