Monday, June 20, 2011

For the Love of Ice Cream

"Aw... come on now... it can't be that bad, Jule.  Let's go get a Birdsall's (a local ice cream shoppe - that has the best banana fudge ice cream - hands down)!
These are the words that were spoken to me every time I needed to be cheered up, encouraged, consoled, motivated, or celebrated with.  I am now 41 years old and my Dad is still taking me to Birdsall's for ice cream.  Who knew ice cream had healing properties?  It's true.  Something about the process of looking up at the menu board and choosing an ice cream treat, licking in a swirl fashion, and thinking about nothing else, but how good it tastes - has the power to make the world just a little sunnier for the moment.  And, as it turns out - most of us only need a moment.
So how lucky am I that my Dad has shared this ice cream wisdom with me my entire life?
My bike was backed over and crunched up when I was four - let's go get an ice cream.
My friends planned a sleep over and didn't invite me - time for ice cream.
I earned a "Superior" on my piano solo I was crazy nervous about - ice cream, here we come.
The school play didn't need my talent - ice cream fixed this too.
A break-up with a boyfriend - only ice cream would do.
Thank goodness, as I've gotten older, Birdsall's has been the answer to more celebrations than defeats.
College graduation, getting my first job, my first apartment, my first car - all causes for an ice cream cone.  But my favorite ice cream celebration at Birdsall's happened when I wasn't even there.  Seven or eight years ago on a hot day in July, I had been helping my parents clean out their basement - and my Dad was on grandson duty.  He had been entertaining - or containing my toddler when my Mom and I realized it was very quiet upstairs.  They were either napping together in the recliner - or they were gone.  Soon enough we heard the back door slam and the kitchen faucet was in full force along with a lot of giggling.  Evidently, it was time to carry on the tradition with my son.  Neither my son nor my father have earned medals for neatness - so, as you can imagine, both of them had been treated to an ice cream cone - one was an expert ice cream eater - the other - quite the novice.  At the end of this adventure, both were covered in sticky, melty missed slurps of some delicious concoction of Birdsall's ice cream - and just like that, the healing powers of ice cream were passed on to the next generation.
Happy Father's Day - to the best ice cream lovin' Dad and Grandpa in the world!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spaceman Spiff Saves the Day

Spaceman Spiff - do you remember him?  He's the alter ego of one little mischievous boy named Calvin.  Calvin and Hobbes, that is.  One of my favorite comic strips - no longer in the Sunday Paper, but now retired to paperback volumes you can find in the Geek Section at your local Barnes and Noble. Well, Spiff was reincarnated on the sofa in our sun room yesterday.  This is how it happened.  I had been requested to read to my youngest, and as it goes - way too often, I had put her off so I could finish a little project.
"Just ten minutes and I will be right there.  Go pick out the books you would like to read, and I promise I will be ready.  Thanks, Honey."
"Okaaaaaay," replied the dejected seven year old.  Tromp, tromp, tromp.  Down the stairs she pointed her little body, and went to choose her books.  Then in just a few moments, I heard the return tromps back to the top of the stairs.  Then, a surprise:
"I'll read to you - come over here, and we can read together," said the voice of one ten year old brother.
How could this be?  Seriously?  Just one second ago we were knee-deep in the de-tox, re-entry week of transitioning school life into summer life... with mom.  It's been one of our rockier transitions - not one we would like to repeat.  Well... unbeknownst to me, the control and attention issues that seemed to be consuming our early days of summer are now at bay, and peace has come to settle in the valley... in the form of Spaceman Spiff.
As I finished the "urgent" project, I heard somewhere behind me,
"... and then a humongous meteorite explodes into the galactic ship - forcing a crash through the ozone!  The small aliens are zipped out into space and it looks as though they will perish.. until Spaceman Spiff comes to the rescue!  He points super heat lasers at the ship's side and melts off a piece so the aliens can rejoin their crew! Yes!"
Well, thank goodness.  I was overwhelmed with a heartfelt mommy moment.  I smiled and felt happy that my two children were snuggled around the Calvin and Hobbes Treasury  - content and peaceful... actually happy to be in each other's company.
Then it dawned on me.  For the last week, I have played the role of the well-meaning alien - trying to guide (or maybe force) the ship safely to a landing strip in the land of summer.... and a meteorite in the form of a seven year old, has been bent on crashing our ship... until Spiff (played by a rather unassuming, peace-loving ten year old) guides our ship back to safety.
At the end of the day, the alien found her place, the galactic ship burnt out - but not before its pilot ejected at the last moment and joined the aliens happily, and Spaceman Spiff made sandwiches for the exhausted crew.  And they all lived happily ever after... until school starts again.