The Ice Cream Con
“Hey big guy,” I said to my seven-year-old after soccer practice. “Let’s skip the ice cream tonight.”
We have a tradition of ice cream after soccer practices, one that I’d started when I joked that “if you score a goal, I’ll get you an ice cream cone.”
“But Da-ad,” he said. “I scored a goal.”
Of course he did. They always do. What kind of a soccer practice would it be if at least one drill didn’t involve kicking balls into the net? “I know,” I said. “But we had fudgsicles after dinner, and practice ran late, and my stomach’s upset.”
I don’t know why I thought any of that would matter. My son was truly and honestly upset, and he did his best to convince me that ice cream wasn’t just the best thing to do, it was the right thing to do. After all, his brother had gotten ice cream after his last soccer practice.
“I know,” I said. “And you did too.”
“No I didn’t.”
I looked at him in the rearview mirror. I hadn’t been there for that practice. Instead, my wife had taken both boys to the practice. “Are you saying your momma took you and your brother to Mickey D’s, and got everyone ice cream but you?”
“No.” He looked away. “But mine was really small.”
“They only have one size.”
“Na-ah. Theirs were big and mine was really, really small.”
That was the last he said about it. There was no more whining or questions or “please why can’t we”s, but each time I glanced back at him, he looked devastatingly sad.
So, naturally, we ended up at McDonald’s eating ice cream.
As we munched, I decided it was time to let the little guy know that he hadn’t gotten away with anything. “I have to call momma,” I said to him. “Just to check in.”
While he watched, I dialed the phone and said hello. “So,” I said, “the big guy here says that when you took them out for ice cream the other day, you only let him get a super small cone.”
My youngest’s eyes widened in horror. Then he started to laugh.
“What?” my wife asked.
“Yep,” I said. “That’s what he told me. He said we had to get ice cream because the one you got him was super small, that it wasn’t fair.”
The little guy was laughing so hard, his face was red. He leaned on the table, holding his cone with both hands, tears streaming down his face.
I finished up my phone call, and then fixed him with my daddy glare. “You were telling me a story,” I said.
He tried to answer, but couldn’t speak because he was laughing so hard. Instead, he just nodded.
“You know what that gets?” I asked, leaning forward.
He shook his head, pulling himself together. “No,” he gulped. “I didn’t mean-”
I bumped his ice cream cone up and onto his nose, not hard enough to spill any, just enough to coat his nose with soft-serve.
He stared at me for a second, and then burst out laughing again.