One of the nice things about being back in the motherland is the large, green park just a short walk away. It’s a firm favourite with the boys: a jungle-themed adventure playground, a cricket pitch, an indoor pool with slides, paths to scoot along, and the best bit (in Son2’s opinion), an ice cream van.
Leaving the house today, Son2 turns to me and says, “Bring money, Mom!” He grins. He checks I’ve remembered every time we go to the park. That old chestnut, “Oh, I’m sorry, no ice cream today, I’ve got NO money!”, no longer works.
And I have to admit that even I listen out for Mr Whippy’s jingle because without a tinny rendition of Greensleeves it feels like there’s something missing.
Ice cream vans conjure up such wonderful images of summer, sticky-faced kids, and days at the beach. Growing up in the UK, summer holidays weren’t complete without the thin, peculiar chime of an ice cream van shooting down a warm, child-cluttered, residential street, a crowd of excited kids in pursuit. Unless you lived in certain parts of the country, in which case they were undercover police.
But as much as Son2 loves indulging in a lolly, he loathes sharing it.
Today, there was thunder and lightning forecast for 1pm (living in a country where there’s very little weather, it amazes me that the British weather people provide such up-to-the minute forecasts.) Sure enough, as 1pm rolls around, dark clouds roll in. A stiff breeze drifts across the park, rustling the rhododendron bushes. Never mind that five minutes previously it was sunny and hot.
“Quick Mom, let’s get the lolly!” Son2 swivels on his heels and runs up the path towards the van, strategically parked just outside the play area.
I follow him, hand over the money and watch as he rips it open.
His eyes widen as he takes those first licks of strawberry ice.
“Can I have some please?” I raise an eyebrow. I’ve already opened my mouth and closed it twice.
I stare back, then ask him again. My taste buds are being teased.
“I gave you two Hula Hoops, remember?” Son2 says impassively. “Just before we came out.” He puts a protective hand around his lolly, as though I might suddenly launch myself at it, and devours it in a sticky mess.
When he finishes, he hands me the wooden stick.
“Wh– What? NO WAY!” I give him an incredulous-Mom glare. “You didn’t give me any so you can put it in the bin yourself. Look–” I point at a rubbish bin. “Over there.”
“But I did all the hard work of eating it, so it’s your turn to do all the hard work of throwing it away.”
Postscript: He did throw it away himself, and has promised me one bite tomorrow.