Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I was in one of those ice cream places the other day.

You know the kind.  It has 500 different kinds of ice cream, and 4,000 different combinations of toppings.  It also has yogurt and candy and Christmas presents.  Soon they’ll be offering a selection of small, foreign cars.  How handy.

The moment I walked in, I knew I was in trouble.  In line in front of me was a little kid, about 4 years old, and his mother.  She was leaning down next to him, slowly reading each of the 4,500 possible ice cream combinations from the huge sign behind the counter.

“So which ice cream do you think you want, Sweetie?  Black bean?  Black bean and cherry?  Black bean chocolate cherry bark chips?  Black bean cherry bark chipmunk chip choo choo train razzmatazz tootie fruitie?  Or...oh wait.  You hate black bean, don’t you?”

I was doomed, the mother was frazzled and the kid was on the edge of a mental breakdown.

He had no idea what this woman was talking about.  How could he?  None of us did.  She thought she was being nice, and a good mother, letting him make his own choices.  I get it.  But it was more than he could handle. 

I couldn’t help but remember how my Father used to deal with me in similar situations.  He too wanted to help me make my own choices, but instead of reading me an entire menu, and watching my little, fat head explode, my Father’s technique was slightly modified.  It went more like this:

DAD: “OK, son, do you want vanilla ice cream or nothin’?”

ME: “Ummm...vanilla!”

DAD: “Great.  Now, would you like a hamburger, or nothin’?”

ME” Um...hamburger!”

DAD: “Another fabulous choice, son.  Now, would you like milk or nothin’?”

ME: “I think I’ll take...nothin’!  No, wait!  Um...ah....Milk!”

It was a terribly effective system.  I got to make my own choices, my father got to not be driven crazy, and people in line behind us were able to continue on with their lives.

I’m convinced the LACK of choices my father often gave me was one of the reasons my life was so good. 

DAD: “Do you want a spankin’ or nothing?”

I didn’t figure THAT one out until I was 13.

Thanks Dad -

As together we stand and sing.