You know spring has arrived when the ice cream truck begins making its rounds. One made its first appearance of the year in our neighborhood last Saturday. We let it pass our house without stopping but several of our neighbors flagged the driver down to purchase his sugary confections. Apparently, the warm, sunny day brought ice cream trucks out in full force across our community. Our pastor noticed one in his neighborhood and made mention of it in his Sunday sermon.
The coming of the ice cream truck stirs excitement in the hearts of children and adults alike. We hear the truck long before we see it. The familiar music wafts through the air, and we run outside to see if the truck is headed towards us or if it is passing us by. When I was a kid, we used to send one sibling outside to signal the driver to stop while the rest of us looked for change with which to make our purchases. It didn’t matter that our freezer was always stocked with ice cream and probably a couple of boxes of frozen treats. The coming of the ice cream man was an event no one wanted to miss.
We introduced our oldest son to the ice cream truck the summer he turned two. Chris was a bit scared by the loud music, but he was thrilled with the treat the ice cream man gave him. We probably only made a couple of purchases from the ice cream truck that summer and fall, but it was enough to make an impression on our son. At that time we lived in north central Florida where the ice cream season is quite long. Yet, at least four or five months passed between the ice cream truck’s last appearance in the fall and its re-emergence in the spring.
I’ll never forgot the day in early March when we heard the sounds of the ice cream truck coming down the street. Chris knew exactly what the music signaled, and he was determined to buy ice cream. The twins were nearly a year old. I had just settled them into their high chairs and given them teething biscuits to chew on. This was the first time I had put them in their chairs without another adult being present. I explained to Chris that we would not be able to buy ice cream this time, as I couldn’t leave the babies alone while I looked for money and went outside. Chris seemed to understand and ran off to play in his room. Or so I thought.
A strange noise coming from his room alerted me that all was not as it should be. I ran down the hall in time to see him escape out his bedroom window. Fortunately, the window was very low to the ground. I ran back down the hall to the kitchen to check on the babies before dashing out the front door to find my two-year old chasing after the ice cream truck. I caught him in the next door neighbor’s yard and carried him home as he kicked and cried. All the while I was praying that nothing bad had happened to the twins. I found them just as I had left them, happily chewing on their cookies and making as big a mess as possible.
As the lure of the ice cream man was more than my two-year old could resist and I didn’t want a repeat of the day’s events, I developed strategies to cope with the ice cream truck. I tried to learn the ice cream man’s routine and timed errands to coincide with his visits to our neighborhood. For those times when we would be home, I kept a bowl of change by the front door to simplify the ice cream buying process. If the twins were awake, I would put them in the playpen while I went out with Chris to buy ice cream. On the occasions when they were in their high chairs, I positioned myself at the front door where I could keep one eye on the twins in the kitchen and the other on Chris as he ordered a “fudgy cicle” or whatever treat he wanted that day. The ice cream man usually managed to decipher Chris’ order, but on occasion I had to yell it out from my post at the front door.
We managed to get through the summer with no more escapes out the bedroom window. By the next summer, all three little boys anxiously watched for the ice cream truck out the front window as they stood on the back of the couch. They would climb down and run to the front door as soon as they heard its familiar music. The bowl of change was always close at hand. Those are memories I will cherish all my life.
What are your favorite memories of chasing the ice cream truck?