Last week we braved Stew Leonard’s for groceries. If you don’t live in CT, Stew’s is the “largest dairy store in the world” and features singing farm animals, flipping monkeys, freshly packaged milk, the Chiquita banana lady, an insane progression with your cart down one winding aisle (turn against the tide at your peril), and, oh, a free ice cream cone if you spend $100 or more. We stopped in for fruit and checked out with an overloaded cart, one harried Mom and a final tallly of $167.
Since we’d already been to the beach prior to our Stew’s adventure, Mommy was pushing for quick ice cream cones so we didn’t totally screw with Daughter’s early afternoon nap. Oh, did I mention we ate hamburgers and hot dogs at the hoedown farm tables right outside the store?
“Sprinkles! I want sprinkles!” they cried in front of the ice cream counter.
“Okay, okay.” Just this time. Kids carrying soft serve on cones, Mom pushing grocery cart stuffed with my laughable assortment of green bags (two insulated bags from Trader Joes, one super large carryall from Bed Bath and Beyond, a standard green grocery bag from local Carluzzi’s grocery store and my new envirosax, which fits in my purse!), and twelve year old Niece tagging along for the ride.
We sat on the bench outside the real farm animals to eat our cones, tired kids begging the patience of Mom to hold out on heading home.
“Stay here with Madeleine (Niece) while I load the groceries in the car.”
As I stuff bags into the minivan trunk, I see a friend with twin four year olds zipping off, the two kids nicely sitting in their carseats licking away. Yes, her kids are older, but couldn’t we just get going too? Mmmmm, that’s risky, two year old Daughter can barely lick through a cone before it drenches clothes, hands, chin, neck and surroundings with sticky drippings.
What the heck! Throwing caution to the wind, I hustle Son (still licking), Daughter (holding, sometimes licking) and Niece (making real headway) into the car.
Now, the danger starts. Mom maneuvers multiple traffic lights while coaching Daughter and Son how to neatly finish ice cream cones in car. Losing battle. Coaching is generous, militant screaming more like it.
“Wait! Use your napkin! Don’t bite the bottom! It’s dripping! It’s dripping!”Pull over. Grab wipes, clean Son. Grab Daughter’s ice cream cone, top and bottom dripping mercilessly. Chuck it out the window.
Oh, no. The tragedy, the tears. What kind of mother am I to terrorize my daughter over an ice cream cone? I walk around the car, gently pick it up from the grass, wipe off any stray clippings and hand it back to her.
After all, soap and water can easily clean my car, little fingers and chins. But they can’t wash away hurt feelings. Those sometimes take patience and practicality to prevent. What was I thinking???