Ice cream is a good thing. I know you agree. I know my friend Paula agrees. But what about ice cream at 10 pm? With your kids?
Well, when a family tradition is at stake, it’s the only thing. And, as my husband often points out, it’s just another example of our parenting buffoonery.
This tradition started in 2003: My husband looked fatherhood in the eye and brought home a sleek Lexus hard-top convertible when our firstborn was just weeks old. He was late getting home from work (and, thus, late for his turn to do headstands in order to help ease the colic), because he was tied up in the purchase of this car. So fired up was he about having a sports car to share with his boy, he paid no never-mind to the fact that the boy would have no concept of this vehicle until long after it was gone. How did I know it would be long-gone? Because, in our house, there is no such thing as a forever car. We don’t drive anything into the ground. (Jeff fell in love with his first Jeep Wrangler about five years ago—and he’s traded in twice for new Jeep Wranglers.) Anyway, he was fired-up. I was too—because the purchase of the car had bled past the regular workday schedule, and he’d been an hour and fifteen minutes late coming home. Which means he was an hour and fifteen minutes late for his turn to soothe the colicky baby. For those of you keeping count, 90 minutes in colic terms is about eleventy-billion minutes.
He’d called ahead to warn me—sort of. “I’m picking up dinner on the way home,” he said. “Oh, and a new car. Bye!”
He actually has a “new car voice,” and it contains the kind of undeniable, unmitigated joy that I can’t begrudge. Even though, truly, it’s just a car.
And into the driveway came the zippy sports coupe. Which, I had to admit, looked pretty slick. And also a lot like a man in denial that he was a card-caryying, child-rearing GROWNUP. Potato, po-tah-toe.
Promptly, he scooped up our son, loaded him into the car seat, and then proceeded to place it in the back seat of the vehicle. Carefully, safely. It’s lucky I’m short, or I would have been voted off the island. My front passenger seat had to be slid nearly all the way forward in order to accommodate the “baby bucket.” And, off we zoomed. Mom, dad, baby—out for celebratory ice cream cones.
Since then, there have been a constant stream of new cars—we’ve often leased, and we hardly ever finish a lease. There’s always a valid reason, but it usually comes down to this: Jeff’s a car guy. We like shiny new objects. Often, we joke that we didn’t want to get it washed, so we traded it in. I don’t think that’s too far from the truth. And, each and every time, there’s a celebratory drive that involves ice cream. We also do this when the kids graduate to a new type of car-seat (front facing, booster, backless booster…and someday, if we ever get Lance to eat enough, NO BOOSTER.). So when we got the new car last Saturday, and the transaction bled past dinner time, past bedtime, past the time any sane person would take their children out for ice cream, what did we do??? Yep. Cold Stone Creamery.
Parenting buffoonery. I think my friend Ellen, who lauded us on Babble.com…(for our, ahem, heroic parenting) might agree that this opens up a whole new category of Parenting Mistakes. What’s your favorite example of parenting buffoonery?!