Ice Cream Sandwich

During Daniel’s 26th-month of age, we spent our days at the beach. While other mothers seemed to lead a carefree, charmed life, casually reclining on colorfully-themed beach towels, having what appeared to be quiet, lovely conversations with their small children, I seemed to be spending the majority of my time snatching Daniel from three sources he was determined to master – waves, ducks and other children’s toys.

One particularly hot day, Daniel would have nothing to do with his own pile of sand toys, hauled in two beach bags by Mom-power, along with chairs, blankets, cooler and towels. Instead, another child’s red shovel, two sand castles closer to the water’s edge beckoned him.

No matter how animated I was, showing him his toys were The Most Fun, he struggled to free himself from my grip. Pulling, straining, tugging and babbling incoherently, “ba ba ba ga ga ga ga ma ma ma that that that”, occasionally kicking (me), he spent a full hour determined that the Red Shovel object of his fixation would be his, no matter my burning shoulder muscles or my sinking heart.

Why not leave? My daughter, then 6, was having the time of her life with swimming lessons and playing with friends. I would walk over burning coals to let her have “normal”, a state of life greatly reduced since adopting Daniel.

The lovely and tempting resources of my cooler, icy-cold grapes and juicy slices of watermelon, failed to put a dent in his glassy Red Shovel eye-lock.

Drastic measures were required. Deprogramming came to mind. I knew of only one thing that could set him free.

I pulled him into my lap, firmly gripping his angry-purple face, turning it toward mine. Breaking my own moral code regarding highly processed foods containing trans-fats, diabetes-inducing corn and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as chemical additives too numerous to mention, I grimaced and spoke the words out loud: “Ice Cream Sandwich”.

Turning a deaf ear towards me, he strained and twisted to glimpse The Red Shovel somewhere over his shoulder.

“Ice Cream Sandwich”, I repeated, turning his face back towards mine. Recognition, for a brief split second, graced his eyes.

He struggled at half the original power while I seductively repeated, “Ice Cream Sandwich”.

He glared, for the first time making eye contact, puckering quivering lips suspiciously asking, “what”. No sing-song upward tone requiring a question-mark, but instead, a flat, dead, monotone “what”.

It was a word in the King’s English and not his typical babble. For that, I gave thanks to the Lord. “Do you want an ice cream sandwich”, I asked. “Yes”, he sighed, his entire body quivered, relaxing under my grip.

Wow. “What” and “yes” – two words used within seconds of each other. Progress.

Hand-in-hand we purchased our snack. Side-by-side, we sat on our beach towel, companionably licking drips of melting ice cream. I found myself memorizing every moment of “normal”, enjoying the sensation of being, for the first time that day, just another Mom spending an afternoon at the beach with her children.

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