By now you all know that I’m a “recovering picky eater.” As a kid, I barely ate anything besides raw veggies and bread. Even with ice cream, which you think most kids love, I was particular about what flavors I liked. I was a vanilla girl through and through, although I also liked chocolate. Later on, I loved chocolate chip, but I didn’t like cookies and cream even though one would think those were similar. (It was a texture thing I think…I didn’t like Oreos either until well into high-school.) And somewhere around age ten I discovered chocolate-chip cookie dough and it was all over from then on out. It’s still one of my favorites.
One of my most vivid memories of my dad from when I was a kid centered around ice cream. I remember it clear as if it happened yesterday, although I was probably about five or six when this particular incident occurred. We were in the Braum’s in Ft. Worth, Texas where we lived at the time. I’m not sure why we were there (Braum’s was typically reserved as an after-a-special-occasion treat such as a violin recital or something) or where my mom was, but I was standing there in line hanging on to the silver metal railing that I loved to play on and my dad looked down at me and asked what I wanted to order. Normally, I would have had a scoop of vanilla. Or chocolate. Or chocolate chip. But on that particular day, I apparently was feeling a little daring. I’m pretty sure dad said, “You can order whatever you want” which opened the door for all sorts of possibilities I’d never previously considered.
At that age I had a certain fondness for the color pink. Hanging on the wall of the Braum’s franchise was a framed photo of a triple-decker-scoop strawberry ice cream cone. I’d admired its beautifully pink layers from afar many times while eating my burger and crinkle-cut french fries, or as I munched on my “safe” single-scoop-vanilla cup from one of the faux-wood-printed laminate table tops and orange molded bench chairs. But I’d never considered that that very ice cream cone could jump out of the confines of printed paper in a frame and into my hand for me to eat. Never, that is, until my dad uttered the word, “whatever.”
“I’d like that.” I said, pointing at the strawberry masterpiece. “That?” asked my dad. “Are you sure?” I was sure. Very sure. Three scoops of that pinky goodness in a cake-cone, please. I remember my dad uttering his signature chuckle…the one he uses when he thinks that something is not the best idea in the world but he also doesn’t see the point in arguing with it. He nodded to the clerk behind the ice cream vats and said that we’d like the ice cream cone in the photo. The clerk obliged and soon I was holding the gigantic treat in my own two little hands. It seemed like a dream come true. I admired it for a moment, and then took a big bite.
It wasn’t until the ice cream was actually in my mouth that I considered that there had to be a reason the ice cream was pink. There was a flavor behind that pink hue. A flavor that unfortunately, I did not like. I did not like one bit. Sure I loved REAL strawberries. But ice cream that was supposed to taste like strawberries just wasn’t cutting it. I felt my eyes get hot. There I stood in front of the cash register clutching the biggest ice cream cone I’d ever seen…and I didn’t like it.
I’m not a parent, so I can’t say I know this from experience, but I’d wager to say that there are a few moments in life where you can really make it or break if for your kid. I don’t know what I did or didn’t outwardly express in that moment (if I froze, or if I cried) because all I can remember is the swirling, internal, child-like distress of not knowing what to do next. But whatever feelings I did or didn’t show, Dad totally saved the day in that moment. He turned to the clerk and smiled and said, “And I think we’ll need a single scoop of vanilla in a cup.” Then he gently took the cone away, and ate the entire reject himself while I noshed on my replacement, plain-jane sweet.
This past Saturday night, my husband and I were coming home from picking a few things up at the store and I made the comment that I was craving some ice-cream. There is a new Jeni’s Splended Ice Cream Scoop Shop in our neighborhood and so we decided to give it a try. As “grown-up Bethany” studied the menu I had to laugh at all the flavors I was considering; black coffee, Cinderella’s pumpkin, sweet potato and toasted marshmallow. Nothing boring about any of those. And then one caught my eye that I had to have: Raspberries and Sweet Corn. In ice cream? you ask. Yes. And it was the most delicious flavor I have ever tasted. I ordered a “Trio,” three perfectly sized scoops garnished with a waffle cone triangle crisp. Along with the raspberries and sweet corn scoop, I chose Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam and Brambleberry Crisp. Sadly, it did not occur to me to take photo of my treat, but it looked something like this photo that I found on the interwebs.
So next time you’re in the neighborhood (or anywhere there is a Jeni’s shop) be sure to check out the rainbow of flavors available. And if your kid chooses something crazy…just go with it. There might be a memory in the making.