Although this story doesn’t belong to me…I will write it since no one else has…
The other night, Todd and I sat around Kacy and Christian’s kitchen counter, as we often do. We live just around the block, you see. When their kids go to bed, they give us the signal (one ring) and we join them at our usual spot.
Occasionally, we watch a movie or something, but mostly, we just sit and talk. Often, our getting together involves some sort of treat or goody. The other night, it involved New York Creams and cold pork ribs.
Imagine if you will, four adults, a few gallons of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, malted milk, club soda, and pork ribs… It was decadence. It was over the top, heavenly, indulgent eating at 11:00pm at night. You know you have hit a certain level of friendship when there is no embarrassment at how many ribs you can down (for the second time that day) or by the chocolate to ice cream ratio in your shake.
Christian and Kacy are a dream come true…there is no judgment, and always good leftovers.
But, as young children are wont to do…their kids’ heads appeared over the banister…lured by the melodies on iTunes, the peals of party-like laughter, and the unmistakable scent of ice cream. Yes…if you are a child…you can detect the aroma of frozen confections…you lose this ability at puberty…
Now a disclaimer: Kacy and Christian are really good parents. For reals…they do stuff together…quality stuff…they have good techniques…etc. But what comes next is not so much a comment on their parenting, but an epiphany on why we remember what we do from childhood.
So the kids came down on the pretense that they were “hungry.” Oh, foolish children…we know your bellies are not empty… And they enter the kitchen to find grown-ups making shakes and eating ribs. But as everyone knows, shakes and ribs, while fine between the hours of 12pm and 8pm, turn into child-poison soon after 8:15pm. Their only option, the only SAFE option, was to be offered a glass of milk and a roll.
Their first-born son’s eyes were large as he eyed the ice cream and the chocolate while his drink was poured, and in the meekest voice Charles Dickens could have imagined, he asked, pointing to a spill of cream and chocolate, “Can I lick that off the counter?” To which the magnanimous answer was, “Of course, you may…” How could such delights NOT be shared, poison or no poison? And then he was whisked off to bed…
To be sure, their son will not remember all the vacations…all the father/son camp outs, he will sit in his therapist’s dimly lit office and say, “…they had ribs…they had ice cream…and they gave me a roll…THEY GAVE ME A ROLL! And made me lick the counter…”
You know, we do the best we can. Some injustices cannot be avoided. Childhood is not fair. You have to put in your time…pay your dues…puberty sucks…and then college is a disappointment. But then, you get to be an adult…you arrive at the point when you can do whatever you want… We were just giving that kid something to look forward to…something to aspire to. Because if nothing else, being able to eat ribs and ice cream at 11pm at night is really something to live for.