Friday, May 8, 2009

A confession

I’m going to say something now that may shock, appall and disgust many of you. All I ask is that you have mercy on me, readers, and understand that save this one unspeakable flaw, I am a good mother.

I let my kids eat ice cream every day. That’s right, seven days a week. And I just announced that fact to the entire Park Slope Parents listserv. I expect a house call from Social Services any minute. There is no doubt that an intervention is in the works. Clemency, please. I mean no harm. I’m just a softy for Mr. Softie.

It all got started when a mom posted to the listserv yesterday asking if other parents let their kids have ice cream every day. Her kids are always begging for it, and she tries to settle on just 3 or 4 times a week, but it’s tough because they see everyone else lining up at the trucks.

I read the post and thought it might alleviate this mom’s guilt or sense of burden to hear that I, too, have been in this bind, and that I opted out of the battle and just said, yes, why the hell not, yes, ice cream every day is A-OK. I just wanted to help. So I quickly composed a message which read:

Now, I'm no paragon of nutritious mothering (we eat glutens and sodium and probably msg and my son is subsisting currently on a diet of hummus sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner). If you can settle with your kids on ice cream 3 times a week, I applaud you. For what it’s worth, I let the kids eat ice cream every day in the spring/summer, although my one condition is that they share a cone. Portion size saves the day! Half of a cone from the ice cream truck is really a pretty small amount of frozen delight, and I think it’s about as innocuous a treat as a kid can get, as long as they're not mainlining Juicy Juice and loading up on Doritos the rest of the day.

Oh, and I'm not why this makes a huge difference in my mind but they are NEVER allowed to get sprinkles (that's my nod to restraint).

After I hit send, I read the responses which had already been posted to the group and now I’m nervous folks. I’m fearing a backlash.

“Just because the truck is there, does not mean you have to get ice cream,” wrote one parent, “As your kids get older, they will see a lot of things on the streets of NYC that they want - Today it may be ice cream. When they are grown ups, it might be a drink!”

And that’s when I realized I might be drawn and quartered for public admitting that I am my kids’ soft serve pusherman.

“I didn’t realize that ice cream was the gateway drug,” David said.

“Apparently it is,” I replied, “The kids are sitting on the stoop with their waffle cones right now, but fast forward ten years and that waffle cone is a forty. A forty, I tell you!”

The poster went on to say that the only times her kids, both pre-teens, get ice cream is when she surprises them with it, every so often. If they ask for it, they sure as heck won’t be getting any.

I read her post to Primo. His eyes grew wide and panic flickered across his face.

“Is this in real life Mommy?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “Yes it is. So you see how lucky you are to have me as a mother?”

I never miss an opportunity to exploit the fears of my children.

Listen, the truth is, I applaud any mom who can implement this strategy. If you can manage it, you’ve got your act way more together than I do. If I had it my way, the kids would eat brown rice and kelp every day and have ice cream only on Christmas. If I had it my way, I’d have six-pack abs and a three-bedroom apartment. I don’t have it my way. In our house, this is how it breaks down:

Half an ice cream a day keeps Mommy’s nervous breakdown away.

I’m with these kids almost all the time and we struggle over so much that I just do not have it in me to fight about ice cream. It’s not arsenic, folks, not crack cocaine, its not even BPA.

I am appalled by so much out there and I don’t have any gall left over for ice cream.

So, write me up if you want. Bring me into the station. I’m not changing my story.