Monday, August 29, 2011

Six Year-Old Initiative: The Story of the Ice Cream Cone



by Pete Codella (bio)

It was a hot summer Saturday afternoon. I was working on some home improvement projects with my dad while my mom was tending to the needs of my nine and six year-olds. My parents were visiting for the week and my wife was at work, getting ready for the new school year.

My daughter, our first-born, asked me if she could go with the neighbor girl to get an ice cream cone at the nearby Arctic Circle. I said sure, as long as she used her own money.

Next thing I knew my son was carrying on like it was the end of the world. He wasn’t invited to go and that wasn’t fair. He wanted an ice cream! It didn’t matter that we had ice cream in the freezer. He wanted an ice cream cone from Arctic Circle just like his sister was going to get.

I returned to my project leaving my son to throw his little fit.

My daughter went with her friend whose mother was waiting to drive them to get their tasty treat.

A few minutes later my mom came upstairs to report that my son had taken the Ziploc bag of money earned from his summer lemonade stand work, slipped on his flip-flops, burst out the front door and started running down the street. She thought he was going to the neighbor's to crash the ice cream trip party, but he just kept running down the street and wouldn’t stop or come back home when my mom called for his return.

So, I stopped what I was doing, got my keys, and began driving the half-mile route I figured he’d take on foot to get to Arctic Circle. I didn’t see him anywhere. I was beginning to worry.

I parked at the restaurant and went inside. As soon as I looked at the counter, there was the girl behind the counter handing my son a huge vanilla-chocolate swirl ice cream cone. He still had his gallon Ziploc bag clutched in one hand and was now holding the ice cream cone in the other with a big smile on his face.

His cheeks were bright red from running all the way to the restaurant.

While I was concerned about his safety, part of me was impressed with his resourcefulness, even if he had disobeyed his grandma. So, we had a nice talk at Arctic Circle while he ate his ice cream as I tried to explain the implications of the situation.

When we got back home he got another talking-to from my mom, and later, from his mom.

My sister-in-law said she would have thrown the ice cream in the trash at the restaurant, grabbed him and put him in his room for the afternoon.

Maybe I was too lenient. Maybe not.

What would you have done? Have you had similar parenting situations?

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