Well, at least I’m getting a little run in.
This is my thought as I run out my door in crocs, sweatpants, and a t-shirt with my 5-year-old racing toward the street.
Let’s back up.
I recently saw a Tik-Tok. Yes, I’m thirty-six and on Tik-Tok.
To be clear, I watch Tik-Toks. I do not create them. I’m not sure that makes it better, but there you go.
Anyway, this Tik-Tok is from a dad’s perspective. He had just finished putting his child to bed. Relieved and recovering from the frustration of his day, he flops onto his couch where he sees his child’s jacket. You then see the pang on his face. A feeling that I’m sure is familiar to parents with toddlers.
That instant yearning for your child. The fights, frustrations, and tears melt away leaving nothing but the overpowering and all-consuming love.
Captions on the screen read “Could I have been more patient?”, “Could I have played with them more?”, etc.
Once again, these are thoughts that run through all parents’ heads often, if not daily. I am constantly battling thoughts like this.
This past Sunday, while I was preparing food for my wife for Mothers Day, my wife yelled my name from upstairs.
My heart sinks because, typically, when she yells my name it means something bad has happened. She comes downstairs quickly asking if I have money.
“What is going on?” I said.
She looks out the front door and says “I heard the i-c-e c-r-e…”
It’s amazing when you start having to spell everything out in front of your kids, how fast you can pick up on what is being communicated. It’s also amazing how sometimes you forget how to spell even the most basic words.
During the summer months, the ice cream truck comes through our neighborhood almost every Sunday. The sun was out and the temperature was in the low 60’s which qualifies as summer in Minnesota.
As my wife spelled out “ice cream truck”, I have a moment to decide what to do. I was busy in the kitchen, my daughter needs a nap, I’m wearing sweatpants, and I haven’t showered.
Normally, I wouldn’t care about that last one, but I am trying out this long hair thing and I don’t really know how to manage it all. It tends to look like I recently got struck by lightning. Not just moments ago, but maybe a few hours ago.
Point is, it would have been easy to just let it go by and give my kids ice cream from our freezer. However, the ice cream truck might be my 5-year-old’s favorite thing in the world. So I look out the front door, hear the familiar music, and see the truck slowly driving away from my house and decide…
We are catching that fucking truck.
I yell, “Jude! ICE CREAM TRUCK! I’ll go get money!”
Just the look on his face as he processes this information is enough to let me know that I’ve made the right decision.
I sprint up the stairs to my bedroom, grab a $20 from my jeans pocket, run back down, slip on my crocs, and follow my barefoot son out the door in a dead sprint.
When I say sprint, think light jog for a normal human that is in decent shape.
As we run across the street and get on the sidewalk making our way toward the truck that is 2 blocks ahead, I notice a couple of neighbor kids in their yard pointing in the direction of the truck and yelling for their parents. Then I see their shoulders slump as they had clearly gotten the “it’s too late” answer from their parents.
As we were about a block away, I realize that I have a giant smile on my face. I can’t help it.
We continue after the truck, which has stopped for a couple of kids and their mom.
We are going to catch it.
I see the change passed back to the mom and the truck starts to drive away.
I make eye contact with the mom as she turns. She sees the desperation in my eyes and she yells for the truck to stop.
We make it to the window. Out of breath, I ask my son what he wants.
He points to a Batman ice cream and then, because he is an amazing big brother, asks “can we get some for Clementine?”
“Of course!” I said. And we pick an ice cream we think she’ll like.
My son asks, “why aren’t you getting anything?”
“I don’t want any, but I wanted you to have a treat.”
“You’re the best daddy,” he said.
And, there it is. If I make nothing but terrible decisions for the rest of 2021, I could still hang my hat on the decision to chase the ice cream truck and call it a win.
You may be rolling your eyes and thinking, oh, so this was just an attempt to brag about being a good dad?
I do my best to be a good dad, but there are more times that I feel inadequate than great. What’s more, I don’t judge my neighbors for not chasing the ice cream truck because I have no clue what they were going through that day. They may have just gotten back from Dairy Queen for all I know.
The point is it was simple. It made me feel like a kid. It made my kids unbelievably happy.
There are so many frustrations in life (especially over this past year) and in raising kids. It’s easy from moment to moment, to forget that the days are long and the years are short.
So whether you have young kids, grown kids, or no kids at all…
Get out there and chase that ice cream truck.