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Our yearly ice cream date

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

More than just one-on-one time

Our small town is graced with two very yummy ice cream shops. Both close down in winter and their openings in the spring for the new season are awaited with great anticipation. We drive by regularly beginning in mid-April, looking for the tell-tale signs of life in the windows and, eventually, the sign announcing the first day of the town's seasonal ice cream worship. We do love our ice cream around here.

More than just one-on-one time
Opening day at our favorite of the two ice cream shops is a special day for Woody and me. Every year Woody and I go out for ice cream on opening day, just the two of us. It is an event marked on the calendar and planned for with great care. I make sure that, no matter what, he and I make it out for our little date.

Like Woody and me, Alfs and I have our own ritual, though it is not quite annual. Alfs and I always go see the Harry Potter movies on opening weekend. Just the two of us. I don't quite remember how that tradition started. It just happened, really, but however it did, it is also an event marked on the calendar and planned for with great care.

Making it a special event

These times are more than just one-on-one or "special" time. I try to find solo moments with the kids on a regular basis, even if it's "just" Alfs coming with me to the grocery store or Woody helping me at the grill for dinner. Sunshine already gets a fair bit of one-on-one time on our "me and you" days, so I don't have to find those moments yet, but I will one day. These movie and ice cream dates are more than that. They are true special events. They are those things that I am pretty sure they are going to remember into adulthood.

Alfs and Woody's special events each developed on their own. They were not planned by me or us; they evolved after chance events. It think it just happened that Alfs and I saw the first Harry Potter movie by ourselves, and it just happened that we saw the next one by ourselves. It was only for the third movie that we made the conscious decision that this would be our thing. Similarly, it just happened that Woody and I went to the ice cream shop opening day alone a couple of years ago and on our way home he asked if we could do that, just the two of us, every year. I didn't have to think about it. Yeah, we could, I said.

A natural evolution

I love that these events have evolved rather naturally, and that they are purely for fun and togetherness. Woody and Alfs express only minor jealousy over one another's events; they know they get their own time so they more easily let the other's time happen.

I don't know what Sunshine's special event will be. As with the boys, it will have to evolve and happen, almost before we realize it's happening. In the meantime, she doesn't quite understand about the boys' special events, so we make it happen kind of under her radar. She'll understand one day.

At the ice cream shop the other night, Woody and I sat and enjoyed our ice creams and talked about so many things and nothing much at all. When our cups were empty, we went to the back of the line and ordered three more ice creams to go: one each for Alfs, Sunshine, and Dad. Our special events can be shared...just a little.

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