The Damn Ice Cream Truck



Every time we take our daughter somewhere special I am reminded that I clearly don’t know the meaning of the word special. If we’re at the bakery getting cookies it’s “What’s for dessert?” If I let her watch a little TV it’s “can we get a movie?” If I remember to pick her up from school its “did you bring me a snack?”


And nowhere is this more evident than the playground. I will admit, the playground is not my favorite place. I’d rather be in front of my computer absorbing 1000s of images from Pinterest that will ultimately make me feel like the laziest woman alive. We go to the playground for her! There are swings, monkey bars, slides and sand galore! I’ll even get up one or two times to get water for wet sand, I’m just that kind of giving mother. But obviously all my effort is for not because the moment we hear that dreaded sound I’m brought right back to reality.

The damn ice cream truck is here.

We could be having a fairy princess party with dress up and actual live fairies flying all around, but if I don’t get her an ice cream the moment that truck (actually pretty creepy van) pulls up, then I am akin to the man who shot Big Bird.

And this is universal. The ice cream truck song is like a super hero beacon being shot into the night sky. No matter where the kids are – stomping in a forbidden mud puddle or king of the hill. What they’re doing – heading to China or stuffing sand in their brother’s diaper. How grown up they are – reading Wimpy Kid diaries on the bench behind you or using their paci to dig for cigarette buts. When the sweetly sickening twinkling sound of the ice cream truck permeates the playground sound scape, children drop everything and bee-line straight for their parents.

“Can I have money?”

“Can I have a Shrek pop?”

“Remember that I didn’t have fit at bath time last night so I get one, right?”

“Joany’s getting one!” (Damn Joany’s mom and her complete lack of parent solidarity.)

The playground is no longer a place of innocent fun and youthful experimentation. It might as well be a 56th story conference room towering over a metal skyline filled with the world’s toughest negotiators. Gap kids ensembles have turned into tiny people business suits. Their pails now briefcases filled with evidence to support their claims. Dirt rimmed mouths (that were clean when you got there so what the hell?) spewing argument after argument as to why they should have – NAY, have EARNED an ice cream.

There is a lone swing still rocking slightly from the child that once occupied it and claimed a turn for “infinity.”

I’ve tried all the tactics:

1. “I didn’t bring any money” “So get some from Billy’s mom. Here, I’ll ask her for you.”

2. “I brought watermelon instead for you! You love watermelon!” Barf noises, “Mom, watermelon is the most disgusting food ever. Don’t say watermelon to me ever again.”

3. “Okay.” “YAY! You’re the best mom ever!” followed by 20 minutes at the ice cream truck deciding what to get. Another 20 minutes crying that Joany got a better ice cream and that’s what she really wanted. Followed by 20 minutes of negotiating where the ice cream can be eaten (immediately followed by 20 minutes of crying after it’s fallen into the sand even though there had been an agreement about eating it on the bench). And the final 20 minutes of total sugar-induced mania and psychotic breakdown from withdrawal.

There is no good answer to the Good Humor construct. I’m frankly surprised that there hasn’t been a nation-wide parental petition to stop the arrival of ice cream trucks at playgrounds. We can get soda, sun tan lotion, and even the utterance of the word “nut” removed from school but we can’t do anything about the diabetes laden sugar tube our children are helpless to resist at playgrounds?

I blame the Good Humor deep pockets. I’ve seen the kind of money these people pull in and I have no doubt they are lining the pockets of state capital politicians and Washington lobbyists. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m contacted by some secret organization of the frozen sugar brotherhood after this post and threatened until I take it down.

So what I’m proposing instead is a “If you can’t beat them, join them” solution.

Behind every ice cream truck along the curb outside our playground fences we should now demand a bona fide sweet and delicious and oh so caffeinated coffee truck! As it arrives on the scene it will belt out a steel guitar version of “Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. Its side will be plastered with pictures of caffeinated beverages named after our heroes – The Ross and Rachel latte double whip, The Michael Jordan drip with extra shot, The Bill Clinton – it just has extra foam ;-)

And upon its arrival children will be abandoned to pump for themselves. They’ll be left hanging in the middle of the treacherous rings. They’ll have to figure out on their own whose turn it is to have the pink shovel and yellow bucket and who will be forced to put up with the purple shovel and far inferior green bucket. Because we will be spending $5 a pop on our afternoon treat!

Sure we’ll neglect our children a little while we decide what delicious and life-affirming drink we’ll get and socialize as though it’s Seattle in the 90s. Yes, there’s a chance we’ll spill it in the sand making the playground that much nastier and attracting twice the number on already colonized pinworms. And so be it if our caffeine buzz gives way to an even nastier crash than our own kid’s sugar collapse. We’ve earned this – remember we didn’t throw a fit when we didn’t get our own bath time last night?!

Viva la Caffeine-Express!


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  1. 1

    Lynn Kellan says

    Brilliant! Better yet, if the coffee truck is late, let’s eat coffee ice cream. With fudge sauce. And sprinkles. Because every day deserves a celebration/sugar crash.

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  2. 3

    Mom Off Meth says

    I just posted this on Facebook last week.

    It’s September, and I’m broke. Enough with the drive-bys, Mr. Ice-Cream Truck guy.

    It NEVER fails. We are in a hurry, we haven’t eaten dinner, the kids have misbehaved and BOOM, there he is with his happy song, sitting in front of my house.

    There never is a good answer. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. 4

    Kristin says

    I had never though about it before, but really? Why do they drive around in the creepy vans? Isn’t that the kind of thing we are always telling the kids to stay away from? “Oh but mom! ICE CREAM!!!!” Worst. Idea. Ever!

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  4. 6

    Suzanne @ Fit Minded Mom says

    You should see the cow patterned truck that comes through our neighborhood. Damn thing!! I kid you not, there was a day where my kids were running barefoot(with no$) around the neighborhood(they NEVER run) trying to figure out which street the ice cream truck was on so they could get their “crack”. Of course, that meant I was running after them looking just as crazy….. all over a cow truck. Ugh!!

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  5. 12

    Stephanie says

    So funny!! I am totally planning to ignore the ice cream truck completely, but if for some reason I can’t get away with that, I’ll take a double Iced Alanis with skim milk and two raw sugars.

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  6. 23

    Terese Lavallee says

    For several years, I had my daughter convinced that scary monsters drove ice cream trucks and were looking for kids to gobble up if they ran to the window for a treat. She would hear the music, scream, and hide until it drove away. I thought I was a freakin’ genius while it lasted.
    I LOVE the coffee truck idea. Also, I second Kim’s wine suggestion! (Wonderful post – thank you for the laugh!)

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  7. 25

    Jenn says

    I overheard my neighbor tell her daughter that they are out of ice cream when they play the music. I liked it and I passed that on to my kids who didn’t know any different. Some relatives have looked at me strangely when the kids say “oooh ice cream!” and I remind them they are out of ice cream if the music is playing. I am proud to say my kids are 9 & 5 and I’ve never purchased ice cream from the creepy van :-)

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  8. 28

    jenn lo says

    The first time my son ever heard that music, four years ago, and asked what it was my friend told him, “its the broccoli truck” as a joke. He bought it! So I’ve never had to deal with this nightmare.

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  9. 30

    Beth says

    No joke – in Australia (where my husband is from and we visited last year with the kids) there are coffee trucks that go to the playgrounds. I was fascinated! He would have the latest machines out the back of the truck and all the moms would line up. I want the money to start a franchise here! :)

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  10. 34

    Angela says

    I’m gonna say it – It’s your fault. You should never have even allowed your child to have ice cream (or any other snack from the truck). My oldest didnt even know what was on the truck until he was 10 and his 6 year old brother told him. (We called it the ice cream truck but I guess he didnt catch on..) My husband and I never purchased from the truck cause ice cream was so ridiculously priced! I can get 2 1/2 gallons for the price of one cone with sprinkles! Well, cant stop the vicious circle now but I do like the irony of the Coffee Truck. Please dont hate me…

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  11. 38

    Jen says

    My kids know I passionately hate the ice cream truck and all it stands for. I train them from an early age to know that we don’t buy from the ice cream man because he’s probably a drug dealer (every time we drive by the prison, I say, “Don’t do drugs unless you want to live there.”) and because like all things telemarketers, door to door sales, home parties, etc, my mantra is, “If I want your product, I will seek it out. I don’t need to to inform me that I need/want it.”

    I also let my neighbors know I’m not impressed that they cave and give their kids money, because the stupid ice cream truck keeps coming back.

    Anddd….I tell them they can buy ice cream with their own money, and I will drive them to the store where they can get an entire box or two of ice cream novelties for the price of a single treat from the truck.

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  12. 39

    D. Wenz says

    I’ve told my kids that the ice cream man only plays music when he’s out of ice cream. If we’re at the park its because the dentist paid him to give them cavities and vagaries equals drills and pain.

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