I can’t imagine that job security is tight if you are an ice cream truck driver. The work is seasonal where I live in New England, and if the music doesn’t drive you bonkers, a lack of good neighborhoods to prey on will drive you out of business. And I don’t want to make any assumptions, but I can’t imagine that being called “Mr. Ding-A-Ling” does much for the ego.
My summer death stares aren’t helping either, and I don’t even care. When I hear that awful twangy, amplified music from several streets over, I cringe. And as if it’s not already nails-on-chalkboard annoying, after the oversized music box plays It’s A Small World After All or Turkey In The Straw, which is also the tune of a racist song written by Harry C. Browne in 1916, a stupid, clown-like voices shouts, “Hello!” To which I respond, “Fuck you!” I then wait for the sound to get closer and wonder if my children will hear it, and for a brief moment it’s like we are the Griswolds and the extended family just rang the doorbell upon arriving for their Christmas vacation stay. We all hear it, but no one moves for a minute until everyone is sure. I’m sure that I hate Mr. Ding-A-Ling just as much as my kids love him.
Maybe I’m mad that the guy isn’t selling tacos or maybe I’m just a buzzkill, but I am all set with the ice cream truck rolling through the neighborhood every other night. I know, I know. The pandemic has created a loss of resources as well as opportunity, and this ice cream peddler is just trying to take advantage of folks being home all of the damn time. However, I am mourning last year’s version of Mr. Ding-A-Ling who came on a schedule and rolled through the neighborhood on Thursday afternoons. Once a week was manageable, in both cost and the ability to avoid him with screen time or a trip to the park.
But this new guy is persistent. He drives through the neighborhood several times a week, and sometimes multiple times a day. My kids know they are not able to get a treat each time Ding-A-Ling drives by, but there is still fussing and crying, bargaining and whining. I don’t have the energy to listen to it or offer condolences to my children (who are far from deprived). I don’t have the energy to explain why it’s cheaper to get a box of Bomb Pops at the store, or speculate why Mr. Ding-A-Ling wears a bathing suit while driving. Just stop coming around, man.
Speaking of bathing suits and futile situations, I hate water balloons too. I hate all balloons, actually. Feel free to call me a bitter old hag. I don’t care. I have plenty of love in my heart and my kids experience an abundance of joy. But one place they aren’t getting it is from water- or air-filled rubber bags. I don’t care how much my kids love water balloons, they’re wasteful and a fucking mess to clean up when done. I am already nagging my kids to clean up their toys or put their bikes inside of the garage and not at the threshold so that the door doesn’t close. The idea of spending thrice as long to pick up broken balloons from the yard as it did to play with them is not worth it. Picking tiny bits of rubber out of blades of grass and then worrying if I missed the piece that could end up being the death of a wild animal is not how I want to spend my summers. I will throw buckets of water on my children, but not balloons.
And as much as I want my kids to be outside, they don’t seem to stay out for more than 19 seconds at a time. The good news is that they go back out, but not without slamming doors, or leaving them wide open so that the dog slinks out, or any cool air I have accumulated with the window air conditioning unit goes away too. You would think that as often as I yell at them to close the goddamn door, they would remember to close the goddamn gates to the backyard too. Nope.
They act like leaving a trail of flip flops will allow the dog to find his way home. And because that doesn’t work, they appear to be trying out the usefulness of leaving wet bathing suits, dirt, snack wrappers, Go-Gurt drips, popsicle sticks, and crumbs from who knows what from one end of the house to the other. But the real fun is finding a slippery part on the floor from a newly sun screened child who almost escaped my efforts to protect them from skin cancer.
Don’t tell me I need to have better consequences or do a better job instilling responsibility. I have, and I do. Congratulations on your perfect robot children. My three are good kids, but they are kids. And I am trying to work from home and balance all of the things while giving them a good summer — but not too good because I don’t want to spoil them, but apparently I am not allowed to complain because that means I am the problem for not being more strict when I should just let kids be kids?
I love summer, but I still have the right to hate a few things, even if what I am feeling is deflected rage from all of the things going on in this dumpster fire of a country we call America. Mr. Ding-A-Ling is dead to me, and I am not sorry about it.
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