Grinning cones and tinkling music

found on pinterest

Found on pinterest

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”

Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.

I was shopping the other day and I heard a familiar cadre of notes that sounded similar to something I could play on a toy xylophone.  I paused and I remember craning my neck to search outside for the source of my déjà vu.  There it was in all its candy colored glory, slowly travelling down the street, biding time until the haunting melodies drew the masses into the streets.

A part of me wanted to run outside and scream, “Ice cream!” but the grown up side stayed put.

In my adolescent years, I lived in a very small town.  I am not sure how he broke even with the drive it took to get there, but we did get to experience the ice cream truck, albeit not as often as other larger towns.  Maybe that is why it was such a treat; it didn’t become so familiar and expected.

When you are anywhere from about 3 to 13 (well 13 if your friends weren’t around), the minute you heard that tinkling refrain, you yelled, “Moooommmmm! It’s the ice cream man!!” and then it took all of the patience you could muster to wait for her to find her purse and dole out the coins.  Yes, I said coins. I’m almost 50.

We always sidled up to the truck together with mom or granny or someone looking on.  We come from a family that was VERY thorough regarding stranger danger.  Sometimes my imagination took me for a wild ride of possibilities between that creepy music and the grinning cones, and what the ice creams man’s motives might be if he weren’t a nice guy.  Yes, parents, this is what we do to our children in the name of safety.

The hardest thing of all was choosing what you wanted.  There was strawberry shortcake and chocolate éclairs, bomb pops, drumsticks and fudgsicles and ice cream sandwiches.  Inevitably, you were going to wish you had picked what your brother or sister picked but if everyone was getting along, you might just get a taste of theirs anyway.

The excitement was short lived.  You finished your cone and it was back to reality; no more tinkling music and choosing of sweet dairy delights.  You always knew it would be back another day though and that was enough.  That is one of the things I miss about childhood; I was easily excited by the simplest things.

Missing my girls

The girls when they were young

The girls when they were young

As the holidays loom ever closer, I find myself reminiscing about the simple things I miss.  Being an empty nester for almost a year now hasn’t been as bad as I feared.  Dad and I have had more time for each other and it’s been peaceful and quiet.

But sometimes a mama just has one of those days.

Today, I miss one hand in mine, while your dad held the other as we propelled you over a puddle or a crack or just for the thrill of hearing you giggle.  You would always plea, “do it again”, until our arms were worn out.  I miss tiny feet coming down the hall with sleepy eyes that beckoned me to pick you up and hold you for a while until you were fully awake.

I miss play-doh, yes, even play-doh and playdates and parks; climbing up the slide with you in my arms and sliding down while holding on to you for dear life.

The dinner table is much quieter now and there are never any spills or anyone scrunching their nose up at my choice of veggies.  It only takes a minute to clean up afterwards and there is no one volunteering to help.   Oh wait; there wasn’t when you were here either!

I miss the wide, trusting eyes that believed everything I told them and somehow instinctively knew I had their best interest at heart.

Oh yes, I even miss the makeup encrusted counters, because they remind me of “getting ready” with you to go on one of our outings.  I miss a house full of friends, being your taxi and proudly watching you play all your sports.  Today, I even miss the smelly tripled amounts of laundry.

I miss the way I rarely had to drag you to church because you always wanted to go.  I miss your excitement over mission trips and the way you told stories of the life changing experiences you had upon your return from them.

I am sure I’ll have other days like this, because I have so many wonderful memories with you.  You were a pleasure to raise (most of the time).  Don’t get so teary and filled with sympathy that you think this means you have to return for good, but a visit in the near future would be nice!

Make sure that you enjoy the “simple” things, as those are the ones you will remember with such fondness.



Mean big sister

It was a gloomy, cold, windy day, much like today.  I emerged, clad as an alien, from between the two buildings that belonged to the Baptist Church next door to my granny’s house.  My 5th grade imagination coupled with findings from an elderly woman’s closet probably didn’t provide the most believable attire, but the costume served its purpose in deceiving my unsuspecting siblings.

“My name is Zeus and I came from another planet.  If you don’t do as I say, I will take you back there with me.”  This is what I told my younger brother and sister in the best alien voice I could muster. They didn’t realize that earlier, I had disappeared into my granny’s bedroom, adorned myself in some of her clothes, wrapped my hair up in a turban using some material she had, and covered my face completely in white powder.  While I readied myself for the subterfuge, I prepared my story.  And don’t ask me why I picked the name Zeus, it had nothing to do with Greek mythology.

Spaceship airbornBefore going outside, I clued Granny in on my plan and she giggled and said, “I don’t know Lisi-O (her pet name for me)”, you might scare them.  I’m sure the old green and white floor length curtains rustled as she kept a close eye on my movements, taking care that things didn’t go too far.

After I told them who as was, and my intentions to take them away with me as soon as my spaceship returned, they cowered on the ground, visibly shaken.  Their eyes were wide as saucers and they hovered together anxiously awaiting my next command.

It didn’t take very long for me to either feel sorry for them, or my grandmother to intervene.  In all honesty, I don’t remember which occurred first.  However, they had to be convinced of the truth to abate the tears.  I remember having to remove some of the garb or say or do something right away to make them recognize that it was only I, the meanie; the elder sister who made their lives miserable enough without adding such fear to it.

I mentioned that I was writing this to my sister and she reminded me that after I told them the truth we all went back outside and played “Zeus and her prisoners”.  I ordered them around and they willingly complied, anxious to continue the fun.

Looking back, I have no idea why they believed I was really an alien, or fell for the ruse, but when you are young, you are more gullible, you see things through the imaginative, all-believing, trusting eyes of a child.

I know this is an odd little story, but there is comfort in the memories.  I think of Granny, laughing and plotting and rescuing.  Then there is the quality time (well, most of it was quality) spent with her and my brother and sister.  We had many “Norman Rockwell” moments  🙂

Mitch Teemley

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