Summer time in the city means heat, humidity, park sprinklers and ice cream trucks. Lots and lots of ice cream trucks, on every corner, with their stupid little ice cream truck song. The urban Pied Pippers. The battle parents wage with these dastardly suitors to our child’s mind is nothing new and has been on going since the first Good Humor trucks started rolling around American towns in the 1920’s. In the city, though, it’s a veritable infestation. They descend in droves like city tow trucks on the last day of each month setting up on strategic corners that despite our best efforts we inevitably must traverse.
My son never paid much attention to them since he did not know what was inside. Until grandma decided to offer her cutie pie a cone of soft serve on a sweltering afternoon and everything changed. Now maps must be used and real time satellite imaging incorporated into our daily strategy sessions to find breaching points in the ice cream truck syndicate’s web.
On occasion, our intelligence gathering fails us and as we turn a corner on what we think is a cleared area we find the blue and white monster (Mr. Softee here in NYC) looming over us – its song taunting us just like in the best horror movies. Foiled, we attempt standard evasive maneuvers:
- Out of sight, out of mind – This is the easiest and fastest flanking maneuver. The parent not involved in pushing the stroller steps into the child’s line of sight. This, of course is best combined with the “Oh, look!” tactic.
- Oh, look! – This works to disturb the radio frequency of the ice cream truck’s music. Often used with the “Out of sight, out of mind” tactic, the parent closest to the child swings them away from the offending truck and points upwards at nothing in particular exclaiming in an overly excited voice “Oh, look! It’s a (fill in the blank)”.
- Run for it – usually in the opposite direction.
None of these usually work, but it’s worth a try. Inevitably my son starts to point at the truck and gets all excited until he realizes that we are not stopping. His lips start to quiver and his brow furrows into a frown. Tears starts to streak his cheeks and the whimper turns into a wail as he attempts to eject himself from the stroller. It usually takes several blocks and one parent draped across the stroller to get him to calm down or to distract him again, but the mental and physical (mainly eardrums) damage to parents is irreparable. I’m thinking of starting a support group.