Yesterday was terrible.
And by terrible I mean, bladder infection, 2 trips to Target, a trip to express care, still trying desperately to finish my syllabi which requires intense focus on details even though I feel awful and the girls are running wild around me.
By 8 pm, we were finished. Worn down. I put M in the stroller and told the girls we would walk around the block before pajamas. Evening walk almost always works to bring everybody down to calm: look for bunny rabbits, talk about whatever is on their mind, let my own stress from the day go.
And then the ice cream truck drove by, slowly, blaring high pitched music and quacking like a duck.
D was astonished. Is that an ICE CREAM TRUCK? (We don’t normally have them in our neighborhood, no idea where this one came from.) A small shirtless child went running down the street, chasing the truck, trying to hold his pants up. T and I looked at each other. Everything on our front lawn is moving in that incredible slo-mo speed that it does at the end of the day.
D is freaking out: LETS GO GET ICE CREAM!!! The truck stops about a block away. T goes in the house to look for quarters. Lucy decides she needs to ride her scooter. A big line of people forms at the truck. I had no idea this many children even lived in my neighborhood. We start making our way, slowly, down the block, but the girls insisted on riding their scooters and we only make it about halfway before the truck starts pulling away. D starts wailing. We are too far away to shout stop or wait. They are too little to run ahead and cross the street. L hits a bump on the sidewalk with her scooter and goes headfirst over the handlebars. Now they are both crying. Shirtless kid walks past us, down the middle of the street, still holding his pants up with one hand, and holding a box in the other hand. No idea why he doesn’t have ice cream. No idea why this is happening to me.
We roll slowly back towards our house and we can hear the truck on another block. D is convinced we can still catch it, so T hops on the bike and she hops on the tagalong and L and I keep walking, pushing M in the stroller. I’m not even sure we have enough quarters to buy anything even if we find the ice cream truck.
The search is fruitless. We end up back in the front yard. T loads the girls in the car to go to DQ, but D is still crying that she wants the ice cream FROM THE TRUCK DOES THE TRUCK PARK AT THE ICE CREAM STORE WHERE DO THE TRUCKS GO AT NIGHT PLEASE CAN WE FIND IT PLEASE? I am torn between feeling like a completely inadequate parent because I can’t even get my shit together to make it to the ice cream truck and feeling like I wish I had never had children.
T takes the big girls to DQ. M and I share a GoGurt. She is ridiculously happy and smiley. She has no idea what trauma has just unfolded around her. Eventually, the big girls go to bed and it’s just me and T and the baby, if we can still call her that, watching the guys on American Pickers ooo and aaahhh over ancient Indian motorcycle gas tanks. She asks to nurse, but she’s not ready to sleep, so I nurse her and then she bounces around the living room a while longer. T offers to put her to bed and I am intensely grateful: crawl in bed, read 2 pages of a biography of Abigail Adams, go to sleep. Begin again tomorrow.
I was stressing about the mess in the kitchen and living room and T said, wisely: Just let this day be over. You get another chance tomorrow. So here I am, morning after, drinking coffee, handful of antibiotics and cranberry tablets, surrounded by mess, stack of quarters waiting by the back door in case the ice cream truck comes back today. How lucky, that we get so many chances at this life.