Once a week or so, Biet and I have been making it a point to go out on a lady date together, just us two. Some days we hold hands and walk through the park, pointing out the pigeons, trees, benches, and people. Some days we stroll the farmer's market, learning as we walk about the different fruits and vegetables and foliage that are in season. Always, we end with ice cream.
Before she entered this first phase of childhood, when Biet was fresh off the boat into toddlerdom, just beginning to walk, and eat, and speak, she began her obsession with chocolate ice cream. I remember the day she first tasted it, how her eyes lit up in a crazy kind of way, how she loved it, and how she never looked back. I remember because I'm pretty sure that's exactly how I must have reacted the first time I tasted chocolate ice cream too. Time has shown that, like me, she's kind of fanatical about her ice cream. It actually kind of runs in our family..
No matter the season, or time of day, or current state of groceries in our home, my Dad always, and I mean always, had a gallon of ice cream in the freezer when I was growing up. Chocolate chip ice cream, to be exact. We would end almost every day with a bowl of it, and sometimes whip up a shake midday too. My sisters and I never even dreamed of buying another flavor at the store. Chocolate chip was Dad's favorite, and our freezer would look positively naked without it, and so, it became a permanent part of our family's identity.
My grandfather ended every day with a bowl of chocolate ice cream. That was just his thing, I've been told. He was a loving, stalwart, disciplined man. He had fathered five children. He had served many years in the military. And after dinner each night, as the house calmed down and the end of the evening neared, he would sit down in his big chair with a giant bowl of ice cream, not to be touched by the kids, and not to be questioned by anyone.
By chance, my very first job was in a tiny artisan ice cream parlor, the first of its kind in the town. At fifteen years old, I learned to make gelato and ice cream from scratch, to run a small shop, and to taste a scope of Italian flavors which opened my eyes to the world, and the art, of true ice cream. I spent my afternoons skating out to cars in rollerskates carrying trays not of chocolate chip and vanilla, but Stracciatella, Pistachio, Fleur de Sel-Caramel, and Lavender gelato. Over the couple of years I worked there, what I had known my whole life was reinforced: that I'm really an ice cream kind of gal (and I mean an ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner kind of gal- it's kind of ridiculous) Ask anyone.
And now the next generation carries on the unintentional ice cream tradition. For my Biet, its dark chocolate ice cream, or no ice cream at all! We have our favorite places to grab a cup (never a cone- neither for her nor I), and she knows the drill: order, pay with the money, grab a napkin, find a table, and take off her shirt. Shirtless ice cream dates are the only way to go, I tell you (ahem, for her, not me). I figure, there are only a few good years of your life when its perfectly acceptable to eat shirtless in public, so why not take full advantage while you can, and avoid a few chocolate stains while you're at it?
We'll sit for our date and talk about our day and our hopes and dreams for the future. My dreams usually involve living in a spacious loft with a gaggle of children and multiple creative ventures. Her dreams usually revolve around parks, baby brothers, and ballet. Sometimes she'll lift the spoon to my face and offer "one bite for Biet, one bite for Mama!". It's so relaxing and rewarding to be able to give her, for a few hours, one hundred percent of my attention. I truly cherish these dates with my little girl, these few hours each week when the whole world is just she and I, wandering the city together.
And the ice cream is a nice perk too :)
FUN BUT TOTALLY UNRELATED:
Although we don't use a their strollers, my friends over at Bugaboo shared this pretty video with me this week for their new #DiscoverTheBuffalo release, starring some pretty great bloggers. Check it out! It makes me so excited to finally see the upcoming short film we shot with Jenner Brown of Lumineax Films, which is coming out next month!