The ice cream rebellion

“I’m not touching you,” my 6-year-old said, holding a pillow a mere millimeter from my face after I demanded he stop hitting me with it.

“I know what you’re doing,” I said, beyond agitated.

“I know what I’m doing, too,” he said gleefully. “I’m not hitting you with the pillow, just like you asked.”

He was so darn proud of his defiance that I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve always been a fan of small acts of rebellion and victimless crimes. My son lives in a world of rules, demands, structure, timelines and punishment. Was he being a punk with the pillow? Absolutely. Was he relishing in his act of defiance, which fell a mere wisp within the lines? Absolutely squared. And it’s hard to fault him for it. In my adult life — also full of rules, demands, structure, timelines and consequences — there is nothing sweeter than the feeling of getting away with something just a tad naughty. It’s why I still love to blow the paper off my straws — a pastime that may end soon, now that we think of straws as the devil in white-paper-tubed pajamas.

I’ve always taken immense pleasure in participating in and hearing stories of these micro-rebellions. The more innocuous they are the more my heart swells. They are, in my humble opinion, healthy — even the completely unhealthy ones that kids and adults engage in, such as sneaking a bowl of ice cream for breakfast.

Ice cream, the most scandalous of all dairy products, seems to be the epicenter of micro-rebellions — a point my friend Brian drove home when he had his own micro-rebellion at our friend’s wedding last weekend. The ceremony and reception took place on a cruise ship that was docked to load its new passengers for the weeklong travels. The wedding couple were signed up for the seven days of disco nights and buffets. The wedding guests, however, had only a few hours on the boat to attend the ceremony, cut the cake and get kicked off. There was an hour or so, though, when the wedding guests were allowed to walk freely around the boat prior to attending the ceremony. And that’s when the unlimited ice cream bar was discovered.

Soft serve your heart out!

Brian has always had a soft spot for soft serve. We were in college together, and I saw him on many occasions holding off breakfast until 11 a.m. — when they’d open up the soft serve machine — simply so he could use vanilla ice cream instead of milk in his breakfast cereal. It was an act of 18-year-old defiance against what his parent-paid meal card was intended for. When it comes to ice cream, all rules are off. On the cruise, he made himself and demolished four cones before the guests were called in for the ceremony.

Immediately after the reception, the wedding guests were escorted via security guard off the boat. The crew was careful to not have any stowaways for the disembarkation an hour later. Brian had assumed the reception would have more soft serve. It did not. And here he was, so close to his favorite thing in the world but being pushed off the boat by rules and timelines. It could not stand!

Brian was last in line of our friends exiting the boat, and before he stepped onto the plank, he made a run for it, screaming behind him, “I need one more cone!” It took him 20 minutes to run up two decks and to the complete other side of the boat, fill up a fat cone, and make it back down to the plank. The sound of his name being called over the loudspeaker caused him to grin, chocolate soft serve in the corners of his mouth. He wore it with pride as he stepped off the boat.

His wife smacked his arm and said, “Crazy person! What’d you do that for?” But Brian felt amazing. And it wasn’t just the ice cream that made him feel good. It was the specific kind of joy you have as a 6-year-old when your mom tells you to get the pillow off her face and you hold it a millimeter away.

I reluctantly welcome these micro-rebellions from my kid, but I have a feeling I’m going to need to pour myself a lot of ice cream for breakfast to survive them.


Katie Langrock is a nationally

syndicated columnist.