The Sunday drive: a peaceful, rural tradition in America. The family loads up in the automobile and meanders through the pastoral landscape, talking quietly about the view outside the unrolled window. If it’s winter, I’ll pack a thermos of hot cocoa. If it’s summer, we’ll stop and get a cherry limeade as we roll back into town. (Rewind sound effect).
“Hop in, everybody!” I said lightly a couple of weeks ago. “We’re going on a Sunday drive!”
Receiving no response to my initial suggestion, I went around pulling off headphones, before making my announcement again. “Hey, family! It’s a beautiful day! Let’s go out for a Sunday drive!”
“Can we like, get the new peanut butter cup frosties instead of sundaes though? I like those better, and they’re only like, six dollars more than a sundae,” said my teen.
“Dude, can I take my air gun? Jeff’s uncle shoots pheasants out the truck windows and he says it’s crazy how many you can get,” said my middle schooler.
“I get to pick the DVD to watch in the van! I want My Little Pony!” shouted my six-year-old.
“Whoa! Everyone! This is a peaceful, family drive. We aren’t taking air rifles; we aren’t watching videos; and we MIGHT, if you’re lucky, stop for ice cream on the way back into town.” I was pretty proud of my parenting at that moment, as I kept my voice steady, yet firm.
“AWWWWWW! Can’t we at least get ice cream on the way OUT of town, so we have something to DO in the van?” Clementine pouted.
Choose your battles, Valerie, I tell myself. Getting ice cream on the way out of town isn’t that big of a deal. “Sure! Why not?” I said. Another tally mark under the “Good Parent” column for me.
“I get the back seat,” said Millie, who likes to wrap the seatbelt loosely around her waist, lie back, and stare at her phone while we travel.
“So what? Sit back there,” Dashiell grouched. “You stink anyway. I hope you get car sick, you piece of . . .”
“Hey! Can you guys be nice on this drive? Please?” I barked. “Let’s just go look at the fricking fall leaves.”
“I’m being extra good, right, Mommy? Not like fart-face Dashiell and dumb-butt Millie,” Clementine chimed.
Joel took the wheel and we headed toward the ice cream place. Rather than herd everyone out of the car, he went in to grab our order. Even though we only had a few items, I knew better than to trust Joel’s memory, so I wrote the order down. Millie wanted a deluxe cocoa bomb peanut butter cup frosty; Clementine wanted a double butterscotch drizzle cheesecake chunk parfait, and I wanted a salted caramel chocolate shake without the chocolate. Dashiell only wanted a vanilla-chocolate swirl cone with sprinkles. We got outta there for under 60 bucks until Joel dropped the cone and had to go back in for another one. It worked out though because, by that time, Dashiell had changed his mind and wanted the same thing Clementine had ordered.
As we drove along a country road, I relished the ice-cream-induced silence, thinking what a good choice I had made, getting it at the beginning of the trip rather than the end. Good parent column was really adding up.
Less than a mile outside of town, Clementine said, “I’m done with my ice cream, Mommy. Here.” She handed me roughly six dollars-worth of double butterscotch drizzle cheesecake chunk parfait. I wasn’t finished eating mine yet, but Joel, always good for the clean-up work, took it on.
“Can we like, go home now? Some friends are getting together for ice cream,” Millie piped up from the back.
“You just had ice cream,” I said.
“Yeah, but I can order something different this time.”
I sighed. Joel was nodding off in the driver’s seat after the two large ice cream treats anyway. We pulled into the garage roughly 15 minutes after we had left it. On the bright side, we actually put less than a mile on the van, so all in all, it had been a nice ride. Enjoy the ride!