Dispatches from the Parenting Wars Against the Ice Cream Man

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It's that time of year again: Those delightful jangly tones are in the air offering sweetness in the form of frozen delights, and in response, like dogs trained by Pavlov, children are screaming for ice cream. And parents of Park Slope and its neighboring environs are screaming, as well, except in outrage. The seasonal shots have been fired; the war against the ice cream man, dormant for the winter, is alive again. 

Although the New York Post would have you believe this battle is a new one, it is years old, going back to 2009, when it was written about in the The New York Times, and even earlier, perhaps even before the Internet, perhaps to a time when frozen sugar was first created and sold from trucks on the streets. But certainly since 2006, at least, parents have hated the ice cream man. With a passion. There is plenty of Internet-accessible proof:

I HATE THE ICE CREAM MAN !!!!! (September 2011, Babycenter) 

So I WAS having a nice, relaxing time in the shade in my backyard and then.... The sound every parent hates... The ice cream man... My DS runs to me.. " You pomised mommy". So I waddle my big whale ass in the house... Scrambling for cash... Of course I have no cash! So I frantically look for quarters, I found 2 quarters and the rest was nickles and dimes (really, its 2011 everyone excepts visa lol) all this time my DS is freaking out and I hear the ice cream man closer and closer.... We jet outside, my pants falling off and my shirt riding up... School just got out so all these jr high kids are looking at me. Almost to the ice cream van and.... He drives off... My DS starts to cry so now I'm determined to get him an ice cream... Well the freaking guys stops like half a block away so I grab DS's hand and we start jogging... We are 10 feet away and he drives off again! I start yelling for him to wait. Well then he stopped about another half block away so we jogg a little more and this time he started driving off when we were like 6 feet away! I was so pissed! I yelled so loud and he stopped so fast his brakes screetched. I finally got there... I asked him why he didn't stop and all he said was "which one"! I said starwberry shortcake and gave him a handful of change... I gracefully waddled my big body back to my house a block away... With the worse pain I've felt in a while! Just thought I'd share...

I Hate the Ice Cream Truck (May 2009, Momlogic)

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, a Mister Softee truck will be planted outside that playground fence waiting for my 2-year-old. What follows is one of two scenarios: a mid-morning tantrum or a pre-nap sugar high. Sadly (for my son), the former is usually the result.

Why, oh why, is that ice cream truck camped out at a playground? I was under the impression that a playground was a place where little people got some exercise, not an outdoor cafeteria where they tanked up on empty calories.

Role Daddy: The Ice Cream Man (July 2010, Rolemommy.com)

As a parent? I FREAKIN' HATE the ice cream truck! HATE! HATE HATE HATE!! It's about the biggest instigator of discord in all my family. I think he's following me around, knows my schedule with the kids and our standard meal times and does everything he possibly can to accost us right before lunch and dinner almost every day from May through August each year. He sneaks up on us, too. You're about to try and get your kid seated before a plate of good-for-you lightly-steamed vegetables when this truck comes darting up filled with Chipwiches. It is not complementary to the mission. It is a disaster. And I take offense to it.

i hate the ice cream man. (March, 2006, Flickr)

if you have the option to buy a house across the street from a park, don't. lest you too will hate the ice cream man.

as soon as it is remotely nice outside 2-3 dueling trucks circle the freaking park from the crack of dawn until the last sliver of light is squeezed from the day...blasting their dissonant tunes. by the beginning of june i am plotting the murder of all 3 drivers.

Proof The Ice Cream Man Is The Fifth Horseman Of The Apocolypse (July 2009, BlondeMomBlog)

It’s just the ice cream man, our ice cream man, has horrific timing. He always drives by blaring his annoying cheerful ice cream man van music just as we are sitting down for dinner, and I have a difficult enough time achieving dinnertime Zen, thank you very much (shakes fist in the air). Either that or he cruises through our subdivision when literally the only money I have on me is 72 sticky cents, usually with a pony tail holder thrown in for good measure, in the cup holder of my car. This is a guaranteed formula for a whine fest since I have to deny the girls ice cream. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve actually shut our front door if I so much as hear the cheerful carnival type music in the distance, not that our front door and storm door really seal out the noise that much. Plus there’s something in me that just can’t quite fork over a couple of dollars for an orange push up out on our front lawn when I can turn around, walk into my house, open the freezer, and raid an entire box that cost less.

Getting tough on Mr. Softee: Parents bitter trucks stop at schools, parks (May 2009, New York Daily News)

"It's one thing if they're just in the neighborhood, but to be here by contract [with the city], they might as well be selling drugs."

And from that New York Times piece from 2009:

Vicki Sell, mother of 3-year-old Katherine, tenses when the vendor starts ringing his little bell, over and over, hoping her daughter doesn’t have the typical Pavlovian response."

Ever since Katherine had an inconsolable meltdown about not being able to have a treat, Ms. Sell has been trying to have unlicensed vendors ousted from the park. She has repeatedly called the city’s 311 complaint hot line, joining parents nationwide who can’t stand the icy man or his motorized big brother, the ice cream man.

Later, to the joy of many, it was revealed that Ms. Sell was the owner of The Chip Shop, a fish and chip joint on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, that "will fry just about anything that can be battered and placed on a wooden stick!" Hypocrisy!

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With all this historical conflict, it's no surprise that once again, in a particularly warm year, the skirmishes have begun again, though this year bears the promise of even more epic levels of outrage, since it's only April 2. Sell is not quoted in the latest anti-ice-cream-man article, but there are others who have taken her place. Michael Gartland writes in the Post, "Along with the first truly beautiful day of the year, my son and I had our first ruined day at the playground,” the poster named Sarah somberly recounted. “Two different people came into the actual playground with ice cream/Italian ice push carts. I was able to avoid it for a little while but eventually I left with a crying 4-year-old.”

If a 4-year-old is crying, it's time to ban something! Yet dissenting parents, likely brainwashed by excessive ice cream eating themselves, say this is just a part of life, and surely there's something to tempt your child wherever you look, whether it's fresh kale at the farmer's market, babyccinos, or a delightful artisanal cheese plate. The defense from the side of the ice cream man has been minimally reported, but one vendor named Frankie, quoted in 2009 by the Daily News (after being compared to a drug pusher) said, "We're not pushing anybody to eat ice cream. As a parent, you have to know how to say no." 

But why learn "no" when "ban" slips off the tongue just as easily in the same exact number of deliciously sugary syllables?

Somebody needs a nap. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.