It was crowded in Jason’s Deli on Saturday night. We had bantered (maybe even argued) back and forth as we tried to decide where to eat. After three basketball games we all just wanted food, and quickly. There was no time to cook, and I had absolutely no desire to clean up.
A couple of kids were hangry, unhappy with the restaurant choice and declaring, “I’m not eating.”
But I knew better.
Salads, soups and sandwiches finally filled bellies and attitudes miraculously brightened.
“Sorry, mom. I was hungry.” Eyes downcast, sheepish glances thrown my way to guage my reaction.
“I forgive you.” I always forgive them. Always will.
They asked for ice cream and we said yes, of course. Happily they ran to the back, behind the salad bar, to choose a cone and try to create the perfect swirl with a Dairy Queen curl on top. I was going to hold out, though. Ice cream isn’t good for the waistline and I had just eaten a huge salad. Wouldn’t want to undo all that good nutrition, right?
Then I spotted the little girl at the table beside ours.
She was about two years old, blonde wisps escaping from a thin ponytail and framing her little face. She sat alone at the table. Alone, except for the ice cream cone in her left hand. Having eaten the frozen goodness all the way down to the cone and determined to enjoy what was buried deep down, she plunged the fingers of her right hand deep into the ice cream cone and they emerged, dripping. Shoving them into her mouth she closed her eyes in ecstasy, completely unaware that I was watching. That little girl knew how to enjoy an ice cream cone and she was going for it…with gusto.
The little girl sucked the ice cream off her fingers and reached in again, a smile playing on her white-framed lips. I elbowed my husband who was, by now, enjoying an ice cream cone of his own and drew his attention to her. You could not watch that child eat her ice cream and not feel your spirits lift.
Her dad and older brother returned and I cast a glance at my empty salad plate.
“I’m going to get ice cream,” I said.
“YOU?” my kids all said in unison.
“Me. Just a little one.” I smiled as I made my way to the ice cream machine and picked the perfect cone into which I swirled just a little vanilla ice cream and topped it with the perfect Dairy Queen curl.
Then, to the delight of my children, I ate it.
What if we lived in the moment like that little girl? Fully present and connected?
Not worried about what others think?