Vn57.1 Desserts 8/3/77
When I was a small child, there was rarely dessert in my house.
On special occasions my mother might make some rice pudding or tapioca
(when cooked, the large size tapioca became transparent balls we children
pretended were the eyes of frogs). When my children pester after
every meal for dessert, I bolster my refusals by the argument that I
have ‘spoiled’ them and retreat with what little grace I can to limiting
their desserts to 1 a day.
They love ice cream and most especially those popsicles known
locally as dreamsicles. These are vanilla ice cream with an orange-ice
coating. Popsicles are prized because the children don’t have to sit
down to eat them; and they frequently make their own from orange and
grape juice. After lunch today, Robby and Miriam offered us this
proposition: they should have dreamsicles then and not after supper this
evening. Who could refuse such an innocent and fair proposal? I did,
expecting they would forget by supper their agreement at noon, or even
more likely, attempt to roll backward their allocation from the morrow
and embroil me in accountings I wish to avoid.
Bob You may not have any dreamsicles now.
Children (In chorus) Rats.
Bob Oh. You mean you want rat-sicles.
Children (General responses of feigned disgust: making faces, cries of
“Yuk!” and “Bleah!”)
Bob What would be wrong with a rat-sicle? They would be much
easier to make than popsicles. You catch a rat and pop him
in the freezer. You use the tail as a handle instead of a
Gretchen Scurry [our Scotty] would love to have a rat-sicle, though
maybe a mouse-sicle would be better for her size.
Children (Continue objecting, laughing, and feigning revulsion)
Robby That’s terrible. It would just be raw meat.
Miriam And drip blood. Yuk.
Bob I get the problem now. If you don’t like the blood and guts,
maybe you should try a motor-sicle; that would be covered with
Recognizing this impasse, Robby laughed roundly at the joke and roared
off on his motorcycle, and Miriam followed him to play out in the court
This vignette concluded with an exposition of a situation in which
the children find themselves. They are confronted by an argument of
disguised force, i.e. they can’t do what they want because I won’t let
them. The disguise (in this case) is one of joking and absurd argument.
I believe both children recognize that if, and when, they outwit me in
this sort of absurdity, I may well relent and let them have what they