Tonight was my ice cream date with Cohen. Once a month, we usually get frozen yogurt in Crystal Lake. But at 6:00 on a school night, Crystal Lake felt about as close as Orlando, so we decided on Cary’s DQ instead. Cohen was already in his spiderman footie pjs, but he slipped on his tennis shoes and gray hoodie, placed his new Rangers tee-ball cap on his head, and we were ready to go. I donned my yoga pants and what Jacob not-so-affectionatley calls my 90s stoner fleece. We were quite the pair.
He ordered his “oreo blend” (blizzard) and I got a chocolate dipped cone. The manager was laughing with a patron who also appeared to be a family friend, and a boy who could not have been a day older than 15 accompanied our orders with an innocent, brace-covered grin. “It’s his second day,” the manager knowingly told the family friend.
We tried sitting outside and watching the trains and cars, but April still clung resolutely to March, and inspite of the basball-hat-over-hood motif, Cohen decided he was too cold and we went back inside to eat. I asked him what he felt about leaving Saints Peter and Paul and attending Briargate next year, and he shrugged his shoulders and said “ehhh.” He said he couldn’t wait for baseball because daddy was going to watch him at every practice. He (tried) to read every sign in the store and pondered whether or not they could make Cubs ice cream cakes since they could make Sox, Blackhawks, and Bulls icecream cakes. I asked him if he would miss anyone in his class, and he said “Jake’s going to another school too next year. I’m not sure which one, maybe Deerpath?” And just when I thought we were getting somewhere, he inturrupted himself with a question about why different sized cups were hanging above the cash registers. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up, and he said he didn’t really know, and I said that’s pretty normal. Then he asked me if I would ever switch jobs, but before I could answer I was affronted with more ponderances about signage regarding smoothies.
I try to not only ask questions about the future. What do you want to be? What are you most looking forward to about summer? What do you want to do at your 7 year old birthday party? Where do you most want to go on vacation? Because Cohen always brings me back: Back to the signs in the room (Blizzard of the Mountain? No– blizzard of the month), the trains outside (why do they go backwards?) and the people placing orders (She’s getting peanutbutter! — Astonished look–.) What matters to me doesn’t quite matter to him.
But I’ll keep giving him this space. This space to talk, to question, to laugh. That’s what we all want– a space to be heard, even if all we have to reflect on is a tattered catologue of ice cream cakes and the traffic on route 14. Sometimes what we need is space to talk and a little bit of ice cream.