Lots of parents aren’t particularly concerned about stuff on their kids’ faces. This is because you can wipe a child’s face, leave the room to throw out the tissue, and return to find them covered with snot and dog hair. You’re standing there thinking, “We don’t even own a dog.” Well, that’s beside the point. The point is that keeping your kid’s face clean is like pushing a boulder uphill. Except the boulder has teeth, and can scream.
When I was child free, I’d laugh nervously when people passed me their baby food-covered kids. Then I’d lunge for the nearest napkin before the baby could slime my sweater. I always figured I’d grow out of that when I had my own kids, but instead I just chase Hank around with baby wipes all day. The result is a remarkably fastidious kid who would prefer not to touch anything that might leave a residue. He has a very conflicted relationship with bananas.
For some reason, I didn’t ponder this much when we took him out for his first ice cream cone. It was the first warm day we’ve had since he’s been old enough to hold his own cone, and I could barely wait. I’d somehow failed to remember that the kid who loves to play in mud and sand, and splash in puddles had to be taught that all those things were cool. We weren’t going to rush at him screaming, “Noooooooooo!” and then whisk off all his clothing to go soak it in the bathtub. Mud all over your shirt? Yes. Smoothie and dog hair all over your shirt? No. These are complex distinctions.
So we convinced Hank to hold his cone the way we convince him to do anything scary. Outright bribery. As you may recall, Hank will only be bribed with chocolate. Perhaps you think this is a no-brainer, because ice cream conveniently comes in chocolate form. Perhaps you have forgotten that ice cream remains on one’s face, long after one has requested that it be removed?
And apparently ice cream drips?
And this chocolate is cold? Which is unexpected when we’re talking about chocolate. And why aren’t you holding it, as any idiot can see that your manual dexterity far exceeds that of a toddler?
Why are you making him do this? It is disgusting. Are you not aware that he has teeth and can scream?
Eventually, through our laughter, we convinced him that ice cream on a cone would not grab his ankles when he walked by the bed, or secret away his security blanket while he was distracted by ice tongs. So Hank warmed to the idea of holding it himself.
He took about two bites and then thrust it at me, “You hold it?” Fair enough. He pointed at my napkin and held his hands out questioningly. So I obliged.
Then he ran back and forth on the sidewalk screeching happily while we finished our cones.
It was a good day.