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CJ Heck

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The Ice Cream Cone (Children)
By CJ Heck
Monday, September 11, 2006

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A grandpa's gift of love ...

The Ice Cream Cone
(Understanding Divorce)

Introducing Millicent Cole, wife of Jacob, mother of Kali and Kristin, and grandmother to Douglas, the eight-year-old son of her oldest daughter, Kali -- the daughter who told everyone tonight at supper that she and her husband were getting a divorce -- it was news that rocked Millicent Cole's world for the second time that week.

Millie felt like she was falling off a building without a parachute.  She was sitting in a funeral home in the front row on a wooden folding chair.  Her eyes were riveted on a rosewood coffin surrounded by flowers up at the front of the room. 

Millie was there to say a final goodbye to her beloved grandfather who had passed away only two days ago and already, she missed him terribly.  Add to that the bomb Kali had dropped about the divorce and it was fair to say, Millie was feeling very vulnerable.

Her thoughts wandered to a time long, long ago, back to a summer when she was about Douglas's age.  That was the summer she was given the most precious gift she had ever received.  The gift was so dear to her, and yet it hadn't come in a fancy box all tucked into white tissue paper.  It didn't have any colorful wrapping paper or pretty ribbons or bows tied on either.  It hadn't even come with a store-bought greeting card.  It had been such a simple and loving gift, and it had been from Grampa ...

Millie had just turned eight when her best friend, Kylie, told her that her parents were getting a divorce. Kylie was so miserable and crying. Millie didn't know what to do or say to comfort her. She couldn't understand why Kylie's parents would do that -- get a divorce -- and Millie was about half mad at them for hurting Kylie like that.

Millie rode the school bus home in silence. When the driver finally opened the door in front of her house, Grandpa was there waiting for the bus, and for Millie. Millie was happy to see him. Maybe Grampa could help her understand why this was happening.

Grampa gave Millie a big hug.  "Hello, Millie-Me."  That was Grampa's special nickname for her.

Millie told him she was feeling sad.  Then she told him about her talk with Kylie.  She said she felt so bad for Kylie and about the coming divorce.  "Why would her parents do that and hurt Kylie that way?  I don't understand."  Millie said in a voice choked with tears.

 Grampa got down on one knee and hugged her again.  Then he suggested that they take a little walk down to the park and said, "I think it's time for an ice cream cone."

After Grampa paid the vendor for their cones, they walked down the little winding path through the park, under the thick canopy of trees, past an old woman feeding pigeons, until at last they came to an empty bench.

After they had been sitting there for awhile, Grampa pointed to her cone and said, “You know, honey, falling in love and getting married are a lot like your ice cream cone there. You got one scoop and you took a lick.  It tasted so good that you asked for another scoop right on the top of that one."

Millie was too busy licking the little drips that were already starting to run down the side of her cone to say anything, so she just nodded her head.

After a few more minutes, Grampa pointed up to the sky. "Today sure is hot.  Yep.  There isn't a cloud in the sky. The sun’s shining down on you, and it’s shining down on your ice cream cone, too.  But it sure looks like you’re enjoying it. In spite of all the drips running down your fingers and onto your hands, it must be pretty darn good. The faster it melts, the faster you’re licking to stop all of the dripping."

Millie nodded again. It was true . The drips were coming much faster now.  She was having trouble just keeping up with them.

Grampa saw Millie nod, so he went on to say, "Do you see those flies and gnats? They’ve been watching you enjoy your cone. Understand, they want some of that great ice cream, too!  They’ve started dive bombing from all sorts of different angles and grabbing little bites all for themselves. With the hand that isn’t holding your ice cream cone, I've watched you swiping and swatting like crazy to keep all the bugs away."

Now Millie giggled. Grampa made the bugs sound like real people who wanted her to share!

Grampa giggled, too, and then he continued.  "Now, what if Old Blue was here?  Let's say that old hound dog was sound asleep in the shade over there. Suddenly, he wakes up and sees the drips you’re leaving on the sidewalk down there by your feet. He would probably lumber on over here and lap up a few of those drips. He might even like them so much he'd try and take a few bites right from the cone in your hand!"

Millie thought about the melting ice cream and all the bugs. "I'm sure glad Old Blue's not here, too, Grampa!  There's not enough ice cream on this cone for all of us!"  She said in a loud voice.

"Well, there you are, honey. You're swiping at the bugs with one hand, pushing Old Blue away with your elbows, and the sun is melting the ice cream faster than your tongue can lick to keep up with it."

The bugs were being so pesky now that Millie was getting angry. She got up from the bench and tried to run away from them, when all of a sudden --

"P L O P!“

Millie frowned. She looked down at the pile of mushy ice cream and the cone that had landed upside-down on the ground between her feet. Sadly, Millie walked back over to the bench and sat down beside Grampa. Millie sighed, and after taking one last peek at her ice cream and cone, she asked, “Grampa, now HOW is THAT like people getting a divorce?”

“Sweet girl, marriage can be just like your ice cream cone. It’s just what you wanted when you wanted it. The love part truly is wonderful. Sometimes, though, there are just too many outside things that are getting in the way. Each of those things is taking big bites and little bites, pushing and shoving, and melting down all the really good parts. Sometimes, what finally happened to your ice cream cone happens in real life to a couple's marriage.”

Millie thought about her grampa's words. Getting married sure sounded like a lot of work and a lot more problems. Millie made up her mind. “Grampa, I don't think I EVER want to get married.”

“Millie-Me, think of it this way. That ice cream cone sure was good. Yes, it finally dropped on the sidewalk, but you worked real hard to keep it, and I'm proud of you.  I hope you'll always remember, that for a while, it was really, really good. Wasn't having it worth all the work in trying to keep it?”

Millie finally understood. She gave Grampa the grandest hug and he hugged her right back.  "Yeah, Grampa.  It was. Thank you."

Grampa smiled and kissed the top of her head. "You're welcome. C'mon Millie-Me.  Let's go home."

The organ music jolted her back into the present, but Millicent Cole smiled -- not a big smile, mind you, but a smile just the same.  Those were such perfect memories, and I'll always treasure them.  Grampa will be terribly missed ...

"Hi, Gram."  Millicent was surprised right out of her daydream.  She looked up to see Douglas's tear-stained face as he plopped down in the chair beside her.  "This is a double-dang, triple-dang bad day, Gram.  First Great-Grampa dying, then Mom and Dad getting a divorce.  Why?  I don't understand."

"I know, Dougie, I know."  Millie said as she wiped at a tear that had escaped down his cheek.  Then she hugged him.  "Let's go see your mother for a minute.  I think it's time you and I walked down to the park for an ice cream cone."  And after wiping a misbehaving tear of her own with a tissue, Millie added, "Come, Dougie, let's go make a memory." 

       Web Site: Barking Spiders Poetry for Children

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Reviewed by J Howard 9/15/2012
very sweet, very clever and oh so very true. wonderful way to relate a sad truth to a child. i enjoyed this very much as i do all your writing.
Reviewed by Wendy Cooper 6/7/2008
I love the thread connecting generations--even if there is a divorce people are still connected. Sometimes the thread of connection is a memory. I am an elementary school librarian and I think this is a wonderful stroy for children (some adults too). A wonderful analogy to help them understand what is becoming all too common in life.
Good work
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 10/21/2006
nicely done
Reviewed by Joyce Bowling 10/18/2006
Wonderful story, only wish more children had someone who wanted to make good memories with them. Very touching.
Joyce Bowling
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 9/12/2006
Beautiful write, CJ; very well penned!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
Reviewed by Peter Paton 9/11/2006

Good moral entwined in this superb children's story..
The direct and simplistic approach is always best in life I have found, no matter who you are conversing with !


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