My children are running in the yard of a summer day, giggling and digging in the dirt and showing me the worms and bugs they’ve found. The wind shifts and we turn our faces into it, enjoying the heat of the sun and the cool of the breeze against our skin. And then, amid the tweets and caws and chick-a-dee-dee-dees we hear another sound: a thin, mechanical “Turkey in the Straw” punctuated by a saccharin female voice beckoning, “Hello-o!”
It’s the Pied Piper of the summer suburbs: the Ice Cream Truck.
But that is not what my children think.
We—my husband and I—try not to lie to our children. If Santa or the tooth fairy come to visit, it’s clearly in a wink-wink, we’re-all-in-on-the-game kind of way. When the neighbor cats drop little animal “gifts” off, the mice and birds aren’t just sleeping.
But there is one misdirection we’ve perpetrated for our children’s entire lives. When my children hear the siren song of an upbeat “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” played against an electronic drum beat from a grungy vehicle driving down the street, they stop what they’re doing and yell, “The Music Truck!”
The story in our family is this: The Music Truck drives around playing music for people as a pleasant treat on sunny summer days. My children love when the Music Truck comes by. They dance around and hum the tunes. And they defend our neighborhood Music Truck vociferously if I ever compare it unfavorably to those elsewhere. We were visiting my dad in Washington, D.C., and I mentioned that the Music Truck music in his neighborhood was much better than that in our neighborhood and my daughter just about threw down the gauntlet in defense of the tinny little tunes played over the loudspeaker at home in Massachusetts.
Even so, my seven-year-old has started to catch on. “Mommy,” she said in awed tones one day, “did you know that some Music Trucks also sell ice cream?”
But my three-year-old is still happily nestled deep within the myth I’ve woven.
Yesterday, we sat together in the office as I typed up my blog post about savory smoothies. Through the open window came the thrumming, bottom-rumbling bass of a passing car, a very unusual occurrence in our usually staid suburban New England neighborhood. My son dropped the Legos he was playing with and ran to the window.
“Mommy!” he yelled. “It’s the Music Truck!”
And I suppose he’s right.