Sweet Little Lies

Ice Cream Truck
Ice Cream Truck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.


  1. Love this. Need to retrain my kids with the music truck lingo. Our music truck got tossed out of the local park two weeks ago by a parks worker. The ones here seem to favor steel drums so I pretend it’s a strawberry daiquiri truck and we are in the Bahamas.


    1. A daiquiri truck…that sounds like something they’d have in New Orleans. I’m pretty sure there’s a donut truck near my friend’s place in Portland, Oregon (but then, they have all kinds of food trucks there).


  2. Note to self:

    Make sure that my daughter is aware of CJ’s family lore. She mustn’t inadvertently ask her child to catch up with the “Music Truck” for an Ice Cream sandwich.

    We occasionally patronize the Ice Cream Truck (But only if we are caught at the park on a 105 degree day without water or a functioning vehicle–and we are about to expire from heat exhaustion).

    I quietly bristle with anger and frustration whenever the truck rolls down our street (the same truck and same street as CJ). What gives them the right to blare their jingles at 150 decibels? It
    scares the pets, disturbs my work and manipulates my child (“Hello-o, Hello-o!”). Do they really think that my girl is a Pavlovian dog, subject to the enticement of Turkey in the Straw?! (Actually, it is quite effective at getting her stomach and taste buds in synch).

    I have often considered petitioning our town to enforce its policy on noise pollution and disturbing the peace. I realize that towns license a few vendors to sell from curbside, and I get that Ice Cream trucks are woven into our culture since the days before refrigeration. I even recognize that free-market economics supports a higher price per serving for bringing individual food portions to your front yard on a hot day.

    But for the love of Pete, please stop blaring your music and peddling your sweets on my street. It is an attempt to undermine the effectiveness of parenting (perhaps successfully for some families). It’s insulting and it’s quite obscene.

    In our family, it’s not a “Music Truck”. It’s just an opportunistic, overpriced, rolling, junk-food peddling, noise polluter.

    That’s my 2¢.
    –Ellery awildduck.com

    P.S. That was a great Blog entry, CJ! I wish that I had thought about the topic for my own readers!


    1. Thanks for the comment, Ellery! I wouldn’t worry too much about ruining the ruse for the older child, but maybe keep the truth under your hat for a while yet for the little guy. In his world, fire trucks are red and music trucks are white, and I prefer to keep it that way for just a little longer.

      And if you don’t like the trucks here, you should have heard/seen one of the ones we had in our neighborhood back in Utah. That was a scary Music Truck. I prefer the little push-cart ones near the National Mall that have actual honest-to-goodness bells on them.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s