Not backing down

I did what I could to change my daughter’s mind, but she didn’t, and I couldn’t be more proud



I have no idea where my daughter gets her taste from, but it’s not from her mother or me.

An ice cream shop near us was having a fundraiser for a family whose home was damaged in a fire recently. I thought I’d swing by with my daughter to show some support and because ice cream is awesome.

Because the proceeds were going to a good cause, I told her she could get anything she wanted: no matter how many scoops, whatever crazy toppings, however massive a container it may come in – anything was fair game. I made this point clear to her. So when it was time to step up, place our order and go a little crazy, what did she challenge our server with?

“I’ll have a small chocolate soft serve in a regular cone.”

Bre’s Ice Creamery in East Hampstead is known for its amazing treats and its skilled dessert masters who craft mind-boggling creations that would leave both Ben and Jerry curled up under adjoining desks in fits of crippling self-doubt. And yet for some reason my kid opted for soft serve – a chilled food product masquerading as an underachieving Fudgesicle auditioning to play the understudy just in case ice cream calls in sick.

“You’re kidding me,” I said to her, shocked by her underwhelming order.

She looked a little surprised by my forceful objection, but we are not a family who takes our ice cream choices lightly. I look upon soft serve as the Velveeta of the ice cream world – cheap and bland and melty. This is not an indictment on this particular shop’s soft serve, of course. Nay, I instead passed judgment solely on my daughter’s decision-making skills. Her lack of refinement left me speechless, and thus I reacted with a father’s most potent parenting tool: dad jokes.

“Can you bring her a glass of skim milk and very gently whisper ‘chocolate’ into it?”

“We’ll have that napkin you used to wipe out the inside of that milkshake glass. On a plate.”

“How much is it for you to stare at us intently while thinking of cookie dough?”

“Can you grab a fist full of jimmies and then punch me in the face?”

“Do you have anything that tastes like envelope?”

She got my point, but refused to back down from her ill-advised decision. A small chocolate soft serve it was, then. And as much as I reject soft serve philosophically, I’m happy she remained confident in her choice (or gargantuan error depending on your perspective) and stood her ground. She has a strong sense of self and she knows what she wants and what she likes. Not bad for a young teenager – even if it did mean passing up a wheelbarrow of salted caramel chocolate pretzel. 

Bill Burke is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife and daughter who apparently hates good ice cream. He is also Managing Editor of Custom Publications for McLean Communications.

More Dad on Board columns by Bill Burke

Bringing up Baby Driver

Driving instruction is best left to the professionals – I’m out

Waiting for the insurrection

So far, so good on the teenage rebellion front

How to Dad (On Board)

A decade of Disney and diners with my daughter

Lost in translation

I need an app that turns ‘weird dad’ speak into something my teen understands

My wife and daughter left me – for a few days

Goodbye responsibilities, hello carefree bachelor lifestyle
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