Root Beer Floating
by Kate Tvelia Athearn
There are times when a mom just has to be someone else for a while. Especially on muggy summer days when everyone is crabby from all the togetherness summertime imposes upon siblings. One cure I’ve found is to pretend I’m no longer The Mom. Instead, I am The Nanny. She’s so relaxed and full of energy and fun to be around. How easy it can be to just let the kids watch Tom & Jerry while they eat lunch and how much more fun it is to skip that lecture on the evils of TV violence. We laze in the pool. Laughing, splashing, and then, while they lie warming in the sun, wrapped in fluffy towels, I break out the root beer and ice cream I have hidden in the kitchen.
With frosty glasses in hand, the boys, wide-eyed and bouncy with sugar buzz anticipation, can’t believe their good fortune. It’s not just any soda, but root beer… and with ice cream on top! They trip over themselves to help, pouring and scooping with the intensity of CEOs negotiating a business deal.
When I play Nanny, there are no power struggles, and sibling rivalries cease to be. Deadlines, appointments, and emails fade away. And even if those things do exist, in some far-off world where some other responsible adult takes care of things like stocking the toilet paper and refilling prescriptions, the instant ice cream meets soda, those things disappear completely. Snorkel masks still perched atop their sun-bleached heads, zinc on their noses, my charges plunk enormous scoops of Old Fashioned Vanilla Bean into icy cold root beer and giggle maniacally at the foamy explosion. Glasses overflow.
In this, our parentless state, we are free to wipe our mouths on the clean towels. We can blow bubbles in our soda. We drink too fast, and the sticky sweet slush freezes our brains. We squinch up our eyes and stomp our feet. We all know Mommy-Me will return soon. But for now I slurp through my bendy straw, showing my kids (and myself) that you’re never too big, or too busy, or even too grouchy, to float.