Ice Cream and Other Tricks of the Mind


“You have to go to the principal’s office,” the teacher said. “Take your things. You’ve a doctor’s appointment.”

“Oh,” I said. “I do?” My arm was in a sling and a classmate picked up my books and put them in my bag. I couldn’t remember anything about a doctor’s appointment.

The teacher frowned. “Of course you do. Now, your father’s waiting.”

My dad signed me out and carried my bag. I was in the 5th grade and had sprained my arm roller skating. “Dad,” I said. “What doctor’s appointment?”

He laughed and opened the car door for me. We went to the mall and had ice cream sundaes at the drug store. Then we went for a walk along the lake and investigated houses under construction. Dad let me take a stone from one construction site home. There was no doctor’s appointment.

A few years ago I decided to let dad know I remembered that day when his second wife was gone and he thought of me. My dad never took a sick day or missed worked for any reason. Usually if I got sick I stayed home alone.

“Do you remember that, Dad?”

My dad frowned. “I did that?”

“Dad, that was one of my favorite days of my childhood.”

He shook his head. “Doesn’t sound like me.”

“But you did. You took me out of school and spent the whole day with me.”

“I don’t remember that,” he said. “I think you’re confused.”

Memory is a tricky thing. Ever go back to a book you read as a child and find the book was nothing like you remembered? Was it better or worse? Or do you avoid going back to those childhood loves lest you are disappointed?

What books did you love as a kid? Do you still love them today? Why did you love them then? Why love them now?

3 thoughts on “Ice Cream and Other Tricks of the Mind

  1. That’s a great memory, whether or not your dad remembers.

    I haven’t re-read many books, especially from my childhood. But I suppose that as my son grows up, I may encounter some of the books I loved as a child. I remember loving Madeline L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME. I can’t remember what it’s about now. Shoot…I can’t even remember the plots of the classics that I read in college! I have a short memory.

    I do have some children’s books from my childhood that I’m showing to Aidan now, and I still love them, except when I have to read them every night for one hundred nights in a row.

  2. Anne of the Island–no question. I love as Anne grows, her budding sense of self, her desire to be more than she is, her continual trials and her delightful descriptions, I always saw myself as Anne. In some ways, I still do.

  3. OMG!! I broke my arm in 5th grade whilst roller-skating, too!! I was skating backwards with a boy ‘cuz it was “girls'” choice and our skates got tangled and down I went. I broke 3 bones in my wrist. The boy was cute, but so not worth breaking my arm for his affections. 10 year old affections. Oy veh.

    Mmmm. favorite books as a kid. I Loved A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels and read and re-read them for years, then, a couple of years ago I re-read them again, and found them lacking in depth and rational plot lines. But I saw why I loved them. I completely identified with Meg’s eyeglass-wearing, weird, outcast status.

    I begged for the complete works of Mark Twain when I was 10 or 11. I was comforted by the simple pleasures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn slapping whitewash haphazardly on the fences and hanging by the river waiting for an adventure. I loved the Black Stallion, Anne of Green Gables, and all Nancy Drew books. OH, and Pippie Long-stocking – she was a hoot. Jane Eyre has been on my comfort shelf for 25 years. I re-read her eery couple of years and get something different out of her story each time. I think my advancing age gives me a heightened perspective of her situation.

    More than you ever wanted to know about my juvenile reading habits. I was Meg and didn’t have many friends at all. Folks seemed to know something was off with me and my family and I was ostracized. I didn’t care too much b/c books were my friends and the trees on which I leaned while I read were my support network. I think that’s when I developed my life-long philosophy of “I like people as a concept, not as a reality.”

    Yup, still weird. 🙂

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