As I was driving the five-mile stretch between Wallace and Rose Hill, I heard a noise coming from the back seat of my 1991 red Geo Metro four-door sedan. I looked back, my eyes as big as saucers, to find two little kids covered in chocolate ice cream.
“What in blue blazes is going on back there?” was the first thing that came out of my mouth. I turned back around to keep one eye on the road and the other in the rearview mirror waiting for a response.
The blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 5-year-old girl tilted her head and looked back at me in the mirror. “Uncle Mark! It’s melting too fast. What do we do?” That was my niece Ashley West with her almost 3-year-old brother, Michael, next to her.
I just rolled my eyes while gyrating my head in a circular motion. “Oh for crying out loud!” Shoving the last bit of an ice cream cone in my mouth, I reached between the bucket seats. “OK, hand it over.”
The next thing I heard was a ear popping scream as if someone was being murdered or something. The car jerked left, then right. “What in the world? Don’t do that! You almost made me wreck the car. What’s the matter?”
Little Miss Mouth stated that she wanted her ice cream and didn’t want to give it to me. I informed her that I couldn’t make it stop melting unless she gave it to me for a moment. “Geez Louise! Don’t have a cow. I’m gonna give it right back.”
I was beginning to regret my decision to stop at Hardee’s for ice cream cones with my niece and nephew after picking up coloring books and crayons at Walmart. I never dreamed this would turn into a full-blown fiasco.
Of course, I guess I didn’t think it through very well. Giving a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old ice cream cones in the back seat of my car wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had.
Next time — if there was a next time — we would definitely be going inside the restaurant to have our afternoon delight. All I could think about was their mother, my sister Kathleen, was going to kill me for giving them the frozen dessert before dinner.
And now with the evidence all over their clothes, I couldn’t exactly hide the fact of what they were eating. Even if they didn’t get any ice cream on their clothes, Miss Betty Big Mouth would have told on me anyway.
I really needed to teach my niece the art of “when to keep your trap shut.”
As I was furiously licking Ashley’s ice cream now dripping down the sides of the cone, I heard another boisterous outburst coming from the rear of my vehicle. I bet you’ll never guess who was making all the commotion?
“Ashley Michele West,” I glared at her through the rear view mirror. “If you don’t stop that right now. I will pull this car over and give you something to scream about.”
I shoved her ice cream cone straight in my eye when she screamed. I had to open the glove compartment to search for a napkin. It’s a wonder we made it home in one piece and didn’t land in a ditch somewhere.
I quickly found out the reason why my niece let out another blood curdling scream. Michael, who was being awfully quiet, dumped his ice cream out of the cone and into his lap.
I was about ready to have a coronary. My little chubby faced nephew peered his head from behind my seat so I could see his chocolate covered face in the rear view mirror.
“Is your sister serious?” My eyes were most likely ready to pop out of my head. “Did you dump your ice cream in your lap?” He just nodded his head. It looked like he was about to tear up. “It’s okay, Bubba. Don’t cry.”
I asked Ashley to pick up the ice cream and put it back on top of the cone. Ignoring her protests, I threw several napkins in the back seat. How does soft serve ice cream even fall out of a cone? I didn’t want to know.
As we neared the town limits of Rose Hill, my niece calmly spoke my name. “Very good. You didn’t scream this time. You get an A+ for effort.“ That was the school teacher in me coming out. “What is it this time, sweetie?
Ashley enlightened me to the fact that Michael, who was already covered in ice cream, now had to go potty. I breathed a sigh of exasperation as I tried to think. We were still a couple miles from the house.
The Scotchman, a convenient store/gas station, was coming up on the left. Bazooka Video was attached to the end of the building where I just happened to work. I knew there was a bathroom inside.
I swerved the car as we careened into the parking lot and came to an abrupt stop in from of the video store entrance.
Springing from my car, I grabbed Michael out of the back seat and hurried into the video store and past the security gate. Once in the bathroom, I lifted the toilet seat and helped him with his britches.
I was standing there looking up at the ceiling waiting for him to go and out comes another blood curdling scream. I jumped to high heaven and just glared at my image in the mirror above the sink.
I turned around fully expecting to see Ashley standing there. But no, I looked down and realized it was Michael. He had slammed the toilet seat down on his private parts.
“Why did you do that?” He just shrugged his shoulders. Making sure he finished his business, I checked to make sure he was OK. In addition, I tried to explain that he was going to be in some pain for awhile and emphatically told him not to slam the toilet seat anymore.
After dealing with all of this, I just couldn’t wait to get home so my sister could lecture me on the reasons why I should not give her children sweets before dinner.
Mark S. Price is a former city government/county education reporter for The Sampson Independent. He currently resides in Clinton.