In Praise Of Gelato. And What It Does.

by Becky on May 18, 2013

in Food, Travel

Being inveterate foodies, we have our little haunts.  The petals and I love a little place on the edge of Born.  On another occasion, I’ll show it to you.  For now, I’ll give you a peek at what really good gelato does to a couple of girls I know.

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

It’s all settled, then: gelato turns you into a supremely happy goofball, right alongside the other goofball who shares your birthday, your clothes, your hair nonsense, your Burt’s Bees, your love of the European ephemera you dream of repurposing for a DIY, etcetera, etcetera.


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Sometimes, when I was a teenager, I just wanted to be a kid again, so that I could play play play with abandon–laugh, shout, be so absurdly silly I’d wear myself right out, like in the good old days.  And no one would care.  

When you were little, life was simple.  Eat.  Sleep.  Play.  Repeat.  (And finish a homework packet or two, under duress.)  Teenagehood can be cool, yeah.  But bottom line, sometimes you just want, for a minute or two, not to have to act your age.

So how does a mom enable these “little kid” moments, where laughter is king and silliness holds sway? She stages them. Honest. Then laughs as hard as her children.

It can get complicated, the business of being a teenager. To decompress, sometimes you just need a teeter-totter.

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Do you have a pair of kids who run hot and cold?  Sometimes they’re famous friends and partners in crime (eating bowls of cereal together up on top of the kitchen soffits), sometimes they’re Montagues and Capulets, if you take my meaning.


One day, years ago, when I was thinking about these two children and wondering how to grow their love, a small, knowing voice inside me said something like this:  “Pair them up doing what they do well together.”  Hard to translate.  If you have your own “knowing” (a handy thing to dial into, when you can manage to quiet your mind enough), you know that while the meaning of those nuggets of wisdom is perfectly clear to you, it can be hard to put into words that mean anything to anyone else.

Anyway.  I tried to do that.  Tried to create moments of “collision,” where these two could come together in seemingly random ways to be silly and have fun and therefore decide (hopefully) that fun just happened better with a sibling alonside you.  Sometimes it worked.  Sometimes it didn’t.  Their temperaments were so different.  One was often his own best company and thus got impatient when others wanted onto the merry-go-round, as it were.  The other did want company, especially his, and got her feelings bruised when he was in a mood.

There were tears, sure.  But when it all worked . . . wow.  They were meant to be friends, these two.  I knew it.   “They’ll be okay,” promised that voice inside me.



Eventually, the younger one decided she really liked who she was and had no particular desire to apologize for it.  Fiercely persistent, she threw herself into her school work, her talents, her friendships, and, predictably, she reaped the rewards of her hard work.  One day, the older one said to me with a bewildered shake of the head, “How does she do it?”  And I smiled, because I knew what he meant.  When I pressed him to explain, he got more specific.  She did hard things, he said.  And she did them surprisingly well.

Now Mr. Older is gone, off in another corner of the world, working hard himself and thinking, occasionally (his letters suggest as much), about the younger sibling he has come to value deeply.  Turns out that one of the things each treasures most about the other is the very particular brand of silliness that defines so many of their moments together.


They did the work of getting acquainted as friends.  They get to have the fun. And I get to be reminded, as I sift through these photos of our European adventures of last summer, that I ought to relax more, secure in the fact that my own knowing had it right all along:  they laugh hardest when they’re together.

(In these photos:  The Two, embracing their inner nerds in Nuremberg, Germany.)

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Street Performers_5713

Down on the Ramblas, in the old part of town, street performers and artists abound. Last Saturday, we collided with some of the Halloween sort. The spectacle particularly impressed our youngest (the caboose!), who often goes by the nickname Goose. I was honestly blown away by the imagination and effort that went into these costumes and the absolute stillness their display demanded. Some of these guys–though there was a woman or two in the mix–seemed hardly to be breathing. And all of them woould remain completely still until you put a centavo or two in their bucket. Then, totally in character, they would spring to life, dazzling the crowd, then falling silent again. Quite a show, and highly entertaining to our nine-year-old, who, as he wants to be an inventor, really liked the tableau of Thomas Edison.

Street Performers_5708

Street Performers_5707
But the Devil was impressive, too. His eyes . . . freaky! You’ve never seen anything like this! I was half afraid he was going to spirit Goose away to some Halloween netherworld and turn him into a Boy Devil.

The Devil_5697

Oh, wait! He’s already a boy devil. (Wink wink.) Happy Halloween!

The Devil_5698


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My youngest adores his older sisters. Mostly. And, like all “caboose” children, he sometimes finds the girls exasperating, like when they try to tell him his business. Or kiss his face so much he worries his dignity has been permanently compromised. That’s the beauty of getting out of the house. Out of town. Out of the country, even! In a new venue, all that sister love translates into the most miraculous forms of distraction.

On the coast of the Mediterranean: combing the sand for beach glass and rocks to add to a special collection. Brilliant.


Especially if you’re a boy who loves rocks of every kind, and more especially if you’re a boy with a sister who will stay in the sand with you until the tide comes up or the light dies or the world ends, whichever happens first. Having an older sibling of the female variety who loves to hunt for objects both small and beautiful–what a boon!


And older sisters are the perfect people to show off to, aren’t they? So you think you can skip a rock the size of a cell phone all the way to Greece, do you? But whether you can or can’t isn’t the point. The point is that two sisters will watch . . . and watch. And when you decide to downshift to smaller rocks (for the sake of the beach, of course, since we wouldn’t want to empty it of all cell-phone-size rocks, now would we?) and surprise!–the little ones SKIP!–it’s the big sisters who holler and cheer like you’ve just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.


Will the world ever be as easy to conquer as it was the day your teenage sisters made you feel like The Master of Costa Brava? Hooray for them for all the times they hugged you so tight they nearly squeezed the life out of you. Their devotion will come in mighty handy someday, when the presence in your life of two good women may likewise attract the presence of others.


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