Although this happened many years ago, we still laugh every time we recall the story, as we did again last weekend…
Lauren’s first grade class had an end-of-the-year party on the last day of school. One of the traditions was having ice cream for the kids, and Susan and another mom volunteered to help out. “We could do something like popsicles,” Susan suggested. “That’d be simple and easy.”
The other mom was more enthusiastic. “Let’s not just serve ice cream to the kids. Let’s have them make it! That would be more memorable and fun for them.” The moms had heard about making ice cream in coffee cans, which sounded easy. It’s just ingredients sealed inside a smaller container and rolling around in a larger one full of ice and rock salt. They decided that zip-lock bags could accomplish the same thing and eliminate the need to round up that many coffee cans. Good thinking.
Doubling the zip-lock bags, the outer ones were filled with ice and rock salt, and gallons and gallons of half-and-half were poured into the inner bags with sugar and vanilla. The kids were seated at their tables and one sealed bag was given to each of them. No one was left out, and every kid was eager to make his or her own delicious little batch of ice cream.
The moms demonstrated how to hold a bag and how to shake it up and down. Nothing too complicated. They explained that when the ice cream was ready, the kids could pour it into bowls and eat it. OK, kids, start shaking your bags! Before you know it, we’ll have ice cream.
So much activity! Isn’t this fun? Burn off some of that excess energy. Get their minds off being out of school. But then kids’ hands started to get cold. Some of the outer bags leaked and salty ice water ran down the kids’ arms. And despite considerable shaking, the ingredients only got about as thick as tomato soup.
“My arms are getting tired.” “How much longer do we have to do this?” The activity was quickly losing its intended appeal. Then about six bags burst open, disgorging thin, cold ice cream and ice water in every direction. Kids were crying. They were wet and cold from the ice cream eruptions, and salt water was stinging their skin. When the bell rang, all of a sudden kids were out the door heading for their buses. What about that ice cream they were supposed to get? Hey, feel free to lick some up on your way out. Wow – that’s a fun way to end the school year.
Now it was time to start mopping up the gallons of ice water and soupy ice cream that covered the tables, chairs, and floor. There were no real towels, only those non-absorbent school paper towels that pushed the mess around. Just the help the teacher was looking for, especially on the last day of school. Well, one of the hoped-for goals was realized: the kids weren’t likely to forget this party.
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Lessons for the grownups:
Enthusiasm is overrated. The word is derived from the Greek “en theism” (in God). It means literally “to be inspired by or possessed by a divine presence.” I greatly appreciate the many gifts that come to us through inspiration, but enthusiasm should probably be taken with a few grains of [rock] salt.
Volunteers are awesome, but you don’t always get the help you need.
Sometimes it’s a good thing when ‘simple’ trumps ‘memorable.’ The wise person is the one who can tell which is which ahead of time.
Lessons for the kids:
Grownups don’t always know what they’re doing. This is why learning
1) how to forgive, and 2) the importance of a good sense of humor is essential, even in first grade.