Make yourself at home

Quality time with dad: soggy cones and no iPads

Father's Day is around the corner, and then it's gone.

  • Palm Coast Observer
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As Father’s Day approaches, I celebrate the dignity of fathers, the respect we all owe them, the honor and love we learn from them — and their willingness to eat soggy ice cream cones.

Or maybe that’s just me.

The other night, I was home alone with my two youngest children, 9-year-old Kennedy and 6-year-old Luke, so we debated for a while what to do. Too hot to go outside to play. Too boring to stay home. 

“Can we go to the iPad McDonald’s?” Luke begged.

For those who aren’t McDonald’s connoisseurs, you may not realize that, of the four in Palm Coast, the only McDonald’s featuring tablets loaded with video games is the one on Old Kings Road near Palm Coast Parkway.  

I do have some principles left. 

“No,” I said, “let’s spend some quality time together at McDonald’s, not play more electronics at McDonald’s.”

I tried not to take Luke’s continued protests as an insult.

When we arrived at a non-iPad McDonald’s (the horror!), Kennedy and I ordered McFlurries, and Luke, uncharacteristically, wanted an ice cream cone. 

Knowing that Luke often lets his ice cream melt everywhere and drip down his cheeks and wrists, I tried to talk him into a plain sundae instead. When he insisted, I decided to outsmart him and plop his vanilla cone upside down in a plastic cup so that he’d have to eat it with a spoon anyway.

He insisted that he wanted the true cone experience, so I compromised with him, scraping most of the ice cream into the cup, and then handing him the cone with a mound of vanilla only about 1 inch tall. (Don’t worry, he also got the cup.)

A few minutes later, he had licked off the ice cream but didn’t take a single bite out of the cone. Instead, he handed it to me, flat on top but with plenty of ice cream still stored inside the cone.

“You don’t want it?” I asked.

He shook his head, no.

Kennedy asked the obvious question, with big-sister attitude: “Luke, why did you get the cone if you don’t want to eat the cone?”

He simply smiled and shrugged. He handed me the cone.

It was soggy around the edges. I didn’t know why he didn’t want it, and I sensed that he didn’t know, either. He was just a little boy, unsure how to respond to an unfamiliar situation.

I didn’t want to throw the cone away, so after a moment’s hesitation, while he took a few bites of ice cream from his plastic cup, I ate away the upper wafery walls, exposing a new mound of unnaturally white vanilla.

Luke’s eyes suddenly got wide with surprise, and he asked for it back. I realized that maybe, just maybe, he had never ordered an ice cream cone before — or at least not for a very long time, probably because of my aversion to ice cream messes.

I laughed at his surprised expression and handed it to him, then watched him lick the rest of the ice cream away. Kennedy rolled her eyes but couldn’t help from smiling. 

It was a nothing moment: A kid gets a second chance at eating an ice cream cone, with renewed glee.

But for me, it wasn’t nothing; it was just the kind of quality time I needed: a series of smiles on the faces of my children. 

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there who eat soggy cones without asking too many questions.

What's your favorite Father's Day memory, as a father or a child? Email [email protected].



Brian McMillan

Brian McMillan and his wife, Hailey, bought the Observer in 2023. Before taking on his role as publisher, Brian was the editor from 2010 to 2022, winning numerous awards for his column writing, photography and journalism, from the Florida Press Association.

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