Special needs

Beyond Vanilla

By Amy

We’re in Elora, Ontario at an ice cream shop. Hey--we’ve earned it. We’ve just spent 2 hours hiking on paths overlooking the gorge in the conservation area.

In the cafe, we’re stunned by a huge sign listing 52 flavours of ice cream. FIFTY-TWO! That’s not counting the additional flavours of frozen yogurt, soft-serve ice cream and smoothies. That’s probably about 20 more choices. Heavenly.

“What flavour do you want, Tal,” I ask.

Immediately she answers, “Vanilla.”

I laugh. “Tal, they have 52 flavours. I know you like some of them. How about cookies and cream? Or cookie dough?”

Talia lights up: “Ok--cookie dough!”

Somehow, this ice cream adventure gets me thinking about a parenting dilemma. Often I’m balancing letting Talia make her own choices and nudging her to try new things. I never stop trying to expand her world.

Our kids deserve a life of countless flavours. Of limitless ways to learn, to live and to have fun. A life of real choices. And they can only make real choices when they’ve tried a rich range of experiences. If only helping your kid have a life was as easy as ordering a cone in an ice cream shop.

Sure--vanilla is a perfectly delicious choice. But when life offers you 52 flavours, it’s time to break outside the ice cream carton. To take a risk. And to see what happens next.

This article was originally published on Sep 12, 2011

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