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The Kona Ice Lesson

Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
October 26, 2013

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The Kona Ice Lesson

My son is my teacher and I learn lessons from him in all types of situations. Sometimes these lessons appear in the most random of times. I thoroughly enjoy learning from him especially when I least expect them. I've said it before and I'll say it again, that is why I am the student and he is the teacher.

There is some sort of arrangement between the company that owns Kona Ice and the school systems in our county. Several times throughout the school year, the Kona Ice Company truck stops at several of the schools to server the kids these tasty treats. The Kona Ice Truck parks outside the schools for a period of time and serves the kids based on the arranged times. The kids get to choose between a small, medium or large scoop depending on the amount of money the parents furnished the child for Kona Ice Day. In addition to the ice, the Kona Ice Company has a large variety of syrups to place atop the mountain of ice held tightly in the kid's hands.

I've seen this syrup assortment first hand, and let me just say, "Wow" because the Kona Ice Company sure does go the extra mile when it comes to syrup choices. If you are not clear on what a Kona Ice actually is, the best description that I can come up with dates back to my childhood days. We knew this concoction simply as a "Snow Cone". Basically, it is a scope of shaved ice with a syrup topping saturating the ice.

Usually the shaved ice is placed into a cone like cup. I recall when I was a kid, we only had, like, three syrup choices and the person working would squirt your desired flavor atop the ice. I also remember thinking to myself that the person behind the truck counter never gave us enough syrup.

The Kona Ice Company added a little twist to this concept. The person behind the window hands the child the ice cone. Then the child turns to the side of the truck that has many flavors of syrup on tap. The child can choose as many of the syrup combinations as their heart desires or until the cone shaped cup overflows with syrup dripping onto the child's hand, which is a common sight mind you.

Flavors range from the common Cherry, Grape, and Strawberry that we all know to the strange and bizarre flavors like Tiger's Blood, Bahama Mama, Cotton Candy, Goobajooba and Wedding Cake to name a few.

My wife, my teacher and I were at the food market one evening shopping. Now my teacher is well behaved for the most part and during this shopping trek he apparently "pushed" the boundary a little too much. I did not see this incident since my wife sent me on a food scavenger hunt in hopes of getting out of the market much quicker. For the record, I didn't do so great. Together we ended up having to go back and replace what I grabbed for the "correct" item. She also mentioned that she wanted to talk to me when my teacher was not around. Her saying that is not uncommon because there are many times when she will make a comment to me about something that he does not need to hear, so I just figured it was one of those times. I knew we were getting close to the check-out line, but what I did not know was a lesson was about to be in session.

Upon getting into the checkout line, out of the blue, my wife recalled that the following day at school was Kona Ice Day. Luckily she remembered because we would not have had cash in hand otherwise, since using our check cards is the primary way we pay for, well, everything. It was then that she hinted that the topic of conversation she wanted to chat with me about was Kona Ice. Then she turned to the check-out lady.

My teacher was standing next to me and he tugged on my shirt and whispered the word "dad" motioning that he needed to tell me something. I was not in conversation at the time so I squatted down to his level to see what it was that he wanted.

"Dad, you don't need to get cash out for Kona Ice." He voiced.

"Why not?" I wondered since I knew he loved Kona Ice.

"No need too." He responded nonchalantly.

"If we don't get cash out, we won't have any to give you for Kona Ice tomorrow." I pointed out.

"I know, I understand." He uttered.

"I guess I don't understand. Don't you want Kona Ice tomorrow?" I asked.

"No, I just don't want any, Dad." He replied.

"O-o-o-o-k-a-y-y-y, why not? You love Kona Ice." I inquired.

"Well dad, Kona Ice is considered a treat when they come to our school and I don't always need it." He explained.

I know he noticed that I was looking at him with a weird look on my face because he immediately responded and expressed that, "no"; he had not gotten into trouble at school or with his teachers or anything like that.

"Are you sure?" I contested. Because you know that I will contact your teacher directly and find out. I could find out via the school website where each day the teachers from his school post positive or negative behavior marks for parents to monitor. But I figured that saying I would contact her directly made a bigger impact.

"Yes, dad, I'm sure." He cringed.

"I see." I countered knowing that there was a reason for all of this.

Take in mind that during the back and forth chit-chat that my teacher and I had, my wife did not hear any of this since she was engaged in a conversation with the check- out lady. I recall hearing them go down the 'ole hair path about highlights this and color that and I was immediately disengaged.

I really wanted to get to the bottom of why he really didn't want Kona Ice. He didn't want to get in trouble and he beated around the bush until I spoke up and expressed that I knew he had to tell me something very important and that he better do so quickly. He finally broke down and told me.

"I sorta misbehaved and gave mom a hard time. I really want Kona Ice, but I?m not going to get it because I don't deserve it because of what I did to mom." He spoke.

"I really appreciate your honesty and proud that you manned up to what you did." I expressed. I won't bore you with the details, but know that he and I continued to talk about that situation and why it was not a good choice to do what he did.

He concluded with the lesson plan by saying, "Just because the Kona Ice truck is there doesn't mean I have to always have it."

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: Just because something is available doesn't mean you always have to have it, even if it is a treat.

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Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke
Published September 28, 2010

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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