Suzy’s random pickup truck dream= attained.

Remember last week when I was talking about bucket lists and how unattainable they are? Let me tell you a little bit about my daughter Susannah.

So, Zu is- what we call in the business- a cheerful soul. She loves things. Everything. Once, after being asked about personal preferences, Nora attempted to insult her by scornfully saying how everything was Zu’s favorite.

“It sure is!” was the heartfelt response.

So. Bucket lists. Nora and I had created intensely detailed items such as “head to the nature preserve and fill two digital cameras with pictures of nature” and “read a new chapter book aloud every two days while eating snacks.” And you know what? We’ve done an okay job on the close-to-home ones. But while Nora and I kept adding items willy-nilly, crossing them off and editing them as the need arose, Susannah had only one summertime heart’s desire.

She wanted to visit a fruit truck and buy something.

Now, we live in a major city. Our neighborhood is overflowing with incredible grocery stores, superbly cheap bodegas, and even a posh farmer’s market. The “fruit trucks” are pickups full of (most likely) Costco-purchased berries, Aldi-purchased mangoes, and Jewel-purchased peaches. Do I think the owners of these trucks came by their produce legally? …Sure. Do I think they loaded up the truck at 4am from their organic Wisconsin farm to hawk their goods on Montrose Avenue? Not a chance.

But we see these pickup truck vendors on our way to and from school, as we run errands, and as we return home each night. Every single time, Susannah will press her face to the window (or crane her neck around the side of the stroller) with a look of quiet longing.

“Doesn’t that just look great?”

It became such a thing that Nora and I began to joke that every fruit truck was actually in Suzy’s employ.

“Look,” we’d say. “Is that one of your fruit trucks?”

“It is! Hello my trucks! Can we stop?”


And so on. The other night, P.J. and I talked about how sometimes I was an utter failure as a mother (it was more of a situation where I face-planted into my own tears while he patted my shoulder and offered me more snacks), but then he said something that made a ridiculous amount of sense.

“You should totally take Suzy to one of the fruit trucks.”

I MEAN, WHY THE HECK NOT?! In terms of the overextending (to me) stuff I do on a daily basis, this wouldn’t even crack the top 17. Walk half a block, give Zu a dollar, let her grab fruit we’d have to eat really, really quickly, and then go home in time to fire up Netflix? What the hell was wrong with me? I’d committed myself to laundry sorting more complicated than this particular endeavor.

So the next day, after naps (mine) and snacks (mine), I grabbed the double stroller and informed the kids that we’d be taking a surprise walk. It was easily 90 degrees in the (humid) shade, so this was met with a tiny bit of politely stated resistance. But I was excited about my whimsy so I politely pushed back.

Ten minutes later, a few of us had finished crying and buckled ourselves into the stroller. We began to walk down the block- no sign of the truck that was usually there. I began to panic, wondering if this was yet another situation like last week’s clusterjunk. We kept walking.

“Isn’t this great? Taking an afternoon walk (in the blazing heat)?”

Suzy, remembering herself and bucking up after her momentary tantrum, cheerfully agreed. “We’re exploring!”

We “explored” for another block, and I prayed that this wasn’t the shortest-lived failure of an expedition that Susannah didn’t even know was a potential failure. But there was one thousand percent a fruit truck by Kimball and Montrose. And while the wares weren’t the well-stocked freshness of, say, 8 a.m., their 4 p.m. truck-full wasn’t actually all that anemic.

As we pulled up next to the truck, Susannah became positively euphoric. “Mom! A fruit truck!”

“Want to go buy something, kiddo?”

The look she gave me, I’m gonna be totally honest, pretty much made me feel like a jerk. Because I handed her a dollar and she beamed like the fricking sun. She ran up to the woman leaning against the truck and, thrilled, asked for some blackberries. The gal handed her a Dole carton of blackberries which, you know, may or may not have contained blackberries from any sort of Dole factory. (Meanwhile, Nora benevolently smiled at Suzy like- ah, kids- and Jasper scowled over at me as if to suggest that no one had inquired as to his bucket list for the summertime.)

Back in the stroller, Susannah cradled the carton of blackberries like they were the smushed, slightly warm Holy Grail. And maybe to a three year-old they were. At dinner, she carefully places berries on each person’s plate, letting them know that she was sharing her berries. Because they were hers. She went to a fruit truck!


And she went to bed that night, stoked beyond belief that her dream had been attained. And I went to bed feeling like, even when I was being an awesome parent, I was still being kind of a crappy parent.

Because, up until that day, my child’s life goal had been to visit a pickup truck in Albany Park, Chicago. And, until the day that I anted up a dollar and walked an eighth of a mile from my stoop, I neither encouraged nor acknowledged this goal (outside of light mockery). So even the victory of being a bizarrely, sporadically permissive mother still felt a little lukewarm insofar as pickup truck outings go. But maybe I need to ease up a little on myself.

Besides, the berries were totally delicious.



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