(This story has been translated into Czech by Sylva Ficová and can be read here.)

At the town’s lower market, my eldest son walks to the building where he will shortly practice the martial art karate. It does not make sense to drive home to the countryside, if I have to fetch him again in an hour’s time. My younger son winces and moans that he wants to go home. I ignore the whining and spontaneously decide to enter a student-managed restaurant. My younger son keeps his jacket on, because he complains of being cold. But he orders ice-cream. So does my daughter. Vanilla ice-cream. A tiny perfectly shaped portion with mint leaves on top. They each order something to drink. I order a glass of rosé. I have no cash so I ask the waitress if I may pay with the card. No. I leave my children to enjoy their delectable ice-cream. Younger son is quite happy now not to be at home. Due to technical problems the nearest cash machine refuses to give me cash. On my way out I meet my eldest son. He says there is no karate. How strange. He might have spent an hour outside at -10 ° C had we not met at this moment. I find out later that there was karate training, but that my son had not waited long enough. I point out the restaurant to him and tell him to join the other two, while I go and find another cash machine. I eventually come back with cash. Now I can relax. There is no hurry to go anywhere and I have all my children with me. The glass of rosé to me is like the acorn to Scrat. It is like drinking a flower rose. Its colour would soon tinge my cheeks and flush my veins. Much later of course, Darjeeling first flush would see us getting home safely. My eldest orders nachos with mountain cheese dip (he found the “mountain” part particularly intriguing). I order potato wedges and am glad that there is something on the menu I am able to eat. We are all at peace, chilled in the moment, relaxed, happy. My daughter, who is four years old, puts some sugar onto the table. She loves things sweet. She takes the straw from her glass and uses it to suck up the sugar crystals from the table surface, making patterns and then slowly sucking up all the patterns. I look at this and wonder if she has any idea how this looks like to the rest of the world. How different it is, and how the same it actually is. Don’t we all want something sweet.

Copyright © Quirina Roode-Gutzmer 2012. Al rights reserved.


24 thoughts on “Sweet

    • Absolutely, Leslie! Part of the fun is to have all of the sweet crystals. Sometimes “sweetness” is derived from eating ice-cream when you’re freezing cold, or from cheese that comes from a “mountain” or the blush on cheeks from a pink wine consumed. 🙂

  1. A lovely moment, Q ~ what could have been frustrating turned itself around to be a wonderful quality moment with your children. I have a tendency towards a sweet tooth as well 🙂

  2. A simple, family experience ~ yet a moment of divine revelation, when the very ‘whatness’ of a situation strokes inside your soul. A chaotic scene that, somehow, became a Joycean epiphany. Lovely story Quirina 🙂

  3. Thank you, Peter. The way you describe the opposite of irony as a Joycean epiphany is so beautiful. I have yet to read James Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.”

  4. It’s these simple observations…somehow, often with children, that bring such comfort and sweetness into our lives. Thank you for sharing, Q.

  5. smiles..what a day…. having three kids as well, i can relate to this…smiles
    and i just love the sugar pattern part..this is so cool when kids forget the world around them and just do what seems logical to them…oh we should do the same..nice

    • Thank you, Claudia. Somewhere on your blog I learned that you too have three children, and how dynamic you are. Yes indeed, lets suck up sweet patterns, nonchalant to the world. 🙂

  6. What a perfect moment this crystal imbiber/pattern-maker/pattern-imbiber is immersed in, inattentive to the swirls of normal ride-the-kids-from-activity-to-activity while things come out a bit crooked, in spite of how the good parent does her best. I can relate because it builds to the sugar crystal moment.

  7. I have to agree with Tim: “what a wonderful little slice of life”.
    The story reminded me of something I’ve experienced in the past when my daughter was much younger (she’s 17 now and these moments are rare now).
    I also like your crystal clear, laconic style – as if you were slowly taking pictures of the children (do you know the Czech word “momentka”?).
    These are the reasons I’ve decided to translate your story on my blog – http://blok.ficova.com/2012/01/31/prvni-z-12 – thank you again, Quirina, that you agreed 😉

    • Thank you, Sylva, for your comment. This was an occasion that did feel like it was going in slow-motion, so my mind could take pictures like you describe. A desperate desire overcame me to capture these images in my mind, because it felt like the whole moment was balanced on an edge, where it could have collapsed into chaos at any given minute. To me it is the greatest compliment when someone translates my work, because translation is the deepest most engaged kind of reading there is. Thank you.

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