Every night after dinner (and often before dinner is even over), Mazzy asks for dessert. She calls it a “special treat”. As in, “Can I have a special treat? Can I have a special treat? PLEASE MOM, CAN I HAVE A SPECIAL TREAT???”

Repeat ten more times, turning up the volume each time, to get the full effect.

I’m not sure how the words “special treat” replaced “dessert” but the main benefit is that “special treat” works at all times of day and not just after a big meal.

In other words, it is far from “special”.

I spend most of my time either refusing or giving in to Mazzy's repeated “special treat” requests, which means I rarely get the enjoyment of initiating them on my own. When I do say “fine” and hand over a cookie, I'm just thwarting a meltdown as opposed to rewarding good behavior with a smile.

I know, I know— food shouldn’t be used as a reward. Whatever. I don’t know one parent that doesn’t use the promise or denial of sweets as an integral part of their parenting technique.

Recently, I decided to take back control of dessert. If Mazzy was going to eat it, I wanted to reap the benefits.

The first step was preempting Mazzy’s treat request by promising one before dinner even started. This meant her treat was not dependent on finishing her chicken or her broccoli. I was committed. It was happening no matter what.

The next step was making the “special treat” truly SPECIAL. This wasn’t a simple after-dinner cookie on the couch— this was going to be a mommy daughter event.

On a Saturday night, after I put Harlow to bed, I left Mike at home to watch the baby while I took Mazzy out for an ice cream date.

There are a few ice cream shops within walking distance from our apartment but I had my eye on Davey’s— a new shop which makes homemade ice cream on site. Mazzy had stopped to admire their old school storefront earlier that week.

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Mike and I rarely go out with the kids after dark, so I think Mazzy found it thrilling just to walk through the city at night. The streets were lit up with colored lights and the sidewalks filled with bar and restaurant hoppers. Mazzy and I exchanged conspiring smiles as the sea of twenty-somethings parted for a mom and her little girl on their way to an ice cream shop. I could tell Mazzy felt like she was doing something a little forbidden. I felt it too. (After all, she hadn’t finished her broccoli.)

Mazzy shunned her usual chocolate choice and opted for vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, which reminded me of getting ice cream with my mother when I was a kid. I used to order chocolate all the time when I was little (it just seemed like it should be the better tasting flavor) and I distinctly remember the moment I realized I actually liked vanilla better.

I attributed Mazzy’s choice to her growing up. Maybe this means she’s now at an age when she can appreciate these moments, when mom “gives” instead of just “gives in”.

I'd like to make these Saturday night ice cream dates a tradition. A simple way to celebrate the every day and make Mazzy feel as "special" as her treat.


American Express is launching a year-long campaign to shine a spotlight on America’s #EveryDayMoments – from a night out with friends to quality time with your kids, with or without ice cream. 

In celebration of Mother’s Day and all things "mom," American Express is teaming up with Maroon 5, DryBar, InterContinental Times Square, Rent the Runway, and SoulCycle to create the “Epic EveryDay Getaway.” To enter, visit www.AmexEveryDayMoments.com and share a photo of your #EverydayMoment that celebrates the spirit of Mother’s Day, along with a caption.

For instance, if I was going to caption the photo up top, I'd say: "She'll eat her broccoli tomorrow".

This post was sponsored by American Express, but all thoughts, opinions and ice cream date ideas are my own.