Root Beer Floats for Dinner

It’s still 90 degrees and it’s 11 p.m. in Massachusetts. This is wrong on so many levels.

When I first met my husband Eric, he introduced me to a marvelous piece of his family’s history, a tradition his mother started when he was little. If it was too hot to cook dinner, Mom would make root beer floats for everyone. And serve them with a cold salad, because of nutrition or something. One night in our first summer together, we decided this was a good thing to continue in our little soon to be family, and thus the Root Beer Float kind of day was brought to another generation.

My son doesn’t like root beer floats, so it’s possible that in this house, it will pass when we do. However, my nieces and nephews may carry it on with them, so there’s that.

Root beer is my favorite soda, with birch beer being my second favorite and ginger ale being third. I don’t think I’ve tried making a float with birch beer, but I do remember when I was little and our parents had just bought the house that my dad used to get Knight Club Soda delivered to the house (oh how swanky!) and we would make floats with all the different kinds of flavors he would order – grape, orange, fruit punch, lemon-lime, pineapple, half and half, cola, and cream soda. The only two I thought were gross was the half and half and the cola floats. I still love grape floats or orange floats. Cream soda floats are vanilla with more bubbly vanilla, and I loved how creamy they were.

I think back on that time, and I remember those floats were a treat. We had them maybe once or twice all summer. Soda was just not a thing that was kept around the house for kids. The soda was for my Dad. Kool-aid and lemonade mix were what we kids were supposed to drink. Or water, if we didn’t want those two choices. We were more likely to be allowed an ice cream cone than a glass of soda.

Now I’m in my 50’s, and it took me almost a year to stop drinking soda every day. I still drank bubbly water, but no soda – sugared or sugar-free. I stopped drinking all kinds of drinks with added sugar – no iced teas, no Arnold Palmers, no sports drinks, no iced coffees. I took my iced tea as I took my hot tea, unsweetened. I learned to drink my coffee black, or with cream only. And now I look at the things I said I’d do when I was a kid – those things we say when the adults won’t let us overindulge in something because we are convinced they are just keeping it for themselves.

When I grow up I’m going to eat ice cream for every meal! (did that once) I will eat all the candy I want! (and now I have 7 crowns and a partial denture) I can make and eat cookies whenever I want! (and now I’m 125 pounds overweight and pre-diabetic) I will drink all the soda I want! (and that contributed to the weight gain and the dental decay) We just don’t know when we are children that our parents put those limits on us for a reason. When our parents don’t model good behaviors around those limits, we learn that when we are grown up we don’t have to give up treats, we don’t have to share with anyone.

We just don’t see the consequences until they happen to us.