I am still figuring out how to handle this situation. Last summer I told Ellie that it was a music truck and that seemed to satisfy her. No luck with that now that she is three. Lately, I have just been telling her that I don't have any money (which is almost always true). But that usually leads to crying and a request to go to the ATM.
I believe in having a treat from time to time. And we certainly don't lead a sugar-free lifestyle (as the employees at the corner gelato store can attest). But I do try to feed my kids real food and a giant Dora the Explorer ice cream bar just doesn't seem like a good idea. I also recognize that a three-year-old isn't going to understand why I let her get ice cream at the park today, but not tomorrow and every day after. And if Ellie gets ice cream, Brendan will attack hers until he gets his own. It's just not a road I want to go down.
So I have come up with two decent summer treat alternatives. I bought a star-shaped popsicle mold last year that has been great fun. We mix pureed watermelon and orange juice together, fill the molds and wait for them to freeze. A few hours later we are having orange-watermelon pops on our porch. I also freeze Stoneyfield Farms Organic YoKids Squeezers and a totally revolting tube of messy yogurt (who thought of that?) suddenly becomes a push-up pop.
Neither of these solutions helps with the ice cream truck at the park dilemma. But it seems to make the crying subside somewhat once we get home.