Every summer when I was a kid, the neighborhood girls—which consisted of Caitlin, Amy, and myself—were always scheming up some sort of business. One year there was a magic show, which starred my brother Josh, his buddy Seamus, and me and the girls wearing leotards cast off from Amy’s former dance recitals. What nice neighbors and parents we all had—that they would actually come and sit on the yard to the side of my house and watch our last minute production. Oh, and pay us for it, too.
Though I can’t remember any particular lemonade stands, I’m sure we had many. And I just want to thank everyone who bought something from us.
I think anyone who buys crappy lemonade from a sticky nine-year-old will get a wing added to their mansion in heaven. If anyone thinks this country has lost its humanity, then I say, look around at all the lemonade stands. How many people, solely for the purpose of doing a good deed, plunk down their money, stare into little eager faces, shove any germaphobic tendencies aside, and gulp down a paper cup full of lukewarm Kool-Aid?
That, my friends, is altruism.
My kids have wanted to have their own lemonade stand since . . . oh, since they were born. But I was always a chicken about it. We either didn’t know our neighbors well, or the street was too busy, or who knows what else? There were always excuses. Apparently, the phrase “err on the side of caution” is tattooed on my prefrontal cortex. I just can’t over the idea that life isn’t as safe as it was for me and the neighborhood girls when we were peddling Girl Scout cookies. So I always hesitate.
A couple years ago, I broke down and let them have a lemonade stand. Because of our location, they had exactly zero customers. So when they started asking me to have one this year, I cringed, not only at the thought of potential dangers, no matter how unlikely, but at the situation most likely: another lesson in fruitless enterprise.
But, as luck would have it, my kids’ charter school got out for summer one day before the kids at the elementary school down the street. That meant that for one brief window of time our house would be passed by hundreds of carefree children. I figured if my kids were going to take a good shot at capitalism, then this was it.
The kids got up early that day and went right to work . . . well, washed their hands first, and then went to work: squeezing lemons, making candies, drawing signs. We served strawberry lemonade, my daughter’s special candy recipe, and monkey bread muffins. They charged 50 cents per item. Within an hour of when school let out, they sold out of nearly everything.
Of course, I was there supervising. Like I said, I tend to be cautious. But it was a happy experience all around. The kids got to do something fun, learn a little about business, learn a little about service (they donated their money to a good cause), and learn a little about cooking. Because we all worked on the food together, I think most people didn’t feel they had to put their affairs in order before they took a sip of the lemonade. It was a bright, perfect, breezy day. One I hope the kids will remember all their lives.
If you’d like our recipes . . . the monkey bread muffins I posted a few months ago sold out the quickest. It may have been the last day of school, but the wind that day was quite chilly, and people welcomed something warm and cinnamony.
We’ll post the lemonade and the bon-bons soon.
What about you? Did you ever have lemonade stands when you were kids? Do you like to let your kids have them? Are are you a worrier like me?