I believe in lemonade stands. They are the embodiment of children’s pluck and hope. They bring out the finest in adults as friends, neighbors and strangers open their wallets to give those children a little bit of money and a lot of support.
Yesterday, I helped my two sons and their friend make a lemonade stand. We picked the lemons from our tree, squeezed them, and stirred up a vat of strong, delicious, perfect-combo-of-sweet-and-tart lemonade. Each boy made a sign—my seven-year-old’s entrepreneurial spirit shone through as he decorated his with cartoon bubbles that read: “I’m very thirsty!” “You should try it!” “Yum! Good!”
Full of anticipation, we found a small table, posted our signs, and set up shop in front of our house. It was heart-warming to see the neighbors flocking round. Kathy, the single mother of two who lives across the street, spotted us from her front window, and came over immediately. Kevin and Melanie, driving to a concert with their daughters, stopped and enthusiastically bought four glasses to go. And there was Nancy, a neighbor with whom I had exchanged no more than friendly “hellos”— I learned more about her life in the ten minutes it took her to buy and sip her lemonade than I had in eight years of living three houses down.
Our friend Helen bought a fifty-cent glass of lemonade for three dollars; the boys’ eyes gleamed. And I was suddenly thrust back in time to my own childhood, remembering how thrilled my sister Lisa and I were when our mailman paid us ten cents for a glass of lemonade, when the price was only five. We couldn’t believe that he’d paid us double—what a score! We were rich.
As a child, that dime was such an affirmation of our project and hard work. As a mother, that dime is a representation of tremendous generosity and support.
Last summer I was visiting Lisa at her home in Denver. We were in her car, bombing home to our kids, late and pressed for time as usual. A few blocks from home, she swerved to the curb and parked the car. I looked at her questioningly, and then spotted the homemade sign and three tow-headed kids holding a pitcher. Lisa turned to me and said matter-of-factly, “You’ve always got to pull over for a lemonade stand.”
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