Daddy Talk: Ice-Cold Lemonade
By Tim Krason
It wasn’t long into summer when our seven-year-old stepped into the front yard and declared: “It’s getting pretty hot. Just about time for a lemonade stand”. Given his headstrong nature, my wife and I just glanced at each other, knowing that soon we’d be struggling to catch up to him, trying to play a supporting role in his business.
Isaac started dragging out the card tables and chairs and mixing up lemonade. All of the kids joined in and told us that we wouldn’t have to help at all, that they would do it all themselves — except for when they couldn’t fit the tables through the front door, or when they couldn’t get them set up straight on the uneven ground in the yard, or when the pitchers of lemonade were too heavy to carry outside without spilling, or when they couldn’t figure out how to keep the ice cold, or when they didn’t have any change to use in their money bucket, or when they didn’t know how to spell certain words for their sign. Besides those things, they really could do it all themselves.
Our house sits on a corner lot, so the kids have learned to set up just beside the stop sign at the corner. Even calloused drivers sometimes become reluctant customers when they come to a stop and glance over to see a smiling three-year old waving and holding out a cup of lemonade. One memorable instance happened during a dry spell in sales when an enormous furniture delivery truck pulled into the intersection and parked there, temporarily blocking both streets. An intimidating man whose size rivaled the size of the truck itself emerged from the driver’s door with a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth and approached my seven-year-old at the table. Isaac, eyeing the man in fear and wonder, saw him throw a five-dollar bill on the table and say: “I’ll take three, little man”. Watching from a distance, I was charmed by the guy’s gentle demeanor at the lemonade stand since it seemed incongruent with his outside appearance. Isaac, upon watching the truck speed off, was simply ecstatic that the man had left a $2 tip.
Another recent customer was a business professor, who offered some good words about the power of an entrepreneurial spirit. I’m not sure the kids caught the significance, but they always feel the importance of being addressed by an adult. I’m convinced that receiving encouragement and direction from adults who are not in their family is often the most powerful means for getting kids to see themselves as independent members of their community.
Speaking of community, lemonade stands afford a phenomenal means for getting neighbors together. One Saturday, while we were taking out the table and chairs, a neighbor who we hadn’t spent much time with, was setting up a table saw in his garage to start working on a project. The front yard activities multiplied when his family filled up a kiddie pool in the front yard, so all the kids could alternate between working the lemonade stand and cooling off in the water. Whole families from down the street walked up to buy lemonade and to chat a bit.
Even though the lemonade stand always seems to require as much commitment from the parents as it does from the kids, it seems that the effort pays off in ways that are much more satisfying than simply bringing in some extra money for the kids’ piggy banks.