Friday, June 18, 2010

Lessons from a lemonade stand

This past Saturday was the first time since 2007 that we had nothing scheduled. No sports, no trips, no birthday parties, not even a chore -- which is not to say we didn't have plenty we could have been doing, mind you, just none on the calendar.

My children got up early with their spend-the-night company and by the time breakfast was cooked at 9, they were -- say it with me -- no, not "starving" -- bored. B-O-R-E-D. Especially the boys. And bored boys means one thing -- trouble.

After hearing banging and finally a huge crash upstairs (which I have still been afraid to investigate), I sent them outside to play in hopes of enjoying a little rest and relaxation.

It wasn't long before I heard a bang, bang, bang outside the house. What were they doing? Throwing things at the house. Why? They are boys, and they were B-O-R-E-D.

"I know," I said. "Why don't you have a lemonade stand?"

I must say I felt a little guilty since it was about 95 degrees and there wasn't a car in sight, but I figured it would keep them busy for a little while, and I could enjoy my free day with a little magazine reading AND teach them a little lesson in business while I was at it. See how clever I am?

I had just propped up with an issue of Sandra Lee's Semi-homemade magazine when my son said, "Do you have any poster board? We are having a contest with the girls (the boys' sisters, who happen to be best friends as well), and they have poster board, and we don't."

"Look in the closet," I said.

I hear a tumble and a crash and then a few minutes later, "I don't see any in here."

"Well, go up and tell your sister to find you some poster board."

He stomped upstairs, and she stomped downstairs, but, sure enough, a few minutes later, the two groups were coloring nicely on their separate signs, and I silently patted myself on the back again for having such a good idea.

About two seconds after this thought, I hear my son ask his friend, "How do you spell lemonade anyhow?"

"L-e-m-a-n, no, that's not right, l-a-m-e-n, no ...We can't even spell lemonade!" said his friend, exasperated. "I'm calling this contest."

Fortunately, the girls helped them and after some back and forth over whether the boys had forfeited, they held up two beautifully decorated posters advertising "Lemonade .50."

After much fanfare on filling the cooler with ice, finding the cups, swearing they had washed their hands and then making ten thousand trips in and out doing I don't know what, I could hear them shouting, "Lemonade!" I smiled. They were in business.

I grabbed my camera and headed out to quickly snap a picture before they went out of business.
As I got to the corner of the yard, what do I see? The boys had set up their station on the electrical box that was recently placed in our yard -- the one I tell him never to get near.

"Boys, I want to show you something," I said, fearing they weren't listening to my warnings.

"Look at this picture," I said, pointing to the crude drawing on the front of the box showing what appeared to be a lightning strike and a man falling backwards.

"Oh, I'd love to see you do that dance!" my son's friend said.

"Just don't put anything else on top of this, you hear?"

"Yes, ma'am."

They returned to shouting "Lemonade!" again at the top of their lungs.

About that time, their first customer drove up and told them to keep the change. I've always thought you can tell a lot about people who take the time to stop at kids' lemonade stands. My friend told me that the neighbor girl used to have them so often that finally a fellow neighbor said, "Can I just write you a check?"

Those are good neighbors. And so are the ones who bought lemonade that Saturday from my children. Funny how they are also the ones who buy wrapping paper in the fall and Girl Scout cookies in the winter. Thanks, you guys. I can tell them to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but nothing illustrates it further than stopping to buy a cup a lemonade -- even if it is so sour you have to pour it out when you get home.

So, at the end of the day, each had $1.25 in his pocket, a handful of lessons were learned, and, thanks to Kool-Aid, I didn't even have to squeeze any lemons. Next Saturday, however, I'll have a to-do list ready!

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