#18: Buy a glass of lemonade from a kid’s stand

Driving home from yoga class, I saw four children between the ages of 5 and 10 near the side of the road, holding signs and jumping around like lunatics. As soon as they saw a car approach, their energy intensified even more: They pointed to a nearby card table sporting a pitcher of juice and some disposable cups, and began screaming, “Pull over! Pull over! Pull over! Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!!!” in very whiny, incredibly annoying voices.

Ugh. This is precisely why I don’t stop at children’s lemonade stands – I don’t want to reward kids for obnoxious behavior. I only see these types of operations a few times a year, so I’m not perpetually bothered by them (which is nice); but admittedly, every time I drive by one without stopping, I kind of feel like a bitch. I know it would mean a lot to the kids to have a stranger pull over and give their modest start-up venture a little business, and it would only cost me a few minutes and a few coins (both of which I can afford); and yet, for years I have chosen to turn my head, ignore the young pleading faces begging for attention, push down my own feelings of guilt for not opening my heart to the situation before me, and keep my foot solidly on the gas pedal, hoping that I can avoid such encounters in the future. They feel like no-win situations for me.

So why put “Buy a glass of lemonade from a kid’s stand” on my 101 list at all? Well, I figured that if I participated in this activity just once, I would either learn: 1) the satisfaction that I received from helping kids feel good would outweigh my concern/sentiment that I was supporting their undesirable behaviors, or 2) exactly the opposite (i.e., acknowledging kids in this state only encourages them to be manic and only makes me feel annoyed) – in which case, I could let go of any guilt that might surface when I inevitably pass by future stands, and drive on with a clear conscience and light heart.

As I drew closer to today’s roadside enterprise, I saw that the children’s signs were different from ones usually taped to a homemade stand. While most kids’ signs read something like, “Lemonade 25¢”, these signs said, “Please donate to help…” – but I had driven by the kids before I could process the full context of their signs. However, just before I completely passed the center of the activity, I saw a dad standing next to one of the kids. This both intrigued and impressed me (usually lemonade stands in the neighborhood are without any adult supervision) – so I decided that this would be the lemonade stand that would make my 101 list.

I turned onto the next available side street and circled back to the kids’ stand. As I slowed my car, one of the girls screamed, “Someone’s stopping!!”, and two boys who had been sitting on the grass sprung to their feet. Crossing the street to approach the table, a second girl started loudly explaining to me, “Wearesellinglemonadetoraisemoneyforkidswithcancerwannahavesome??!!”, then darted back to the road to try and snag more prospects before I could give an answer. Unphased, I continued walking towards the stand, where the dad patiently stood nearby and smiled kindly at me. He greeted me with a ‘good morning’, then said, “Thanks for stopping. We’re collecting money for a nonprofit that helps pay medical bills for families who have children with cancer.” He nodded toward a 9-year-old girl who was standing near the side of the road, holding a sign. “My daughter is participating in a triathlon next month, and she’s working to raise money to meet her fundraising goal before she completes the event. If you’d like to donate any money, feel free to put it in the piggy bank,” he ended, pointing to a white porcelain pig sitting in the middle of the table.

A 9-year-old completing a triathlon to raise money for kids with cancer? I was *incredibly* impressed. I asked the dad, “Wow, a triathlon? That’s really something! How far will she go?”

He nonchalantly replied, “Oh, she’ll swim 100 yards in a lake, then bike for 3 miles, then run for half a mile. She did it last year, and loved it.” The dad then turned his attention to a little boy who was standing by my side, and said encouragingly, “Ask the lady what she would like.”

As I noticed the 5-year-old boy for the first time, he found his voice and quietly asked, “Which one do you want?”, holding a small chocolate chip cookie in one hand, and a small chocolate cookie in the other.

I looked him in the eye, and responded, “Hmm, I don’t know. Which one do you think is good?” Delighted that an adult was interested in his opinion, his eyes lit up as he quietly answered, “This one,” holding the chocolate cookie slightly ahead of the chocolate chip one. “Perfect,” I replied, “then that’s the one I’ll have. Thank you!” As I took the tiny cookie from his little hand, the boy smiled – then scampered off to the road, eager to serve another prospective customer.

I grinned, then dug into my purse to find some money. As I was working to take some bills from my wallet, a trying-to-be-helpful-but-mostly-bossy 8-year-old girl thrust a small white styrofoam cup at me, half-filled with pink liquid, and said, “Don’t forget your lemonade!!” I smiled at her, and said, “Ah, yes – thank you!” I accepted the cup, stuffed some money into the piggy bank, secured my wallet back into my purse, and prepared to walk back to my car. Before I left, I asked the dad if I could take a few pictures of the stand, and he said sure, of course. After I snapped a few images, I pulled my car key from my pocket and turned to walk away. The dad caught my eye and discreetly said, “Hey – thanks for stopping.” I gave him a grin and a knowing nod, and made my way back to my vehicle.

At home, I ate the tiny cookie with my lunch. It was almost like a brownie: super soft on the inside (almost under-baked, but not quite), yet still had a bit of a crispy crust on the outside. It was really quite tasty – and it paired perfectly with the slightly-tart/slightly-sweet pink lemonade I sipped from the white styrofoam cup. It wasn’t the fanciest dessert I have ever consumed – but it was one that made me feel incredibly satisfied and content from a place deep inside, a place that extended well beyond my stomach.

From this experience, I learned that no matter how late I am to an appointment or no matter how much spare change I might have on hand, I should always stop at an available lemonade stand and support a child’s endeavors. Always make the effort. Always support others. I’ll never know what I’m missing if I don’t – but it might be something big. Something amazing. Something that connects me to the beauty of being truly alive.

Stef

P.S. Some pictures from my lemonade stand experience:

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About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
This entry was posted in 101 in 1001, day zero project, postaday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to #18: Buy a glass of lemonade from a kid’s stand

  1. Pingback: Day 102 « Three Daily Delights

  2. barb19 says:

    I’m glad you stopped at that lemonade stand, and interesting to see the effect it had on you. This was a great write Stef – from the heart, and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for taking the time to share here.

    Like

  3. I love your adventures Stef. You listened to your heart and not only got to cross something off of your list but participated in a wonderful event. It doesn’t get much better than that!

    Like

  4. livingvoraciously says:

    Writing straight from the heart 🙂 great read 🙂

    Like

  5. I think kids are wonderful sales people. They’re either super excited and passionate about what they’re selling, or they’re really annoying. Either way, you want to buy their stuff to calm them down or shut them up. And you got to do something good out of this experience, so that was nice.

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    • Stef says:

      I think there is a difference between being an effective sales person, and being an outright annoyance. A good sales person is focused on the other person, not on their own wants/needs. So to me, clamoring children are not good exactly good sales people, but are more in need of some discipline. Just my $.02 (says the woman who has no kids). 😉 But yes, I did get to help benefit a variety of individuals with this exchange, so that was very nice, indeed.

      Like

  6. Touch2Touch says:

    Your instincts (whether kicking and screaming or not) didn’t lead you astray. They almost never do. A wonderful and inspirational read.

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    • Stef says:

      More and more, I’m learning to trust my gut and my heart (in the very real, literal, visceral sense). Life just seems to work better when I do. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      Like

  7. Christine says:

    What a fun story! I have avoided lemonade stands to date, but I may need to rethink that policy!

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    • Stef says:

      I totally hear you on the avoidance tendency. But it may be worth your while to stop by one, should the opportunity present itself naturally…

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  8. Aw, this made me feel all warm and fuzzy! You perfectly captured the internal “will I/won’t I” struggle that plagues us all in these situations. But our instincts rarely lead us astray, and a kindness is rarely wasted. 🙂

    Cat

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    • Stef says:

      “Our instincts rarely lead us astray, and a kindness is rarely wasted.” I LOVE this line of yours. This may be my new mantra. (My current mantra is, “No matter the question, the answer is love.”)

      Like

  9. I’ve been a pushover for lemonade stands for about 45 years, maybe because my wise old grandmother never let me have one. A couple of years ago, during the height of the Great Recession, there was a little boy on the street corner with his lemonade stand. Mom was sitting in the car far enough away not to be intrusive but close enough to protect her little boy. I made a U turn and went back for some 25¢ lemonade. It was the best lemonade I have ever had! I gave the little boy 25¢ and a $4.75 tip. Mom was aghast, but extremely happy. Made me feel really good. I told them that they should put up a sign saying, “Best lemonade you’ve ever had.” And they could use my name and phone number in their testimonial……………….

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  10. Pingback: #17: Let high school kids bag my groceries | Smile, kiddo.

  11. Pingback: #19: Buy Cookie Cart cookies | Smile, kiddo.

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