She had been asking to run a lemonade stand all week. I agreed on a Saturday afternoon, if it was sunny.
When I told her it was time, she put on a fluttery pink party dress. Mixed the lemonade to perfection. Slipped yellow slices into the pitcher. Plunked ice cubes in plip-plop-plip.
The table was set, she unrolled “Lemonade 25¢” in the neatest 6-year-old handwriting I’ve ever seen, and we were ready to go.
She whispered taglines into my ear that she wanted us to chant together, once the cars started rolling by:
“Lemonade Stand! Lemonade Stand! Come-n-getchya lemonaaaaade here!”
She stacked the cups into four even piles, asked me to make sure the sign in the street didn’t topple over again.
She had to sit on her hands, she was so excited.
Looking left, looking right. Waiting for the distant rumble of an approaching car.
Each time one came, she leapt up and waved, a smile brimming with enthusiasm.
Our first customer stopped by the curb, a friend I had texted. Sold! To the family in the minivan en route to softball!
The next was a dad from the neighborhood, who drove past us at first, then pulled a u-turn and came over with a grin.
She poured him a tall frosty cup and said “Twenty-five cents, please!”
In her hand he pressed seventy-five and said, “Keep the change for a job well done.”
Tears surprised me by burning my eyes; I choked out a “Thank you.”
Car after car pulled over, usually because she stood and waved with a toothy smile.
When they didn’t stop, when they looked straight ahead, ignoring my determined daughter’s twinkling gaze and frenetic cup waving, I wondered, “Who the HELL do you think you are?”
I wanted to jump onto their hoods and shout “Do you have ANY idea how much it means to her when someone stops for a cup of our jazzed-up Country Time? Just fork over a quarter, dammit. We won’t take but a minute of your precious time!”
But I couldn’t get mad. It was lemonade karma coming at me. I could feel it sour in my veins, tarting up my knowing heart. This is how those other parents felt when I drove by their kids.
Now I keep a special stash of lemonade stand change in my car, ready to switch on the hazards and partake in a refreshing cup of entrepreneurship from kids on the side of the roads I travel. It may only be a quarter to me, but it’s the world to them.
Worth every penny.