My sons have been running summer lemonade stands for years. Their first was on Canada Day 2005 when they were four and one. There were no signs, just two very little kids sitting at a green IKEA table, the top scattered with paper cups, a pitcher of over-iced, weak lemonade, and a jar of change on the ground beside the bright blue chairs.
It was incredibly hot and, for an hour, I stood holding an umbrella over their heads. Sales weren’t big that day, but they did learn a valuable lesson in marketing.
For their next lemonade stand, they made a bristol board sign with letters that started out evenly spaced out but gradually smooshed together when they ran out of room - the right hand edge of the bristol board always comes sooner than you think. The kids took turns waving that sign in the air and yelling “lemonade for 50 cents!” to drivers and pedestrians who passed by.
Business was better that day.
We’ve all seen them - little pop-up stands with tiny kids serving up lemonade that’s either lukewarm or over-iced and weak. Some are for charity, while others are simply so kids can make some money for themselves.
I've heard people say they won't buy lemonade from a stand if it's not for charity but I have a soft spot in my heart for kids who exercise their entrepreneurial skills. Some days, the kid inside my adult body would love to make a few extra bucks from a lemonade stand. A girl's gotta support her salt 'n vinegar chip habit somehow.
My boys have sold lemonade to people on bikes, skateboards, and scooters. I will always appreciate our neighbours who bought from them time and time again, usually overpaying the 50 cent price and giving a loonie and saying “keep the change” as they walked away.
Many of them smiled and said, “Mmmmmm…." when they drank it.
I'd tasted it. I knew how good it really tasted.
Each and every time my boys made a sale, I smiled. I smiled because these kind people took time from their schedules to stop at a little table for a paper cup filled with lukewarm, slightly weak lemonade.
Our lives are so busy. I’m a “get ‘er done” type of mom and am often rushing around trying, but never quite managing to get through my never ending to-do list. Sometimes, I’m so focused on what I have to do, I forget to slow down and enjoy the small moments - moments like stopping at a lemonade stand and bringing joy to a little entrepreneur whose mom’s kitchen is currently a sticky disaster zone from a small child trying to mix lemonade on his own.
So, this summer, maybe we can all take a moment to stop when we see a lemonade stand, and if the change in our pocket allows, to overpay those small kids sitting in the hot sun.
You’ll be giving something where cost is beyond measure, because we never know how our small kindnesses impact those around us. That’s always worth our time, isn’t it? Plus, there’s something magical about drinking lemonade made by kids.
Even when it’s lukewarm and weak.