Sweet and tart – the best lemonade

There are two groups of people in this world – the one who can pass by a child’s lemonade stand and the ones who come screeching to a halt.
I’m the sucker on the latter end.
I blame my parents.
Growing up on a dead end street, I never had a lemonade stand.
Oh, I had dreams. I remember drafting a plan for a full-fledged snack haven with my cousin one lazy summer night.
We were going to bake cookies with giant chunks of chocolate and mix up pitchers of Country Time for an Army.
We planned to split the money right down the middle and buy, well, I don’t know what we would have bought. But I’m absolutely sure it was something good. Maybe the dolly with her own bathrobe that you could take into the bathtub, the one I marked in the junk catalogs my mom received month after month?
I’ll never know. Because my parents got wind of our plans. They came to the defense of their pantry – about to be raided to outfit our first foray into business.
They laid it out for us – back road, dead end street. No cars. No customers.
Those parents – always thinking.
Our dreams died on that hot summer’s evening, a pain eased by orange creamsicles devoured out on the lawn where we couldn’t drip on the floor.
When I see a little table and chairs set up on the roadside, a little boy or girl holding up a hand-lettered sign, I hit my brakes and flip my blinker.
Sunday, I’d gotten only a quarter of a mile down the road on my way to my parents’ house when I saw it.
A boy with his sign, a tent behind him.
I pulled over. I checked my rearview mirror. I did a U-turn.
“Where are we going, Mommy?” Jillian asked from the backseat.
“We’re going to get you some lemonade,” I told her.
Together we hopped out of the car and walked over to a family set up on the sidewalk.
The boy, I soon learned, wanted a remote control car. He had a yearning like I had for that bathtime dolly.
And thanks to a trafficked road and a fierce determination to hold that sign sky high for every driver, he was going to get that car.
I watched him carefully pour out Jillian’s huge cup of lemonade with a grin that got wider still when he handed it across the table and said, “thank you.”
“No, thank you,” I said. “But you didn’t tell me what I owe you yet. Don’t thank me until you get the money for your work!”
“Oh,” he said, sheepishly. “It’s $1.”
I shook my head.
“How are you ever going to get that remote control car if all you charge me is $1?” I asked him. “How about $2?”
The little boy’s smile made up for crushed dreams of decades ago better than any orange popsicle.


  1. Just wanted to say that I really appreciated your piece today at Babble.com. I think it’s so important for us — mothers of daughters — to talk about weight, body images, our struggles. Thank you.

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