Almost everyone is familiar with the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” a proverb that’s used to encourage optimism in the face of life’s misfortunes.
Years ago, as a seven-year-old second-grader, I did something that had the opposite effect. On a Sunday much like today, I made a very short trek to visit my friend, Alan, whose house was only one home away from mine. When I got there, I noticed that his two sisters were selling lemonade in the driveway. And because boys and girls at that age are still into teasing, cooties, and that sort of thing, that’s precisely what took place.
Before I knew it, I was on the losing end of verbal jabs. Feeling out-numbered, and a little embarrassed, I did something that I am not too proud of. I grabbed some dry leaves, crushed them in my hands, and…(you can probably guess where this is going), I threw them into their only pitcher of lemonade. Needless to say, the girls were so upset, and instead of asking Alan to come out to play, I ran back home.
About four or five days later, I went back to visit Alan again. This time, there were no girls and no lemonade stand in the driveway. The only person around was Alan’s father, who was busy working on a sprinkler on the front lawn. When I stopped to say hello, he responded with this: “Ya know, Rigo, the other day you did something that wasn’t very nice,” I was frozen, ashamed, and a little scared. Before I could take another step, he added, “I think you owe the girls an apology. Alan and the girls are inside.”
I don’t even remember what happened next. My hope is that I apologized, but according to one of my old Facebook posts from September 30, 2011, perhaps I didn’t, because it reads: “And finally to my second grade neighbor, Tania, [sorry] for putting crushed leaves into your lemonade at your lemonade stand. I must have really hurt your sales that day. Phew! Finally got that off my chest.”
Deservedly, I never felt good about doing that to those girls.
Nowadays, I rarely pass a lemonade stand if I can help it. And while I’d like to believe that my reasons for stopping are in some way associated with my very poor judgment so many years ago, the truth is, I stop because I am a parent, and I know that small gestures of kindness go a long way with kids.
Today, the last thing I wanted to do was sit at a lemonade stand. But my son, Atticus, has been asking and asking and asking if we could set up shop outside to sell his artwork. As you might guess, I knew that that was going to be a tall order. To that end, we decided to complement the art with lemonade.
Early this morning, I worked on signs, and Atticus worked on art.
We opened for business at about noon.
In the first few minutes, dozens of cars drove by. Nothing. A family of three walked by pushing a stroller, and again: nothing.
It didn’t take long for Atticus to realize that selling art and lemonade was going to be tougher than he thought, “Dad, let’s go back to our house.” I told him to be patient.
And then…a series of small miracles.
A few people, beginning with my friends Terece and Jada, started to make online donations via Venmo. At the same time, family members on my wife’s side, including her grandmother, starting coming by.
Sales! Sales! Sales!
We even received a donation from my childhood friend in Missouri! Every few minutes more and more family members and friends kept coming by. One of my buddies rolled up on his Harley. Ya gotta love that!
Atticus even got a visit from another six-year-old, Nathan, pictured here with him in our front yard. He and Atticus are only two-hours apart! Born on the same day in the same hospital! In fact, Nathan’s sisters and Jada all played softball for PAL when the two boys were born. Pretty cool, huh?
Before I thank everyone by name, allow me to offer a colossal THANK YOU for making this day so special for Atticus and our family.
For a long time, lemonade stands left a sour taste in my mouth because of my own actions. But thanks to all of you, and your incredible generosity and enormous hearts, all I can say is: How sweet it is!
Special thanks to: Terece, Jada, Dow, Laura, Stephanie, Gloria, Jennifer, Gina, Grandma Hopie, Grammy, Natalie, Robert, Gio, Kennedy, Aunt Linda, Bobby, Danny, Cece, Larry, Alex, Stephanie, Nathan, and Lupe.by