Making lemonade & Me
Posted August 25, 2010on:
There was a certain amount of amusement the other day when I walked in the house with two full cups of lemonade and poured each down the drain.
I had stopped at two different lemonade stands on the way home but wasn’t so sure about drinking them. One stand had lemonade in cups out under the hot sun. The other, I was impressed to see, had the lemonade in a cooler and the young entrepreneur had tongs to pick up the ice cubes. That was impressive.
Still, I don’t like lemonade all that much. But I’m all for encouraging young entrepreneurs. I just gave each a dollar – the first was by donation and the second a quarter – to not drink their lemonade. My goals were to:
- Not let the first proprietor see that I was not going to actually drink it.
- Not spill it when it sloshed around in my car.
- Not let the second proprietor see the first cup in my car.
I had passed the stands are my way to the hospital, and felt guilty I did not stop. A few weeks ago, I had recently stopped at a lemonade stand in Maggie’s neighborhood in Overland Park, Kansas. She reminded me that her mother had always told her to never pass up a kid’s stand. Her mother must be a wonderful person.
Anyway, I was not going to the hospital for anything serious, just to be measured for these compression sleeves that I need to wear when flying on airplanes. The goal is preventing lymphedema (fluid buildup and swelling), a side effect of mastectomies that could occur any time for the rest of my life. Breast cancer is the gift that keeps on giving.
Anyway, I made a mental note when I passed the stands to stop on my way back. And they were still there – just the kind of visual reminder I needed since my mental notes generally have limited effectiveness.
Why would I buy lemonade and not drink it? I’m a little squeamish about sanitation, not that our home is that great. I used to sell the stuff myself and all my kids who have been young entrepreneurs in the Kool-Aid field.
It was the summer after Matt’s leukemia was diagnosed and he decided to earn some extra money the best way a 6 year old could. With our help, he built a stand from stacked wooden crates and dictated the words we should put on signs to lure in the customers: “Matt’s Lemonade. Only a nickel. It’s delicious.”
Other branding included: “Best on 23rd Street.” “Drink it fast before you burst into a big bubble of lemonade.” “Drink it up fast … It won’t last forever.”
It was highly successful marketing campaign as a city bus driver even got off and purchased some of his wares. Of course, it helped that a bus shelter was located right in front of our house.
Matt, the young entrepreneur, had some help – his sister, Maggie, then about 2.
Mostly, Maggie drank up the profits, much to the chagrin of the more business-minded Matt.
Some years ago, I decided to tell the story of Matt’s leukemia diagnosis, treatment and later death after a bone marrow transplant. He was handed a lemon in life, but truly was a kid who made lemonade – figuratively and literally.
His example may very well be why I have mostly kept my sense of humor and developed a positive spirit during my cancer treatment. You can learn from your kids. I know I have and do.