Playground Perspective (July 2014)

A few weeks ago -- in the late morning heat of an already too busy Saturday -- I intercepted Thea as she lugged a table to the sidewalk in front of our house.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"I'm setting up a lemonade stand," she replied, matter-of-factly.

I was torn between our packed weekend agenda and my desire to encourage Thea's explorations. I figured a few questions could steer things in the right direction. The conversation, which became increasingly heated as both of us became exasperated with the other's intransigence, went something like this:

"What are you going to sell?"


"We don't have any." (Which prompted an examination of the contents of the refrigerator.)

"Well, then, water. And almond milk."

"Do you have cups?"

"My birthday party cups."

"We used those. At your birthday party."


Moments later, she emerged from our utility room with an armful of black bean cans from the recycling bin.

"What are those for?" I asked.

"Cups," she replied.

"You're going to sell tap water in metal bean cans?" I asked.

"Yes, for one dollar a can," she sniffed, walking out of the kitchen.

If she were three, I would have chalked it up as cute and let it roll. (Actually, I probably would have been both a bigger jerk, and helped her more proactively.) But since Thea is seven -- and not a big fan of things not going exactly as planned (No, I don't know where she gets that.) -- I interceded.

"I'm going to the grocery store," I told her on the sidewalk, surveying her stand. "Can I pick up some lemonade, lemons, cups?"

We agreed that I would buy supplies, and that she would work on a sign and some flyers to circulate around the neighborhood while I was gone. And that once the flyers were out, we would not talk about the lemonade stand until 30 minutes before the advertised sale time.

At 4:00, she was sitting at her small table ready to go. At 4:05, she was dejected. And then our neighbor walked by with her daughter. Moments later, a Twitter follower pulled to the curb and ordered a cup. By 5:00, she was out of her lemonade. It was time to count the coins.

"Twenty seven dollars!" she exclaimed. "That's a lot!"

I pulled $10 out for the change I spotted her when she started, and then another $5 for supplies.

"But now I barely have any money!" she said. "I was going to send it to pay for a cure for cystic fibrosis!"

Thea's five-year-old cousin, Caroline, lives with CF. It's a cause close to home for all of us.

We agreed that $12 was a solid amount to send to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and that the next time she holds a lemonade sale she should let people know in advance, and that she is raising money for a cause.

Fast forward to this weekend. Thea is holding another lemonade sale to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She'll also be selling slices of watermelon. Stop by...