“Mom! Can I clean the bathroom?”
“Uh…sure,” I reply, trying to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor.
“Will you pay me a dollar?”
Ah yes. The catch.
“Why should I pay you a dollar?” I ask. “The bathroom is dirty because you made it dirty. Don’t you think you should clean it up for free?”
“But I want to raise money to send to children in Haiti!”
“Oh. Well, I guess you can have a dollar then.”
“Great! After that I’m going to go around the neighborhood and knock on people’s doors and see if I can walk their dogs to earn money for Haiti. I want to get $111.00.”
I start calculating how many miles he’s going to have to walk to come up with that money. It doesn’t seem entirely realistic. “Hey bud,” I call to my laboring son. “Come here – I have an idea.”
And thus was birthed the idea for the lemonade stand for Haiti.
I haven’t put on a lemonade stand since I was a kid myself. And it ended…poorly. I was eleven-ish and we lived in a brand new St. Louis subdivision. The neighbors across the street joined me and together we made up lemonade and situated ourselves on the street in front of some new construction. We figured the builders would like to come buy our lemonade.
But they didn’t. Despite our shrills screeches for LEMONAAAAAAAADE!!!!
So we put our heads together and came up with a solution to make more money. My neighbor ran over to her house and raided her parents garage refridgerater. She came out moments later dragging a cooler filled with…beer.
We commenced to shouting: LEMONAAAAADE…BEEEEEER!
And lo and behold, the builders flocked to us. We sold several cans of beer and were racking in the dough when her dad came tearing acorss the yard. The construction workers scattered.
“What are you doing?” he stammered.
“We’re selling lemonade and beer,” we said proudly. “We’re making a lot of money.”
“Girls!” he cried. “This is illegal. You can’t sell beer.”
And that was the last time I worked a lemonade stand.
Despite the popularity of the beer, I refrained from suggesting to Sloan the illegal selling of alcohol. Instead we kept it innocent – lemonade and chocolate chip cookies. I also did the smart thing and put out the word on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to the sweet friends who came out and supported my tender hearted sons’ dream. You helped him reach his goal and more.
The neighbor kids joined us in flagging down passing cars. Unfortunately there was a competing stand down the road, but that didn’t hamper the spirits of the kids. They waved, they jumped and flapped their arms like chickens, all the while screeching LEEEEEMONADE!
And people, when they discovered that we were accepting donations for this organization, were extremely generous, paying five, ten and in one case forty, dollars for a glass of lemonade and a freshly baked cookie.
I was humbled as I watched Sloan work so hard to earn money. Earlier that weekend, I had taken him to Target to use a gift card he got for his birthday. He had his wallet with him and in his wallet was $20. His gift card had $15 on it. He saw several toys that he wanted that were more than $15. I never said a word to him, I wanted to see how he would respond.
He refused to spend that $20. “That’s the money for Haiti,” he told me. And he picked out a smaller toy and a pack of gum instead. Where did this child of mine come from? It’s humbling to me. There is often an ugliness in my heart that crops up when the need to give presents itself. I get fearful that by giving away my money I may potentially not have what I need (or want) somewhere down the road. So to see my seven year old give with reckless abandon, not caring about what he might be sacrificing, I was floored.
And honored. Honored to be his mom. Ashamed of my own ugliness. Excited to help him work to earn $111.00.
Who wouldn’t want to buy a glass of lemonade from a face like this?
We were out there about an hour and a half before the sky started to fall. As the rain fell, we grabbed our stuff and rushed home where we counted our money. $120. He reached his goal.
“Oh wait!” Sloan cried as we sat on the floor with the money. He rushed to his wallet and grabbed the money out of it. “I want to put this in.”
Lee and I looked at each other and back at Sloan, his big blue eyes so sweet and big. “You know what, buddy,” Lee said. “Why don’t you keep it.”
We went on to explain how God blesses a cheerful giver and we thought that Sloan deserved to keep the money he had already earned as a blessing for his heart.
“Well, can I put some of it in for the children in Haiti?” Sloan asked.
“You can put all of it in, if you really want to,” Lee said. “But if you want to keep it, you have our permission.”
He thought about it for a minute and took out five dollars. “I want to give some of it to Haiti,” he said.
And then together as a family, we prayed a blessing over this jar of money – and over a certain seven year old who taught me quite a bit in the span of one day.