Wednesday, July 20, 2011


"I have some lemons leftover from my baking, boys. Shall we juice them and make sorbet?"

"Oh, Mom! Instead can we make lemonade and sell it for money?" Blaine begged. "You said in the summer I could have a lemonade stand and it's finally a warm day!"
"OK, let's do it!" I agreed, as I plugged in the electric juicer. And we set to work. I carried a table and chairs out to the sidewalk and gathered plastic cups while Blaine and his brother, Roger squeezed out lemons with all their might. They worked long and hard for that lemon juice. I helped them mix in a hearty scoop of sugar and some water, created a sign as directed by Blaine, found them a pail to collect the money, and set them out on their first ever entrepreneurial venture.

As I watched them beckon to passing cars and helped them pour some cups for the neighborhood kids that stopped by on their bikes, I reveled in this perfect summer moment. I was enchanted by the magic of my boys' first lemonade stand, thrilled that the sun was finally here to stay, and--I dare say--a little proud of myself for going to the effort to make it happen. It was one of those moments.
After the bike gang left our pitcher empty, I helped Blaine stir up one last batch and carried it out to the table. "Remember, son," I warned, "if someone wants some lemonade, holler at me so I can pour it. We don't want it to spill!"

I wasn't even back in the house before I heard it. The pitcher of lemonade crashed down and all of the magic and pride of the moment with it. I ran outside to find Blaine in screaming tears over the spilled lemonade. I was filled with heartbreak and frustration all at once. "What happened, son?"

"Rog wanted some. I was trying to pour it and the lid fell off and it all spilled out!" he sobbed. "Oh, Blaine! I am so sorry about your lemonade. I wish you had listened to me, son. This wouldn't have happened if you had called me to pour it like I told you!"

Uuuuugggghhh. I was crushed. It tore me up inside that my son lost something he had worked so hard for. It killed me that it could have all been avoided if he had just trusted me and taken my advice.

As we hosed off the sticky sidewalk and lemonade stand together I thought to myself, "This was just spilled lemonade. What happens when he's sixteen and it's a car accident?" Just thinking about that felt like getting punched in the stomach.

But here's what it comes down to:

I can teach and I can warn. I can plead and I can encourage. I can set parameters and make rules. But in the end, I have to allow my children autonomy and agency. And, as much as it pains me, I have to let them feel the consequences of their actions.

As we dried off the table and brought the chairs in, I looked at Blaine and said, "Did you learn a lesson today?"

"Yes, Mom."

Oh how I hope he remembers it.


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