I did a bad thing. I passed a lemonade stand. I saw it coming and I didn’t stop. If there’s one thing my mom instilled in us at a young age, it was that you ALWAYS stop at a lemonade stand. The act of drinking the cup of often lukewarm, nearly always radioactively-colored liquid with the occasional bug floating on top is not important. In fact, my mom usually pours the cup out as soon as we’ve turned the corner and the ten-year old businessmen and women cannot see our abandonment of the fruits of their labor. No, drinking it is not important. What is important is that you stop. You stop and you support the kids who mixed one of those cans of lemonade concentrate with a few cups of water, all in the hopes of earning a little spending money.
The lemonade stand must be taken seriously. It gives kids a purpose. It keeps them off the streets. OK, technically it keeps them on the streets. But you know what I mean. Sylvie and I were members of this elite club of lemonade dealers. After checking the hour by hour forecast (or H by H as some of us call it) and declaring it a day for lemonade, we headed for the kitchen and pulled out a pitcher and a packet of Crystal Light. Yes, Crystal Light. Don’t judge. We then marched proudly up the hill to the corner, where we proceeded to wave wildly at the passing cars, trying desperately to get them to stop. Whenever someone stopped, Sylvie and I exchanged the grin of success. And as the customer exited his or her car and approached us, we assumed the roles of true business women. We sold the product with clever lines like “You’re really gonna like our lemonade. It’s special.” Special?
Thinking now about this tradition that encourages early entrepreneurship, I can’t help but question the safety in the practice. First of all, weren’t we taught at a young age not to talk to strangers, much less buy mysterious liquids from them? It seems that danger lies on both ends. Are we really urging young children to ask strangers for money? And are we really drinking (well, sometimes drinking) lemonade concocted from those we do not know? I mean come on, this “lemonade” could totally be roofied. I can see the headline now: “Unidentified girl found dead after consuming ‘lemonade’ from stand of local neighborhood children.” I’m just sayin’.