Driving leisurely down a bucolic road in town, on a picture perfect summer morning, I am enveloped by a feeling of calm. A much-loved 80’s song is playing on the radio evoking high school memories and a soft breeze billows through my open window. What a glorious day! Nearing my turn for home, I spot a structure on the side of the road, manned by three tween boys. The lanky figures, which only moments ago appeared motionless, suddenly spring into action as my car nears, hopping , hooting and screeching. They pump their home-made sign high into the air screaming “LEMONADE!”
My first impulse is to pray I don’t know the solicitors which would make it easier not to stop. My second, is to just pull over and buy a cup to save face. Being that it is such a busy road I opt for impulse one and hold my breath. But, the dread seeps in as I spot one of the boys is from my son’s 6th grade class and even worse, the children recognize me as well, shouting ”YAY! It’s Owen’s mom, it’s Owen’s mom!!! …LEMONADE.. PLEASE STOP!” One of the boys, normally sullen by nature, is grinning like a jack-o-lantern as he dances a jig toward my car tilting his sign back and forth in rhythm to his steps, his personality transformed by visions of the day end tally. What to do, what to do? As much as I want to support the boys, it is a hazardous place to stop and I don’t have anywhere to put the glass of lemonade while driving. Stepping on the gas pedal, I smile and drive past, putting it out of my head for the moment.
An hour later at home, my son approaches. He needs me to drive him to basketball practice. I will have to pass the lemonade stand again to reach the gym. I can get away with passing once but twice? If I drive in the opposite direction (almost to a neighboring town) I can avoid the stand. Grabbing my car keys I reason a 15 minute detour is indeed worth another encounter with the lads.
Turning left out of my driveway I crane my neck to catch a glimpse of the stand. Though it is not to be… the long stretch of road is deserted, clear. The boys have closed up and retired home early! But my relief is short-lived. They are standing in new location on the opposite side of street. The frenetic jumping once again begins as they spot a car, and they can hardly contain themselves as they recognize it is my car, once again. “Owen’s mom has come back!!! YAY. YAY! Lemonade. Lemonade…PLEEEEEEASE STOP!!!” But the terrible thing is that I don’t stop, but once again drive past. Did I hear something unpleasant this time muttered from the disappointed entrepreneurs? My imagination runs rampant. Those boys are too a little old to be selling lemonade anyway. I try not to feel guilty but the thing is I do. They are just little boys, well twelve year-old boys.
Two hours later, as we drive home from basketball practice, I am at a crossroad (literally). Which way to turn to avoid stand, left or right? Could they have moved the stand a third time? This time I resign myself to the fact that I will just buy the lemonade. I turn right and my eyes search the road. Sure enough the three come into view, back in their original spot. The dancing and shrieking begins as I approach. I pull over. The most dramatic of the three, bows gracefully as he presents me the prize, a tall cool glass of homemade lemonade. I reach for my wallet and as I open it, my heart begins to accelerate. I have no cash! I cannot meet their eyes. The sullen boy becomes sullen again. The other two, shoulders hunched, retreat from the car. My son, mortified, slouches down in his seat. I believe I again hear unkind comments, but cannot be sure. Pulling away from the curb I call out that I will “be back in a minute with the money” but all of us have little faith in this promise. A phrase keeps going through my head. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…