I have some great neighbors who have recently taught me, or more accurately put, reminded me of a valuable life lesson – to try to make a kid’s day regularly. These neighbors made my daughters’ day by satisfying their entrepreneurial spirit and warmed our hearts in the process.
Recently, my family joined some friends of ours on a little trip to what has been termed “Glitter Mountain” or the “Glitter Mines. The “glitter” is actually gypsum (what sheetrock is made out of), which, in the form the girls were “mining” or finding all over the ground, looks like rectangularly-chiseled, nearly transparent rocks. Both daughters brought a bag full of the clear stones home and did their best to wash the dirt off so they would be even more transparent. When we allowed them to bring these “treasures” home, we had no idea what would become of them. It didn’t take us along to find out.
That evening, while my wife and 8-year-old daughter went on a little mommy-daughter date, my creative and inventive 6-year-old daughter had the idea that she would strike it “rich” by selling her pieces of gypsum, which she calls “crystals,” in front of our house. She turned a diaper box into her place of business, found an old jar as her money repository, and wrote a sign advertising her crystals for sale. She first set up in the middle of the lawn, but I coaxed her into setting up shop on the sidewalk to be closer to her potential customers. She was extremely optimistic about her prospects, but I had my doubts, especially because of her location along a dead-end street.
It took only 15 to 20 minutes for her to get her one and only customer that night, our kind across-the-street neighbor, a caring grandpa whom I regularly see out playing with his granddaughters when they are visiting. He asked my daughter how much her crystals cost and she said $15 (She drives a hard bargain). He then said he would give her $3, to which she agreed. However, he didn’t have $3, only a $5 bill, so he gave that to her.
She beamed, took the $5 and let him choose the “crystal” that he wanted. I thanked him for humoring her and being her first customer and he went on his way.
A week later, both daughters and one of their friends had the idea to set up shop again. This time around, it didn’t take long for them to get their first customer, another kind, thoughtful across-the-street neighbor who is a grand example of service to the community and who always remembers to bring something over for our girls’ birthdays. She gladly bought a “crystal” saying she’d buy anything from “these two cuties.” Their next customer was another across-the-street neighbor, a boy just older than them with whom they often play. He said next time the decide to sell the crystals, he wants to help.
When I ran into the very first crystal-buying customer at the store a few days ago and thanked him again for his generosity, he said something that is truly a life-lesson.
“I was always taught to stop at every lemonade stand,” he said. “That’s great advice,” I thought to myself – both literally and figuratively. We can literally stop at every lemonade stand to give a child a smile and figuratively stop there just by doing something – anything – to make a child’s day.
We’ve seen some examples lately of total strangers exhibiting that piece of advice. For instance, a kind man from whom we bought something on craigslist at Christmastime, knowing that we have young daughters, gave us a Christmas search-and-find book. Our girls wanted to look at it every day leading up to Christmas. Another example is when we attended a hot air balloon festival recently, a generous hot air balloon owner offered to let the girls get in the basket to see what it is like, explain how how a hot air balloon works and allow us to take a picture of them in the basket. That experience was the icing on the cake of the event, on which left them in complete awe and the desire to find out more about hot air balloons.
So my challenge this week is to do something to make a kid’s day. As all these examples illustrate, it’s simple things that can make so much of a difference.
Epilogue: After a while, my girls were asking me to help them attract more customers. They wanted me to hold a sign for them. Instead, I told them I’d help them by giving them some advice the next time they set up shop: change locations to a busier street and expand their product line. We’ll see how that goes.