Practicing Parents

On Lemonade Stands and Being Still: Reflections from My Front Porch

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I am writing this post on the bottom step of my front porch.  I am enjoying a cool drink, cold watermelon, and a warm, evening breeze as I hear my two kiddos and their neighbor friends chanting,
“Lemonade, Water, Cookie Stand!”
“Lemonade, Water, Cookie Stand!”
“Lemonade, Water, Cookie Stand!”
…over and over and over.

We’ve got lemonade and no-bake cookies going for twenty-five cents a piece, and water is free, folks, if you’re interested.  You can even request a lemon wedge and a mint leaf at no extra charge.

My miniature entrepreneurs have made $14.50 so far.  Five dollars of that was from a friendly couple who were heading to dinner and didn’t want anything to eat or drink, but who wanted to donate to the cause.  Another $5 was from a kind lady who bought a glass of lemonade and told them to keep the change.  A couple of sweaty teenagers came by after a pickup game of soccer in the field across the street.  They looked pretty happy walking away with their red cups of lemonade and their cookies carefully wrapped in a lime green napkin.  A grandpa leaving a t-ball game stopped to buy some lemonade for his hot and thirsty grandsons.

So, while business isn’t exactly booming, a little money is being made (some to donate, some to keep), thirsty people are drinking, and the kids are hopping up and down and laughing and bubbling with enthusiasm.

I can’t help but smile, as I sit here, because the evening light is lovely and my children are giddy and also because people are so nice.  Well, a lot of people, anyway–not everyone seems to abide by one of my rules:

Stop at a lemonade stand.  No matter what.  Even if I am in a hurry or the kids serving me have grimy hands and little bugs are floating in the plastic cup.

Those kind souls who do stop are smiling and kind and encouragingEven some dog walkers are stopping and enjoying a free cup of ice water on this warm evening.  I’m glad for that, too.  Amélie and Jack want to make a little money, but they are just as happy to share a free glass of water with a thirsty neighbor.

Truthfully, I did not want to supervise this lemonade stand tonight.  I have sort of had a wretched day, and just forty-five minutes ago I was cranky about having to lug outside a table and chairs, mix up a cooler full of lemonade, and slice lemons into wedges.  Everything felt topsy-turvy today, and my plan, once Matt came home, was to sequester myself to the attic, alone, to write.  I felt like I deserved some time alone.  And, truthfully, I may feel that way again in another forty-five minutes.  But here I am, in this moment, surrounded by my kids and my neighbor’s kids and a chorus of barking dogs, and instead of making me want to run screaming up the attic stairs into a cocoon of silence, I am quite content to sit here on my stoop and soak up the cheerful chaos.

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I just went inside to refill the water pitcher.  Gnats are hovering around the watermelon I left on the counter, dishes are stacked in the sink, and there is a pile of dirty laundry heaped in a basket—camping laundry, no less—whose stains are setting deeper the longer I wait to throw them in the wash.  Yet, I can’t bring myself to stay inside.

As I have written before, my soul needs silence and solitude, in a desperate sort of way, but sometimes, I also just need to abandon my to-do list and my deeply-ingrained sense of duty and even my quest for alone time, and just…be.

A Bible verse that continually mystifies me is Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

What does that even mean?  How do I quiet myself long enough to be, much less to be still?

Generally, I am horrible at just “being,” but tonight, I am pulling it off, in all of its reckless, messy chaos.  I’m not being still, exactly, but I’m here, in this moment, and I think that perhaps God is here, too, soaking up the green grass and the evening sky and maybe even an ice-cold glass of lemonade.

There is laundry to be done, yes, and dishes to wash, and watermelon to cover and stuff back into my fridge.

But tonight—I am just being.

I am enjoying my perch on the bottom step of my deck.
I am enjoying the laughter of my kids.
I am enjoying the small wonder of living in a town where police officers stop for lemonade, and even put on a little light show for my gaping son (who, I am sure, proudly announced his life plan: to first become a “good” robber who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, and then to become a police officer).
I am enjoying small talk with Matt, who is seated above me on the deck, and our neighbor, who is sprawled out on the grass in front of me.
I am enjoying the kindness of strangers who drive past our house and then turn around and come back to buy a cool cup of lemonade or a melting chocolate oatmeal cookie.

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It is now time to pack up the sticky cooler and the melting cookies and the leftover cups and lemon wedges and mint leaves.
My daughter is counting up her quarters and dollar bills.
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 I am counting up my blessings…
…and my heart is content, at peace, still.

~ Jill Clingan

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