Mason adores the water. She says she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up and she can swim like a fish. So, naturally she wants a “real” mermaid tail! Typical to my usual parenting style I told her, “If you can find one on the Internet, we’ll talk about it.” And, much to my disbelief, she did:
Kids “Super Tails” start at a shocking $115.00, so I baulked. But, Mason quickly formulated a plan.
This morning I awoke to find my kitchen transformed into a lemonade making factory—sugar, lemon juice, cups, straws, pitchers, and sticky spots on the counter tops and floor. I stifled a scream and calmly asked what she intended to do.
“I’m going to sell lemonde. Isn’t is obvious?”
“Door to door.” She grinned.
I’ve never heard of lemonade “cold calls” in the middle of winter, but why not? I figured a little failure would build her character and teach her the value of a dollar. The problem was I was still in my pajamas and had no intention of leaving the warm house to wander our neighborhood, so I made a tough decision—she would go alone.
We live in the safest neighborhood you can imagine, but still there are no children outside playing. It seems to be the national trend because of horrific stories like Amber Hagerman, a little local girl, who was abducted and killed at nine years old. Same age as Mason. Amber Hagerman inspired the national Amber Alert system for missing children. The Amber Alert is an excellent service to help recover missing children and keep kids safe. Still, back in the seventies us kids used to wander up and down the neighborhoods having all kinds of adventures and physical fun. I remember selling Girl Scout cookies door to door and my territory was limited only by how far I wanted to walk. A few years ago I read Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. Skenazy made national news when she let her nine year-old take the New York City subway home by himself. People were outraged even though he had asked to be allowed to try it alone and they had practiced together, and most importantly, he had made it home safely. Skenazy argues that children are statistically safer now then they ever have been, but our fears (fueled by the 24 hour news cycle) have convinced us that the danger of abduction is very high. Our overprotectiveness is producing dependent and fearful children who are missing many of the joys and freedoms we cherish the most from our own childhood.
I sold cookies door to door alone. Mason can sell lemonade door to door alone.
I gave Mason my cellphone, a luxury we didn’t have in the seventies, and a kiss for good luck. Then I sat at home and worried.
A half hour later she returned.
“How did it go? Did you make any money?”
“Yes, twenty-four dollars.”
“You sold twenty-four glasses of lemonade!”
“No, I sold four glasses of lemonade and got a twenty dollar tip for ‘excellent service.’”
That’s my girl!