A few days ago, the children and I were on our weekly park-hopping expedition … park hopping, if you were wondering, is a marvelous activity in which we tour all around town looking for new parks to discover.
We have found big parks and little parks. Parks that are hidden in the midst of tall houses and parks in plain view from the long and narrow walking paths we travel.
So as we were engaging in our park uncovering adventures, we came across a young man sitting behind a large red cooler with a cardboard sign attached to it. The sign read “Ice Tea.” I wanted to correct the kid and tell him that it is properly pronounced “iced tea” but I was concerned that may come off a bit rude. Plus the kid was like seven.
So instead, the children and I slowed down and stopped at his “Ice Tea” stand for a quick refresher.
As soon as this seven-year-old entrepreneur realized we were actually going to stop, his look of boredom and dreariness quickly transformed. A new child sat before us as we arrived in front of his makeshift kiosk. He wore a bright smile and greeted us with a cheery, “Hello, what can I get for you ma’am?”
I wasn’t impressed with the ma’am part but I realized I may just be getting to the age that I can’t complain about being referred to in such terms anymore. Sigh.
“Hello, good sir, I see you are selling iced tea.” I really put some good enunciation on the ‘iced’ part, too. What the hell is wrong with me?
“Yeah a dollar a cup.” Wow, a little steep, I’d say, but who am I to argue with the small child selling beverages on the side of the road? So without another word or any more of my passive aggressive nonsense, I bought three glasses of literally the worst iced tea I had ever drank in my entire life. The kids and I sipped it sparingly.
“Yummy, good stuff,” I blurted out to no one in particular. Lars and Sophie just stared up at me with a blank, what-are-you-talking-about kind of look. The kid, on the other hand, must have decided the comment was meant for him and responded quickly.
“Yeah well everyone else thinks it is crap.” I was definitely taken aback by this small person’s candor.
“Oh yeah? Well that’s … rude of them to say,” I replied back, wondering how much further into the realm of ridiculous this conversation could possibly go.
It had a ways yet.
“I dunno, I don’t think it’s very good either,” he flings back nonchalantly.
“Well, why are you selling it then?” I had to know.
“I didn’t want it to go to waste.”
Well it’s some solid logic, I will give him that.
“You could always add more powder to it to make it a bit stronger,” I offer the kid, now feeling a bit sorry for him.
“No I have to spread it thin. …” Yes the kid actually said “spread it thin.”
I laughed because that term coming out of a small child’s mouth sounds completely ludicrous. He gave me an odd look that somehow made me feel inferior and then carried on.
“I need to sell a lot of glasses of juice because I need to buy a dog.” This is the moment when my heart melted just a tiny bit.
“Oh, well that’s awesome! It’s so fun to have a pet dog.” I was getting too excited about this kid’s future pet dog — I knew that much. With this exchange, it just couldn’t be as simple as a pet dog though. …
“I don’t need a pet I need a guard,” he fires back in an unnerving tone.
“So it can guard my birthday money,” he replies with a roll of the eyes and a shrug, as though I should have obviously come to this conclusion on my own.
I told him that was a very smart idea and then bought another three glasses for the road. Now that I look back at the discussion this child and I had, I wonder if I should have grabbed more information. Like why he was concerned someone was going to steal his birthday money in the first place. Or how he planned to train the dog to guard the birthday money.
But I didn’t, so instead we come to this tale’s end.
Moral of the story: There are two reasons to always stop at iced tea stands:
— For the insightful conversation.
—You never know when a kid will really, really needs to make some quick cash to purchase a guard to look after his cash.
It was the most straight-forward thing I had heard all day.
Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.