Three Pieces of Advice.
This is my advice. Take it or leave it.
Here's The Story.
My kids had the day off of school yesterday. After a few hours of watching t.v., a couple of "I'm bored!"s, and lunch, they went off on their own and started chatting. A few minutes later, they came back to me and said that they wanted to sell apple cider ... and maybe a few other things.
I'll admit - the "no's" popped in my head much easier than the yes-es. (Only a few were actually verbalized. You can take your guess as to which ones those were.)
No, I don't want to stop what I'm doing to help you plan this. No, you cannot pull all of your stuffed animals out to sell those. No, we cannot go sit near the main road where cars drive past at 50 mph. No, I don't want to use up all of our apple cider.
Instead of following all of the no's, though, I just stayed with each breath and let the experience unfold. Minute by minute, they came up with a plan. (Completely on their own.) They would go to the end of our street, set up a table, and sell cold apple cider at $ .75 / cup and bags of popcorn for $1.00 / bag.
I microwaved a few bags of popcorn, helped them find the cups, and scrounged up a bit of loose change. They made their sign, divided up the popcorn, packed up the cider, and figured out who would do what. I loaded up the car with some books, and drove them and their little blue fold-up table to the end of our street.
For the next two hours, they sat outside on their tiny red and yellow chairs. I drove up and down the street five more times. Once, to run home and make a large poster board. (After 10 minutes and no customers, I was feeling their disappointment. I figured the little 8 x 10 piece of paper they'd taped to their table might've been a bit difficult for drivers-by to see.) The other four times?
To pop more bags of popcorn. And, when they ran out of cider, to pull out our diet green tea so that they could sell that.
Here's the Advice.
- Parents: As much as possible, while maintaining your own sanity and need for space, say YES when your children want to follow through on a creative idea. Today, when we walked up to the bus stop, both of them (separately) mentioned how COOL it was that they did the sale. The light in their eyes and excitement in their step as they recounted the evening reflected a way of being that embodies everything I could ever want for my children.
I know, there are always a million reasons to say no. (We ended up making sandwiches for dinner last night because, in between microwaving bags of popcorn, I didn't have time to make the dinner I had planned to. And the laundry? Didn't get done.) But that experience that you provide your child when you say yes? It is far more powerful than a billion logical reasons for no.
- ALWAYS ALWAYS STOP when you see children having a cider stand (or lemonade stand, or green tea stand) on the side of the road. I cannot tell you what joy swelled in their being when our neighbor, turning down our street to come home, became their first customer. He even gave them a bit of extra change. When he left, they were giddy.
Car after car, neighbor after neighbor pulled up to buy a bag of popcorn or a drink. During each exchange, the kids became a bit more comfortable with the process...and thrilled by what they were doing. Some customers gave them money and helped them figure out how to make change. Others threw in a bit extra. But the kids weren't even that interested in the money.
It was the process of following through on something they had created, the fact that others - adults! - were coming to them for something, the experience that was lighting up their being.
I wanted to hug every person who stopped. They gave my children something far more valuable than the $1.75 that they'd scrounged in change from underneath their car seats.
- Take a lesson from my children and CREATE. Don't worry about how many people are going to want what you are selling, how much you are going to make, or how much cider is actually left in the fridge. Do you want to make little acorn figures? Do it. Do you feel an urge to finger paint all over a huge piece of canvas, or perhaps on your walls? Do it. Do you want to dance feverishly with naked feet in a grassy knoll? Do it. (and tell me where you are going - I'll join you.)
I promise - once you open to those creative desires, others respond. You are going to get a lot of people driving by, and that's ok. You aren't dancing or painting or selling for them. You are doing this for the experience, and for those who DO stop.
You are doing this for that little smile that is exchanged as both of you know you are getting far more than you are offering. That's the beauty of the creative gift.
So that's my advice. Take it or ....
Just take it, please.