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Encourage your little ones' big ideas

Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

You gotta love her spunk. Her son isn't building an ordinary lemonade stand, so sending out e-mails to advertise it isn't that extraordinary. Her son, for his eighth birthday, wants to sell lemonade to raise money for charity. My son wants to sell lemonade so he can get a new Transformer. I won't be sending out any e-mails.

We head over to her quiet little street to make our donation and have a cool drink. But making the turn, this street is anything but quiet. We see construction signs two blocks out. And as we approach her driveway, we are met by a construction worker in a bright orange vest, a sea of trucks and orange behind him.

“Y'all going over to the lemonade stand?” he hollers over the noise.

No way she's doing this today. I give a skeptical nod, and he turns his sign from “Stop” to “Slow” and I proceed down. And there they are. With their cardboard stand. Wedged between two construction workers directing traffic around their giant machinery.

My 5-year-old takes my hand and my 2-year-old grips my neck as we make our way over to the stand while a truck roars past. A gust of wind kicks up and the lemonade gang scrambles to keep cups and napkins in place. The mom spots me:

“Can you believe this wind?” she asks.

The WIND? Oh, right. Can't let a little thing like being put at ground zero of a storm drainage project get you down.

The wind turns into a gale force, picks up the lemonade stand and spins it like Dorothy's house in “The Wizard of Oz.” But Mom wrestles it back to the ground, wedges it between two tables and continues to guide the children in their setup.

There's something about the scene that, of course, makes me laugh my head off. But it is so sweet that she's taking all this time to make her son's birthday wish a reality. I can't guess how many gallons of lemonade she's mixed. Or how long it took to teach all the kids how to make change. Or how hard it was to sit back and let him put the stand together all by himself.

But in 31/2 hours, they make just over $500. And then a local bank matches it, and $1,000 is raised for The Harvest Center. Because a little boy had an idea how to help people, and his mom got behind him and made it happen. She didn't pat him on the head and send him on his way. And she didn't let the obstacles deter him.

It's a great reminder to me that our little guys have big ideas. And it's up to us parents to encourage them so they believe they can do anything they set their minds to. I think it really does start this young. Confidence. Courage. Determination.

Yep. Best lemonade I ever had.

Tracy Curtis: tracyobserver@yahoo.com

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