Lessons learnt at a lemonade stand

Today dawned like many others do in Albury during winter, overcast, foggy and cold, which naturally meant that the kids decided that they needed to play outside wearing as little warm clothing as possible. Around lunchtime Buster Boy announced that he and the Troll Princess had decided that they’d like to make some lemonade and took a shopping bag out with them to begin collecting lemons from the tree in the back yard. Eventually they returned, hauling a very full bag stuffed with lemons that they’d been able to reach, and declared that they were going to open a lemonade stand.

While the idea of the kids having a lemonade stand on the nature strip seemed incredibly cute, the pessimist in me thought that we would spend the afternoon placating disappointed children. Nevertheless we set about finding a recipe for fresh lemonade and getting to work in the kitchen. The lemons from our tree were amazing, the juice almost exploded from them as I cut them in halves and it took no time to get enough to make our lemonade.

While the lemonade cooled Buster Boy set about preparing his lemonade stand. With the help of the Troll Princess he made a sign, found some disposable cups and a tin for the money he hoped to make, and brought a table and chairs from the Troll Princess’ room to the front yard. By this time the fog had lifted, the clouds had parted and the sun began to illuminate our street.

lemonade stand2.jpg

Still feeling pessimistic I went inside to phone our next door neighbour and another friend who I hoped could come over and provide some custom for the lemonade stand. Both phones rang out. I managed to reach our friend’s wife who told us that he was still at sport with the kids for another half an hour or so, and while on the phone I heard the front door slam open and the Troll Princess holler “We’ve got a customer!”.

Sure enough, a passing car had seen the kids out the front, pulled over, and bought a cup of lemonade. The kids were ecstatic, Rach and I were a little dumbstruck. Then it happened again, and again, and again. Complete strangers pulled up to buy cups of lemonade, and were pleasantly surprised when they discovered that the lemonade was actually quite nice. Along the way the Troll Princess decided to abandon the heady world of beverage service to play with the girl next door, but Buster Boy remained resolute. Soon enough the lemonade had run out and I was sent to the kitchen to prepare another batch, and then to the supermarket to buy more cups.

It was fantastic seeing all of these people give some time and a few cents to take part in the kids’ endeavour, they represented a range of ages and without exception treated our kids with warmth and respect. I don’t think I can adequately explain how proud Buster Boy was of himself, the lemonade stand was his idea and he sat on the nature strip until the sun had fallen below Nail Can Hill before he would consider shutting up shop for the day.

The whole experience was an amazing reminder of how wonderful people can be, and what good things can happen if you trust your kids and let them make decisions for themselves. It would have been very easy to dismiss the idea of the lemonade stand, the thought certainly occurred to me, so I’m glad that it ended up showing the kids that they can be rewarded for working hard and believing in themselves.

And what you all really want to know, they made twelve dollars.

What happened to Buster Boy?

Yesterday afternoon we faced the disconcerting task of chasing down Buster Boy after he didn’t make it home to the bus stop. He’s only been catching the bus for a bit over a week, and only on a few days during that time, so this week was supposed to be the start of a regular routine. Not knowing where your child is has to be one of the classic fears of a parent, so it’s interesting to reflect, 24 hours after the event, on what happened and how we all reacted.

We’d waited at the bus stop for a long time with no sign of the bus and had assumed that it was extremely late as we’d arrived at the right time and hadn’t seen it drive past. That was when my phone rang. The call that we got from the school said that Buster Boy had caught the wrong bus and gone to West Albury. We both thought that seemed strange as he’s very good at remembering details, but didn’t dwell on it as we were more concerned with when he’d get home. We were told he’d been transferred to another bus and would be dropped at his normal bus stop soon. At that point we decided to split up, Rach stayed at the bus stop where Buster Boy gets dropped off in the afternoon and I walked to the other side of the block where he gets picked up in the morning.

After a short wait a bus rolled around the corner and pulled up at my stop, there was no sign of Buster Boy so I assumed that he’d got off at the other stop where Rach had been waiting. I rounded the corner and looked up the hill to see Rach and the Troll Princess, but no Buster Boy. At this point the concern really began to kick in.

I called the bus company to find out what was going on. It turned out that Buster Boy had been on the right bus, he’d told the driver that she’d gone the wrong way, so she assumed he should be in West Albury, which was where he was now headed. I was placed on hold while they got in contact with the bus driver to organise somewhere for us to meet. I was told to be in town in fifteen minutes, the bus would meet us at the last stop in town before it went back to Wodonga. We rushed home, grabbed the car, and raced to the bus stop where we nervously waited.

After what seemed an eternity a green and white bus lurched into the bus stop and Buster Boy hopped off and ran over to us for a hug. We looked for blotchy eyes, or tear stained cheeks, but saw neither; he’d held it together through the whole ordeal, only letting the tears fall once he was safely back with us.

Rach and I felt absolutely horrible. Buster Boy had been on the right bus, so we figured that we must have been late to the bus stop, and were therefore the cause of his distressing afternoon. It was made even worse when through his tears he started to apologise for not getting home.

What came next was rather confusing, Buster Boy said that he’d missed his stop because the driver, who he hadn’t seen before “didn’t go up the hill”. He told us that when the bus started going in an unfamiliar direction he went to talk to the driver, telling her the street that he lived in and even pointing it out as they drove past. Rach and I didn’t know what to make of this, we didn’t doubt what Buster Boy had told us, but we also couldn’t imagine why the bus would deviate from its route.

We took him home, comforted him, and tried to reassure him that it would be OK to come home on the bus again. Buster Boy wasn’t convinced, so we agreed to leave any further discussion until morning. Despite that, Buster Boy told us again, more than once, that the new driver had gone a different way and that’s why he’d missed his stop. The certainty with which he told this story had me wondering where on earth the bus could have gone.

This morning we made a note to put in with Buster Boy’s bus pass, with his bus number and the stop where he gets off in the afternoon. Buster Boy wasn’t happy about coming home on the bus again, but realised that he wasn’t going to win the argument. We walked to the bus stop and Buster Boy obviously still felt some anxiety about the return trip, in honesty I did too.

By this stage I was almost convinced that there’d been some unaccounted for change of the bus route yesterday, but couldn’t imagine how or why. I rang the bus company to say thanks for the way they’d looked after Buster Boy, but hoped that I’d have an opportunity during the conversation to ask whether the bus had taken a detour for some reason. The opportunity didn’t present itself, I was left wondering.

As the time for the bus grew near this afternoon the sky remained grey and the rain poured down. Nevertheless, I went to the bus stop about twenty minutes early and stood beneath my umbrella, still with a slight pang of guilt, thinking that perhaps the bus had been early yesterday and we’d missed it. Today the bus pulled up on schedule, and my heart leaped as I saw Buster Boy tearing down the aisle to be first at the door. As the bus came to a stop I could see the driver talking to Buster Boy and as the door opened I caught the tail end of the conversation.

From what I could gather she was telling him that he should have said that this was his stop yesterday when she asked, and that had she known she would have come this way. Buster Boy was right, she didn’t go up the hill. She must have asked the kids on the bus as a group if any of them got off at Chambers St, the other kids from his stop weren’t on yesterday and Buster Boy wouldn’t have known the answer, so she took a short cut.

After a big hug, Buster Boy told me that he’d shown the bus driver his note, and what’s more he’d told her that she needed to go up the hill today. I was proud that he’d overcome this morning’s anxiety and taken some control of his situation, but the best was yet to come. As we walked down the hill towards home, hand in hand, Buster Boy looked up to me from underneath the little hood on his wet weather jacket and said, “Dad, you were right. It is OK going on the bus in the afternoon”, my heart soared. One of the wonderful things about kids is how quickly they can regain their confidence.

We got home to Rach and the Troll Princess and plenty more hugs. I retired to the kitchen to put make some hot chocolates and share what I’d heard with Rach. Her relief was palpable, quickly followed by a sense of absolute disbelief that a bus driver who was unfamiliar with all of the kids on her bus would change her route. Personally, I’m just glad to know that on this occasion we hadn’t failed our little boy, and that whatever worries he had have been well and truly dispatched.

Nazis, wise men and baby Jesus

A few years ago Mrsdave and I decided to find a kid proof nativity scene to try to divert some of the Christmas time attention away from the fat man in the red suit. We eventually settled on a cheery looking wooden set that proved quite popular with Buster Boy and the Troll Princess. So popular was the nativity set that there was an enormous amount of vocal opposition when it was packed away with the Christmas tree at the end of the season.

Over the last few days the nativity scene has had a rare outing, after the Troll Princess saw some Christmas footage in an old home movie. While the Troll Princess is quite happy to play out domestic scenes with Mary, Joseph, the infant Christ and the wooden manger, Buster Boy prefers to mould the nativity into different stories.

At breakfast this morning, Buster Boy treated us to his latest adventure story with the nativity scene, I’d like to share it with you all, but even more than that I’d really like to introduce his cast. Continue reading “Nazis, wise men and baby Jesus”

Dr Panadol (or How I stopped worrying and learnt to love the drops)

The Troll Princess has spent the last few days suffering the effects of a particularly nasty virus. Her predicament, along with some tweets from Deckchair Guru about his little one bought to mind the first time Buster Boy suffered from ill health, and how it affected us as new parents.

Continue reading “Dr Panadol (or How I stopped worrying and learnt to love the drops)”

Truth in parenting

There’s a wonderful irony in parenting, that we want to imbue our children with a strong moral code and yet we will tell them bald faced lies when it suits our purpose. We tell ourselves that the deceptions are for their own good, whether to entertain them or shield them, and that it is alright to hide the truth, despite the fact that one of the first morals that we try to teach toddlers is honesty. Continue reading “Truth in parenting”

Start ’em young

I know that pushy parenting, where people direct their offspring towards pursuits they feel the kids should succeed in, is out of vogue. There have been countless articles in the press about how destructive this type of behaviour is to the child, regardless of how highly they may succeed at the parents’ chosen task.

‘Tennis Dads’ have been demonised, along with pretty much every other parent who’s decided to coach or tutor their children from an early age, but the truth is that those who we see on the world stage almost universally share one trait, they have been committed to their vocation from the time they were upright. Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Venus and Serena Williams, David Helfgott, Tiger Woods, every one of them have beaten the world in a field that they began before they entered kindergarten.

With this in mind, I’ve decided that it would be irresponsible to let my kids fall behind. I realise that the path I’m about to embark upon will be a difficult one for all of us, but one day we will be able to bask in their success and look back on today as the point where it all began.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Buster Boy and the Troll Princess.

Rocking out to Lenny Kravitz
Rocking out to Lenny Kravitz

Man I love Guitar Hero.

Still no casualties

Friday morning and everything continues to run smoothly despite the absence of Mrsdave from the compound. Apart from the Troll Princess’s little indiscretion last night, dinner, baths and bed time went quite well. I also learnt a few new things about parenting.

Firstly, kids will eat a Mexican pizza with extra jalapeños if there’s nothing else on offer, anyone who tells you different is a parent who doesn’t understand discipline or a liar. It only takes nine or ten minutes for them to start getting used to the burn and stop crying and then they’re good to go.

Secondly, should some jalapeño seeds inadvertently end up near the kids eyes they will be quite keen to get into the bath, avoiding the confrontations that sometimes occur over this activity.

Thirdly, corn flakes prepared the night before and left in the fridge for your four year old to retrieve are still palatable and are a great way to get an extra hour of sleep in. The pre prepared toast wasn’t such a hit so Buster Boy and I will be having lessons on how to use the toaster today.

The only thing troubling me at the moment is that we seem to be running out of clean plates and there’s stuff spread everywhere throughout the house. I’ll check the yellow pages later today to see if I can find someone to sort that out.