The promise of summer

Z has been begging us to let her set up a lemonade stand since winter. No sooner had we explained that people don't tend to stop and buy ice cold lemonade when there's two feet of snow on the ground, than we had to put the kibosh on her new plan: going door to door selling hot chocolate in February.

"We'll do a lemonade stand this summer, Z," I solemnly vowed.

"You promise?" she said, unconvinced.

"I promise."

When summer reared its sweaty head a few weeks ago, she started begging again in earnest, convincing me to buy some lemonade mix and debating the best size cup for maximum profit. She spent some time making - and, after her sister defaced the first one, remaking- a lemonade stand sign. Finding the perfect spot to set up was the easy part: the gazebo at the end of our cul de sac is shady and quaint. She was ready.

Every few days she asked if this could be the day and I always put her off, for one reason or another. It wasn't hot enough, people don't want lemonade unless it's really hot. We didn't have enough time that afternoon; we need lots of time to make the lemonade, set up, sell, and clean up. Mostly, it all boiled down to this: I didn't feel like it.

I was the Scrooge of lemonade stands.

Last Tuesday was the first really, really hot day of summer. We didn't have anything we had to do or anywhere we had to go.

I took a long blink and a deep breath and told her to get out the lemonade mix.

You should have seen her face. This Scrooge felt more than a little guilty for withholding that kind of joy for so long.

Once we set up, it took two minutes before she was lamenting the lack of real customers (apparently her sister pilfering from the till doesn't count). Luckily, it took only three minutes for the first customer to show up.

The First Sale Victory Dance.

Frankly, I was shocked at how many people stopped. Until I took this picture:

I know I'm biased but really, how could you resist buying lemonade from these two?

The girls smiled and waved at every car that passed by, barely bothered by the gnats swarming around our faces. Very few cars passed by without stopping or at least promising to come back later. The girls hopped up and down every time and Z could barely keep it together, she was so excited by her success.

By the end of it, they were exhausted and elated: They had sold out! Everyone told them how great the lemonade was! Next time we'll sell COOKIES TOO!

"Can we do that again tomorrow, Mama?!" Z asked, batting at her ear.

"Not tomorrow, sweetheart, but sometime soon, sure." I hedged.

"You promise?"

"I promise."

Over dinner that night, Z complained fiercely about her ear, she was sure there was a bug in it, and it was driving her crazy. CG was working late and I couldn't see anything in there, even using two different flashlights, looking from every angle short of standing on my head. Dr. Google recommended flushing it out with water, which I tried to no avail. Since she was seriously carrying on, I piled both girls into the car and headed out to the closest urgent care.

They got us into a room after about a half hour and the doctor quickly confirmed that there was, in fact, a bug in her ear. But it was deep inside her ear canal and to get it out Z would have to lie perfectly still so that he wouldn't damage her eardrum.

Unfortunately, Z is not one to lie still when scared or in pain or BOTH.

"Z, I promise, if you lie still, it will be over super fast."

"Promise it won't hurt?"

"It shouldn't hurt, if you lie still," I said, not looking her in the eye.

An hour and many screams later, he suggested we try the ER, where they would have better, smaller instruments. And possibly someone used to wrestling badgers.

By now, CG had picked up E, thank goodness, as she had taken to flinging herself off of the exam table trailing the paper sheet behind her like a worthless parachute.

As Z and I headed off to the ER, she asked me endless questions about the hospital: had I ever been there- no having babies didn't count- what will they do to her ear, would it hurt, what would it look like, would she have to stay there overnight....

"Promise it won't hurt when they take the bug out?"

"They'll do their best," was all I could say, knowing better than to promise now.

We joined the other sad sacks in the ER waiting room: a feverish baby asleep on her mom's shoulder, a teenager doubled over a barf bin, a dusty man holding gauze on his forehead, a toothless woman shuffling around and smiling at people and walls, all of us waiting for our turn. Waiting for our luck to turn.

"Promise you'll come back with me. Promise there's no shot or surgery. Promise you'll stay with me." she begged, her big eyes staring at the lone retching teenager.

"I promise." I said easily, relieved by my confidence in these promises. I kissed her cheek, right below her wet eyelashes, just above a smattering of brand new freckles. "I promise."

It was finally our turn and the doctor tried three different ways to get the bug out, each time more impossible than the last until she finally emerged from behind the curtain with a long syringe.


"It's not a shot, Z. I promise. It's. NOT. A. SHOT." My face was pleading, my hands squeezing her arms.

"You promise?" Her eyes, bloodshot from crying, searched my face.

"I swear to you. I promise. I PROMISE."

The syringe got the bug out, a tiny biting gnat, full of Z's blood. We saved it, curled up in a paper towel and smushed into my purse.

As we drove home, the lights of the freeway a blurry moving picture, she closed her eyes.

"I'm glad the bug is out, Mama."

"Me, too, Boo."

"Can we have a lemonade stand again tomorrow?"

"Not tomorrow, but soon, I promise. And next time, we'll be sure to put on bug spray."


Swistle said...


Doing My Best said...

WOW! How were they able to tell it was in there since it was so small?
I think you win MAJOR POINTS for taking her in; I probably would have waited until the next day to make sure mine wasn't imagining things (we all know how VERY VERY FUN! it is to go to Urgent Care/ER!)! My kids will thank you someday if they ever tell me they have a bug in their ear because I will remember this post and take them in ASAP =).

Marie Green said...

Oh, poor baby! A bug in her ear! That would drive me CRAZY!!!

Cortney said...

Having just (barely) survived a 4 hr stint in the ER with my 18 month old that involved a cast on his leg, my heart just wrenches reading this. Going to the ER with a small child is definitely one of my most dreaded parenting moments. Glad you took her seriously (I may not have) and that you and Z survived the trauma.

twisterfish said...

I hope to be driving in your neighborhood the next time they hold a lemonade/cookie stand. They are too precious.

So glad the bug is out and she still wants to get back outside! I think if it had been me I'd lock myself inside with earmuffs on for years and never drink lemonade again.

Gina said...

Ack! Bug in her ear - drinking her blood! That is something out of a horror movie.

Very good mothering instincts to take her in - I am sure my parents would have assumed I was just imagining things.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Honestly, I didn't believe her. She is a tad bit.... melodramatic about things sometimes. But when I was peering in there with a flashlight, I thought I maybe saw it shining back at me, like off of a bug's eye? But I couldn't be sure. And she was carrying on so hysterically that I was sure she wouldn't sleep unless we got to the bottom of it.

Mostly, I was terrified it was a tick, since we live in an area with a very high incidence of Lyme Disease.

The urgent care doctor confirmed that it wasn't a tick but made it sound like a dire emergency anyway. Hence the trip to the ER.

The ER doctor shrugged her shoulders and said she'd go in after it, but she whispered to me that it was probably okay to leave it there as it would probably "work its way out on its own". After all we had been through, I just wanted that damn thing out of there!

B said...

I was just thinking about how happy I am it is Summer and how June is my very favorite month because it is just the beginning of summer, full of promise, and then I read this post! The lemonade stand and your girls are precious! I stopped at a similar stand last week, but those girls were only charging $.10 and I told them they should charge more. $.25 seems like a good price- so your girls are right on the mark. So glad that bug was removed- poor Z- that must have been awful! In my 4.5 years of parenting I have thankfully only had one ER trip, and it was traumatizing.

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

Sorry about the whole bug thing. That's no fun for anyone.

as for the lemonade stand, M has been BEGGING for one. And I feel like the bad parent because we live on a busy street on a hill. NO ONE will stop by. I am very jealous of your cul de sac and nice neighbors that stopped (though, not so much your bugs and the need for bug spray).

Beyond Diapers said...

I like the pics... the same dress reminds the reader that it was all the same long day.

Blog Designed by: NW Designs