Read the original: On the Personal Property Rights of Children; or, Why Our Lemonade Stand Failed

My daughter is a Mama’s girl (for now).  She wants to be a little Mama. She wants to put on makeup and do her nails.  She wants to help make pancakes and cookies. She wants her Mama to play and practice gym and snuggle in bed and cries if she isn’t there at night.  She’s taken over Mama’s childhood pet name, ladybug. And she’s always trying to start businesses.

I did my duty with the last attempt, where we failed to give away free homemade cookies.  I learned a lesson, even if my daughter didn’t, so there was no way I was going out there for another one.  It was Mama’s turn, which was just fine with both of them. My wife is an entrepreneur and PT website guru. She reads a ton of marketing books and coaches people on selling, so she’s well aware of such universal truths as buy low, sell high.  She bought lemonade at ALDI and was charging money for it. I relaxed on the couch with a smug smile. This would never work. She only made like 30 bucks.

As I said, people love to throw money at little kids on the side of the road.  You see a cute little girl dancing around, working hard, taking the initiative, and you want to reward it.  Also, most people apparently don’t have quarters, so if you ask for one, they will probably just give you whatever denomination of bill they happen to have in their wallet.  So she got way more than she needed or expected. Mama tried to teach her a little about marketing, a little about saving, a little about giving. She bought an LOL doll and a pink teddy bear she’d had her eyes on.  She still can’t keep track of her purse.

It’s hard not to enjoy her excitement when the cars stop, the seriousness as she makes the drinks, the smile as she takes the bills, the joy with which she comes home and counts it, a scheming look in her eyes.  Even if she doesn’t make the best decisions, having some decisions to make is a good thing. A kid need to have some possessions of her own, even if only so she can learn how little they matter, how to give them up and give them away, how to let her little brother touch them without getting hysterical (we’re still working on that one), how to appreciate them and take care of them.  It does not take away from the truth that our possessions are gifts to say that they are ours. That’s the nature of a gift.

I worry about her becoming a responsible person.  She has that drive in her. But irresponsibility isn’t the answer.  I want her to be responsible to something higher than money and toys and comfort and herself.  I hope she can learn that from me. But it’s true you must receive before you can give, and that to get gifts is a lesson in giving them, and that I am terrible at both.  For that, I am thankful for my wife, who is strong precisely where I am weak. She can handle the lemonade stands and all the gifts that come with it. My daughter needs that, too, so I’ll consider it a blessing that she’s a Mama’s girl (for now).

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