Last year, my six year old was desperate to become an entrepreneur. We had passed numerous lemonade stands, and at the beach, kids were selling painted rocks and seashells. Kids were making money right in their own front yards! Ari wanted a piece of that action. He begged me to make lemonade or cookies. But I was too nervous. I had heard about the little girl in Maine who had been fined for selling lemonade without a permit. (How dare she!) Plus I was too lazy.
Without my help, Ari took matters into his own hands. He decided to sell books. The books he had made during his Kindergarten year. Books that he’d made at home. Books that he wrote for fun. And now, profit?
Out came the masterpiece called Five Bucks. (A boy had five bucks. He spent it. The end.) Next was a book about a fish who ate a shark. There was also a book about a worm who got lost in North Carolina.
As I watched Ari set up a chair and a box I got a little nervous. As I watched him make a sign to advertise, I started to worry. Selling books is no easy thing! (My rejection slips are all the proof you need.) I didn’t want Ari to experience the disappointment I’d felt so many times. The feeling that…maybe nobody wants to read my writing?
We waited. And waited. At one point he asked me to play the recorder to drum up business. So I accompanied him (500 Miles, Row, Row, Row Your Boat) as he ate snacks and waited some more. A few cars drove by slowly but didn’t stop. I asked Ari if he had a Plan B, just in case he didn’t get any customers. ”They’ll come,” he told me. ”Who wouldn’t want to buy homemade books?”
After a while, I went inside, discouraged, wondering how I would explain supply and demand to my boy. Wondering, how I would help him understand that sometimes? What we think is valuable may not be valuable to others.
And then it happened. The neighbors starting dropping by to see what Ari was doing. Mr. T from the corner bought the first three books. (He loved the simplicity of Five Bucks.) The nice lady across the street bought two. And the father two houses down brought his pre-schoolers over to buy two more.
Ari was a hit! He never once doubted his ability. I smiled watching him stuff his newly earned dollars into his piggy bank. Listened as he outlined new book ideas. Marveling at the six year old who became a summer time entrepreneur.