Why I Always Stop at Lemonade Stands
We are delighted to be sharing a guest post from FIRST member Courtney Westlake. As many of you know, Courtney is the proud mother of seventeen month-old, Brenna Westlake, who is affected wtih Harlequin ichthyosis. Courtney’s blog, Blessed by Brenna, invites readers into the Westlake’s lives and home, taking them along on a weekly journey of medical challenges, extraordinary courage, and the most unexpected life lessons of all. Her posts are a unique blend of topics including personal insight, clinical explanations of ichthyosis, and heartwarming updates on Brenna’s amazing progress. It is not only a cultural commentary on living with a rare genetic skin disorder but an authentic, inspirational and truly unforgettable journey of love, hope and family. On this particular day, her post did not only come from Courtney, the warrior caretaker we have all grown to admire, but from Courtney the young mom of two, sharing the simple reminder: embrace the little things and see them through the eyes of a child.
Why I Always Stop at Lemonade Stands
By Courtney Westlake
I hate to be late. I am almost never late. But I was a couple of minutes late for my hair appointment the other evening.
I had come to the four-way stop at the entrance of my neighborhood, and was just about to turn left when I noticed a little boy sitting on the sidewalk in front of his house straight in front of me. He sat up a little straighter and looked my way, anticipating a potential customer. His sign read "Lemonade, 50 cents."
I have a personal policy to never go by a lemonade stand without making a purchase.
I remember well the excitement of selling lemonade, or homemade bracelets, or Girl Scout Cookies...and how much I appreciated when someone would buy from me. It rocked my little 8-year-old world.
I've been considering this a lot lately as I raise my kids. Being a good parent often means attempting to understand the world of your child. I constantly am trying to remember and remind myself what life should be like as a child - learning about responsibility and kindness and sharing, but also having the opportunity to be happy-go-lucky whenever possible.
When I am frustrated about what a mess the kids have made or that they won't eat something I know they like or when they get upset about plans changing or they want to watch a Franklin the Turtle show for the millionth time in a row, I bring myself into their world. And I recall that I was the exact same way (Sorry Mom and Dad)
It's easy to become upset with Connor for things like not moving quickly enough when we're trying to get out the door. But I remind myself "he's THREE. He doesn't know what being in a hurry means." And so I have made it more of a personal goal to not put us all in situations that frustrate everyone. I have been trying to start getting everyone ready earlier if we have to be somewhere so that I don't have to turn into Mean Mom, screeching "come on!! We're going to be late!!" and making Connor feel attacked and frustrated when he's not getting his shoes on fast enough.
When we are in the midst of a Great Toddler Meltdown (which thankfully are very rare in our house. I'm not holding out hope for that to be the case with Brenna though...sassy thing), we are trying to get on Connor's level, calm him down and show him that we understand his feelings, even if things can't always go his way, rather than just yelling "stop acting like that!"
Our relationships with our kids grow so much closer when we come into their world rather than trying to bring them into ours before they're ready - teaching and explaining and playing in ways they can understand,
instead of just expecting them to "get it."
And I am remembering how exciting little things are as a child. And it makes it exciting all over again as a parent if you embrace the little things and see them through the eyes of a child. Not only holidays and birthdays and vacations...but going to the park or the swimming pool. And a trip to the video store to pick out a new movie. And building a fort and reading books in it with a flashlight. Those moments can be purely magic for kids.
As parents, seeing life through the eyes of our child makes the good things more exciting and special, and makes the bad things easier to cope with and understand. There is nothing better than rocking a kid's little world.