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Wall Street Steward Blog

Friday Night Lemonade

I am writing this blog on a chilly December Friday night.  We got home around 7:50 pm, had the kids in bed by 8, and my Mrs. went out for a glass of wine with a friend.

That left me home alone watching TV, and if you have ever found yourself in that Friday position, you know the choices:  infomercial, flavor of the week Christmas show, or the pay-per-view stuff I dare not mention.  For those of you with a life, you are probably tagging me as pathetic while you relish in the fact that you do not have small children.

I am pathetic…at least in your eyes.  But, I am also content.  Why?  Because tonight we took a bunch of lemons and made lemonade, and this is how we did it.

Our original plan was to go see “Uncle JJ” play drums in his band up in north Charlotte.  The kids adore Uncle JJ, and even though they only get to see him maybe twice a year, hold him in such high esteem that he could win a popularity contest versus Santa Claus in our household.  Needless to say, they were pumped.   

The plan was to head to the venue early so that we could hang with JJ and the kids would have plenty of time to shower him with kisses and hugs.  However, life happened.  He plays drums for a pretty big band and they have VERY little free time.  Interviews, sound checks, band meals, meetings, equipment set-up…you name it, and they gotta do it.  By the time I arrived home from work, it was evident that we were not going to make the concert.

It was 5:10 pm.  5 o’clock traffic.  Friday night.  Christmas season.  Venue is 45 minutes away without traffic.  There are 3 malls between our house and the venue.  Doors open at 6 and show starts at 7 pm.  Our kids go to bed at 8 pm. 

For those of you who have a degree in “parental math,” you can deduce why we couldn’t go.  For everyone else, the parental math goes like this:  it will be 5:25 before we can get the kids dressed, wipe their noses, find all 6 shoes and get them all in the car.   On a normal day, that would put us at the show at 6:10, but considering we would have to fight the traffic, it would be more like 6:35 or 6:40.  We go to the will-call window, claim our tickets, and then go backstage….it is 6:55.  Show starts in 5 minutes so there is NO time to talk.  We could watch a song or two, but would then have to leave without saying goodbye.  2 hours of driving for 5 minutes of visiting and 2 songs?  Not worth it.

As this fact dawned on me, I began to get nervous about how to break the news to our kids.  Their worlds would be smashed, and I had to find some way to do it with a smile.  There is nothing I dread more than disappointing my children.  If given the choice between a dental procedure or seeing my kids frown, I would have my teeth drilled out.  But, I had no choice, so I took a deep breath and delivered…

“Guys…come in here…”  feet pidder patter across the kitchen floor  “We are not gonna be able to go see Uncle JJ tonight.”

Cole, my precious 4 year old son, looked at me for 5 seconds straight.  His bottom lip crept out, while his bright eyes filled up with tears.  He was trying to hold it together.  So was I.  He started to break….and I had to think quick, and think like a 4 year old boy. 

“Here is what we are going to do.  Sometimes things in this life do not go the way we want them to.  Sometimes they get screwed up and don’t work out.  Plans change.  However, we are gonna learn a lesson tonight.  The lesson is ‘when life hands you a bunch of lemons, you make lemonade,’ and that is exactly what we are going to do.  We are going to make lemonade.  We are going to go eat pizza, get full tummies, and then go get ICE CREAM!”

I thought more like a 4 year old than I originally thought.  We had already made plans to get pizza the night after, and it was approximately 30 degrees outside so ice cream wasn’t exactly the greatest idea either.  Nobody cared…tears disappeared, lips were no longer pouting.

As we got in the car, Ava started to cry. 

###Oh my Lord, what NOW?  2 ideas in one night?  I cannot handle that!### 

She said “Daddy, why are we getting in the car?  You said we were going to make lemonade!”

Laura and I fell out.  Ava understood the statement literally, as in let’s go build a lemonade stand, squeeze some lemons, and make some cash.  It was all the levity we needed for a great night.

We had a great dinner.  Rugrats were quiet, polite, and well behaved.  The wife looked extra pretty.  Ice cream was good.  We had a family night.

So, when we tucked them into bed, and they held our hands while we prayed, it felt extra good.  To be able to satisfy their little hearts after such a disappointment was so gratifying.

The lesson is, when things get screwed up, make the most of it.  We are not promised tomorrow, so enjoy every breath in this lifetime.  From now on, when our family faces a trial, I am going to make lemonade for them.

And THAT is why I am completely content sitting at home on a Friday night with my bedroom slippers on.