It’s been wicked hot in Philly, but the heat broke on Saturday and we found ourselves with an open weekend with nothing on the books.
I was tempted to get in the car and head to the big box stores to run errands and get all of the shopping out of the way (empty refrigerator, I’m looking at you!)
But the dogs needed a good walk, and so did we, so we took off on foot.
Marco turns 12 later this month. Time with him feels extra precious these days …
He still enjoys our company, but there are flashes of independence that tell me he is soon to turn a tricky corner to puberty town, that crazy lil’ tourist trap on the road to adulthood.
We decided to walk to Chestnut Hill, the next neighborhood over. There are lots of shops and restaurants lining the cobblestone streets there; the type of place we look for when we’re off on a road trip.
Here’s a happy memory I often have when we’re walking around Chestnut Hill. It’s from 2015, Marco was five and my parents were visiting.
A couple years ago (or was it just one?), we started allowing Marco to walk to Chestnut Hill on his own, as long as he had a buddy or two with him. It’s about a 35-minute walk to get there. We’d previously allowed him to take short bike rides and dog walks but just around our neighborhood.
Marco doesn’t have a phone, and the first couple of times he went, I asked him to wear his watch and return at a set time. That gave me a little reassurance in exchange for his newfound freedom.
When he returned before the agreed-upon time, with bags of candy in hand, it was the best feeling. Which I immediately tried really hard not to express. Pretty sure he was doing the same thing.
I remember he broke a smile but added an eye roll to be sure we all knew this was NO BIG DEAL. A win for both of us, and I didn’t even have to embarrass him with a giant hug in front of his friends!!
On Saturday’s walk, Marco guided the way. He took us on back streets and cut through a local school’s campus.
He walked a couple of paces ahead. That always breaks my heart a little.
We had a nice lunch and hit a few boutiques. On the way back, we talked about something Marco’s wanted to do all summer: run a lemonade stand.
Saturday night was spent squeezing four bags of lemons and cooking up simple syrup.
Marco got to work making a sign and a ledger of expenses as we explained what profit means.
On Sunday morning, we headed down to Weaver’s Way, the neighborhood co-op, a few blocks away. A food truck and foot traffic offered encouragement.
We got him all set up, and then …. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to leave him alone, but this was his show.
“We need to leave,” Rich advised.
So we walked away.
And I was struck by that thought again … of how the long process of growing up can feel like a precise moment in time.
Instead of walking home, we decided to hang out “in the wings” for a while. We went to the Weaver’s Way Mercantile – which is brimming with lots of new vintage, if you haven’t been lately. Check out @weaverswaymerc on Instagram.
Then I popped into Wild Hand and finally found the perfect yarn for a ropey beach cover-up I wanted to make for our spring road trip to Disney World. (oh well). I had a nice chat with Liz, the owner of the shop, who, like me, took a big career leap when she decided to quit her “regular” job to pivot to a completely new endeavor.
We caught glimpses of Marco in action as we walked from shop to shop. It was so hard not to check in. Seeing him chatting up customers and serving up lemonade was something I’ll never forget.
He sold more lemonade when we weren’t there.
He told us one guy even paid him to watch his dog while he shopped in the Co-op. This nice man also bought a lemonade before he went in, and another when he came out.
We couldn’t have been more proud of Marco and his first business venture. I hope it won’t be his last.
He’s not going to want to be a boy with a lemonade stand forever.