But a couple of years back, while the girls down the block were watering-down Kool-aid, my daughter set up a face painting stand.
For weeks, every kid in the neighborhood was emptying their pockets and piggy banks for the pleasure of running around sporting butterflies, rainbows, cat whiskers or Spiderman faces. She took requests and gamely dived in. She carried around a sketch pad I had made for her, with outlined faces in full front and profile. She quickly filled this with elaborate ideas and riffs exploring the many ways one might approach a face as canvas. She actually made money on it. Until her face paints ran out and she discovered that the ice cream truck had made away with most of her profits and she couldn't replace them.
Then there were the duct tape wallets and bags. And the aluminum can flowers. And the hair makeovers. And the gimp bracelets. And so forth. A couple of weeks ago, I caught her searching some of my bookmarked recipe sites. “You can’t go in the kitchen”, she told me (uh oh). She'd just discovered that we have an ice cream maker; she already had a batch of something a very deep brown glooping thickly on the stove and wondered if we had any pineapple in the house.
The thing about a kid who just has to be making things all the time - particularly if such a kid is also a trend setter - is that she never lacks something original and cool to sell. Her latest enterprise is hand painted t-shirts. They're pretty cool and very much in demand and she's filling orders as fast as she can. As always, she takes requests. She's very serious about the "customer satisfaction" thing and it would be working for her but for one problem: she's just a bit too accommodating.
"Trina," she tells me enthusiastically the other day, "is going to pay me six dollars for four shirts!"
Hmm. "She's going to give you four shirts and you're going to paint them?"
"Okay, well, do you know how much they cost?" (Uh uh.) "A pack of three is at least $8. So you're losing money.
"How can I be losing money if she's going to pay me?"
"Honey, you're good at math - it costs $8 but you're only getting six."
Comprehension dawns. Then her face clears and she tries to help me with my confusion: "but you buy the shirts."
She nods, happy that she's been able to clear that up for me.
"So I spend $8, you paint some shirts and you get $6." Uh huh. "Why would I do that?"
Now she looks confused. And a little hurt.
"So I can sell t-shirts."