Welcome, Mamma Crew!  Today is Mamma Thursdays when it’s all about us!  The mammas! But, as I said in the previous episode, today I will be talking about the Fall Festival instead.

I can’t help but feel strange celebrating fall in the Caribbean where the fall doesn’t touch the leaves, but our friends needed our support. Christina and Jerry,  you have never met a lovelier couple, put on a yearly Fall Festival both to raise funds for their program and to raise awareness for it. They are both leaders in the local chapter of Young Lives, an organization for adolescents. The staff and volunteers spend time building bridges of authentic friendship with the teens, you know, where the teens are, as they are, to focus on what matters to them, fun, adventure, friendship, and a sense of importance in a world that is becoming increasingly complex as they leave childhood behind. The organization does have a non-denominational religious component, though the depth of it, we have not investigated. We do know that at least the local chapter doesn’t push anything on anyone, so we are always happy to support our friends in their endeavors. Because we know that Christina and Jerry do a great job in our community so we fully support their efforts. In fact, if you would like to support them as well, you may do so through this link. You will find it in our blog: Young Lives in Humacao, Puerto Rico. In their generosity, Christina and Jerry invited the Young Entrepreneur Club in which my daughters participate to join their event, something that I did not support as wholeheartedly as I probably should have. It made me very nervous.

I mean, I have always supported my children in all of their endeavors.  Emmi, who once wanted to be a doctor, got a real stethoscope, and together we watched endless hours of Doc McStuffin, not to mention getting up at 3 in the morning to attempt to get the Doc McStuffins Toy Hospital Care Cart from Toys R’ Us for Christmas. Later I stood hours in the heat dealing with a fire ant infestation after infestation, while both Emmi and Andy attempted to become equestrians. They did win a couple of medals, by the way. Now there are hours invested in Emmi’s and Dora’s desire to become performers and countless hours helping Andy become the superhero of her dreams.  Bug is still at the age where he wants to be any number of assorted cartoon characters. PJ Mask, Ironman, Spider Man. You never know; it’s the flavor of the day. But after being married to an entrepreneur for 15 years, it terrified me to allow my kids to explore entrepreneurship. Because I know that with entrepreneurship come some hard fails. And that’s really the crux of being an entrepreneur; if you want to succeed, you have to be willing to fail. And, was I really willing to allow my three 12-year-olds to fail?  Yes, I know. Failing is part of learning. But how much pain and how soon do I expose my kids to a high level of disappointment is something I have yet to figure out fully. The Fall Festival really felt like trial by fire.  

Dora and Andy decided to partner up for their first entrepreneurial endeavor. It didn’t surprise me since the two play well but it shocked me because they DO NOT, trust me when I say this, work well together. Yet they did manage to decide that they should sell an Inflatable Duck and a Water Flask that they found on sale. However, back to what I said about them not working well together, they couldn’t decide on the resale price for the Fall Festival. Andy wanted to sell the Inflatable Duck for one dollar less than they paid for each of the duck. She was very concerned a family wouldn’t be able to afford these ducks.  While Dora wished to double the original price. Here was the first battle between the two. Andy was concerned about the pockets of these families. And Dora was concerned, and more interested in making a profit! After a long battle, I helped them compromise and meet in the middle to settle on the price. Interestingly enough, they didn’t have a problem deciding on a profitable price for the Water Flask. Or the Scrunchies they also decided to sell. The cupcakes were another insane battle! They wanted to charge $1 per tiny little cupcake. After a lot of debate, they finally settled on $1 for 2 cupcakes. But of course, this was not the end of the war. They argued incessantly over the signs. Andy wanted to spend all of her time creating this maze of signs, with designs and colors and Dora wanted to do the least amount of work possible. It wouldn’t have been a problem except that Dora felt she should spend as much time as Andy working on the signs and tried to pressure her sister to stop working. Andy is incredibly self-sufficient and independent. No one is going to tell her when or what she should be doing, let alone for how long she should be doing it. So, the drama flailed on and on. And yes, as usual, Mom was caught in the middle. 

You would think that my sensible Emmi would be easier, but that was not the case this time! She had trouble committing to her partnership with her dear friend, Ella. Emmi just had no interest in selling anything and struggled to express anything other than indifference in the whole project. As a result, communication was severely limited between the two. After much ambivalence, Emmi purchased 6 dozen Chic-fil-A cookies in Florida, and we flew them back in our luggage so that she could sell them at the festival. She also got some cute headbands to sell. Luckily for Emmi, Ella was happy to create the signs and bake cupcakes as a promotion. Buy one headband, get a free cupcake! Still, I could see no excitement in Emmi’s face, and that really worried me. This isn’t like my Emmi. Emmi always throws herself into things full-heartedly. And she always does her best. And in this case, she wasn’t willing to even attempt to commit. The only thing that interested her was the two four-song sets she would be performing at the Fall Festival. But even then, I didn’t see the usual excitement. I mean, Emmi is a performer. She loves it! This is something that means a lot to her. And here she was ambivalent, even somber, something very uncommon in her vivacious personality.  I couldn’t help but wonder if there was another emotion hiding beneath that cool exterior. And of course, I was very concerned about that.  

I was really worried about the war between Dora and Andy, and Emmi’s cool indifference. Not the right way to enter their first entrepreneurial experience.  So I was really holding my breath as we arrived at the actual Fall Festival with Bug in tow, the only member of the family truly happy to be there! And it was Bug’s enthusiasm that forced me to snap out of it.  12 and 13 are a great age to stumble and understand that mistakes are nothing but learning opportunities. If the girls failed as entrepreneurs, they would be sure to learn something of value from the experience. And, I would be right next to them to encourage them to dust off and try their hand at it again or whatever other interests they decide to pursue.  Everything was going to be fine.

So with a light heart, I decided to enjoy my four-year-old boy and Bug and I took off to enjoy the Fall Festival and support Young Lives.  Christina and Jerry did such a great job of providing fun things for my little one to do! We got to feed a bunch of hungry goats! And, oh my god, does that creep me out, when you’re feeding them and you could feel their little teeth! Ugh! And the slimy saliva! But Bug really enjoyed it so we kept feeding these goats on, and on, and on. 

Ready to Bounce!

We also got to enjoy the bouncy house. I was really grateful that Bug is old enough that I didn’t need to jump in after him. It wasn’t so long ago that I was jumping in after the twins!  Only 8 years later, I feel too old to do that again! But fortunately, Bug was really enjoying himself so over and over, Bug jumped in and out of the bouncy inflatable maze until I finally decided that the kids joining him were a little too big. They were running over my poor little Buggy Bug!  So we went to check out the cake I had entered in the dessert contest.

My poor cake was an epic fail!  Oh, trust me when I tell you, my Buckeye cake is delicious!  In fact, if you would like the recipe, go check it out on the blog. You will find it by clicking on the Buckeye cake at the end of the show transcript. But for some reason, probably the heat, the cake was kept in a refrigerated bag throughout the testing contest.  It wasn’t until after the contest was over that it got pulled out of the bag. Luckily it went pretty fast. It was a good thing too because I couldn’t afford to bring it home and gain another pound!  In fact, I’m supposed to be losing, not gaining weight. So laughing about it, Bug and I decided to go hang out with his sisters.  

So, we get to sisters. And we find out that it was a little more than too hot and humid to have a bunch of cupcakes lying about. So Andy took the initiative and started handing out free cupcakes to everyone she could at the festival. But her pitch left a lot to be desired. It was hysterical, “Come and get them before the flies do! Free cupcakes!” I couldn’t help but laugh! She was having such a great time handing out her free cupcakes. It never dawned on her that she was cutting into the profit of all of the kids there because well, most of the kids were there trying to sell baked goods. Including her sister, who was selling Chic-fil-A cookies. But Andy did buy from every kid at the festival. Indeed she even made a large purchase of brownies from a kid who was very upset by his low sales. And, she doesn’t even like chocolate!

So, we get to sisters. And we find out that it was a little more than too hot and humid to have a bunch of cupcakes lying about. So Andy took the initiative and started handing out free cupcakes to everyone she could at the festival. But her pitch left a lot to be desired. It was hysterical, “Come and get them before the flies do! Free cupcakes!” I couldn’t help but laugh! She was having such a great time handing out her free cupcakes. It never dawned on her that she was cutting into the profit of all of the kids there because well, most of the kids were there trying to sell baked goods. Including her sister, who was selling Chic-fil-A cookies. But Andy did buy from every kid at the festival. Indeed she even made a large purchase of brownies from a kid who was very upset by his low sales. And, she doesn’t even like chocolate!

Dora, on the other hand, was a consummate salesperson.  She picked up a box with the inflatable duck, went all over the festival, hustling her goods! The girl had charisma! I never knew this self-motivated charmer’s side of her.  It was amazing to watch this evolve so organically. A glow came over her as she tried to convince prospective buyers to buy the inflatable ducks and scrunchies. Still, I felt bad for the family who ended up with 4 of the ducks!  Thank you, guys! It meant a lot to my daughter that she was able to do this on her own. And, it was amazing to watch.

Emmi just wasn’t into the selling portion of the festival, but her dear friend Ella did have a blast at their booth. Ella is the sweetest kid!  It charmed me the way that she enthusiastically attempted to sell the cookies and headbands. There was always a smile on her face as she practiced her sales pitch! All the while, Emmi seem aloof, carefully inspecting the crowd. It was then I realized the challenge she was about to face!

My beautiful Emmi is used to performing at recitals and family gatherings, not a free-for-all Fall Festival!  There was no actual stage! The sound system sounded off! Emmi is a very practical young woman. She understood even before I did that this performance was going to be a real challenge for her. And, she was not mistaken!  During the first set, people kept walking and talking right before her as she was performing. They kept interrupting her flow and her concentration. She was really struggling. At the same time, a lot of people stopped to listen to her, take photos, and videos!  People were amazed by her voice and someone even commented that they thought it was Spotify, not a live performer. But I’m here to tell you, that’s really her voice. Still, I could see that all the traffic was throwing her off, she was really struggling to let her personality shine through. She was unusually stiff and quiet and she was having a hard time smiling. 

My only solace was that I had reminded her that her number one fan would be there for moral support throughout both sets. You got it, ME! Of course, Bug was there too. He is her number two fan! I smiled and swayed to the music. She kept looking to me for support and she found she had it every time. The first set was nowhere near as hard as the second set because the lights failed to arrive. The sound system sounded even worse. She was basically singing in pitch black with everyone leaving. Oh, my heart just broke, but she was a little professional and she did her best to the end.   

So were my girls ready to fail? I don’t know because I honestly don’t feel that a single one experienced failure. Andy had an absolutely fabulous time! I mean, the girl was smiling ear-to-ear. She was running around — she was just plain old happy! And she really really enjoyed giving away those free cupcakes! Dora found out that she is a great salesperson. I mean, you should’ve seen this girl smile! Maybe she’s found her calling?  And Emmi found that she can handle a difficult situation. And trust me, singing in the dark where it sounds like you’re singing in a cave because the sound system sounds so awful, was a pretty difficult situation for my 12-year-old. And, Bug? He had a great time with the farm animals, the bouncy house, and eating his sisters’ cupcakes and Chic-fil-A cookies! And of course, we’re gonna get one of Dora’s inflatable ducks for our pool so Bug can use it. I mean, there has to be some advantage to being a 4-year-old in the family, right? So, I didn’t have to bring my cake home, a win-win situation if there was ever one!

So were my girls ready to fail? I ask myself the question again. I don’t know because I honestly don’t feel that a single one experienced failure. I also came to the realization once again. I say “once again” because I often forget this and it always feels like this great epiphany when it happens. That it wasn’t just the girls’ learning. I was learning too or re-learning or perhaps just being reassured that mistakes are wonderful learning opportunities. And that I am incredibly grateful that I get to be part of my girls’ learning opportunities. 

I hope your life is as crazily wonderful as ours!  If you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, please subscribe to our blog (www.oldermomsblog.com) or podcast (https://apple.co/34m7mUi).  For links and resources please visit our website.  Till next time… Toodles….

Links:
Buckeye Cake: https://bit.ly/2oXn88Z 
Doc McStuffins Toy Hospital Care Cart: https://amzn.to/36BKp14  
Inflatable Duck: https://amzn.to/2oODmB6 
Water Flask: https://amzn.to/32kDoyc
Scrunchies: https://amzn.to/2PRGhEe
Headbands: https://amzn.to/2NHaJyc
Young Lives: https://bit.ly/2oU6vem

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