There are two boys on my front porch asking if Gabie can play. They live at the other end of our neighborhood and are Gabie’s same age, but they aren’t kids he usually plays with. It has been a very hot day and we’ve spent it mostly inside, and Gabie is clearly restless and delighted that Joseph and Jason have come over. “I’ll meet you on the other side of the garage,” he tells them, “I have to grab my shoes.” I can hear him jabbering to them from the garage about his new bike (“which isn’t really new, but it’s new to me since I just got it from my brother McKay who got a new one for his birthday, and mine's the blue one and look how big the tires are. . .”).
Shoes on, Gabie opens the door into the kitchen to tell me they’re all going to ride their bikes over to Jason’s house because Jason is going to give him a popsicle. “Be home in one hour,” I tell him, “and call me if you’re going anywhere else.”
Less than fifteen minutes later, Gabie is back. He has a wounded look on his face. “What’s wrong?” I ask him.
“They wanted me to pay for the popsicle. And I didn’t have a dollar and 25 cents so they told me I couldn’t play and had to go home.”
Naturally, my first impulse is to run down to Jason’s house and give those boys (and their mothers) a piece of my mind. Those little punks. Instead, I see that Gabie still just needs somebody to talk to. I ask him, “How do you feel?”
“Exhausted.” he says. “Exhausted and disappointed.”
I get him a drink of water (wish I had popsicles!) and a few minutes later he seems back to his old spunky self. Now he’s babbling on about how he wants to give something away. “What can I give away?” he asks me. “I’m not going to make anybody pay for it. It will be free. This is going to make other people really happy. I’m sweet aren’t I.”
“Yes, you’re sweet” I say. I’m laughing out loud by now and grabbing my pen. He’s used to this and lets me take a moment to document his sweetness on paper. Then we have to figure out what it is he’s going to give away. He suggests cookies but I think it’s too hot and too close to dinner to make cookies. We settle on Kool-Aid which is a rare treat around our house (because I know most kids’ drinks are full of sugar but with Kool-Aid you actually witness the whole cup of sugar going in and I just can’t handle the honesty).
Soon Gabie has mixed a batch of grape Kool-Aid and grabbed a stack of plastic cups and a table and chairs and is parked out on the front sidewalk waiting for “customers” to walk by so he can surprise them with the news that it’s all free today. Unconditional sweetness. No charge. No strings attached.