As far back as I can remember, I loved going to the playground. My mom and dad used to push me on the swings in Prospect Park. I used to climb like a monkey on the monkey bars. And my favorite part was going down the big slide and screaming my head off. But that was 1975—long before I would ever have kids of my own.
Not much has changed in the playground. Kids are running around, climbing, falling, bleeding, building sandcastles—but not my kids. They enjoy it for other reasons: to sell things to the kids who are actually playing, like lemonade and water balloons. Some days they sell anything from a dirty action figure to a rock. They do pretty well I must say. After expenses, supplies for paper signs, and a cut for the help, they bring home between $6 to $15 dollars per day.
One day, when they had nothing to sell, my daughter decided to tear her room apart to find random things to sell. Random indeed. When we arrived at the park, she displayed her stuff on a green bench: a few books, stuffed animals, Lego pieces, a blue flip-flop, and some scraggly looking dolls. Then she stood on the bench and let everyone know that Rowan was here. And that she meant business.
“STUFF FOR SALE! GET YOUR STUFF FOR SALE!” she blurted out.
As my son wandered around the park handing out fliers about the sale, she screamed louder and louder. Nobody responded. I felt horrible. So she did again louder: “STUFF FOR SALE! GET YOUR STUFF FOR SALE!” Nothing. Again. “FOR SALE! GET YOUR STUFF FOR SALE!” Now, I felt horrible for her, and embarrassed.
As she screamed her heart out, these two suspicious guys in red and blue tracksuits walking alongside the playground heard Rowan, and approached the iron fence to see what was going on. I didn’t know what they were saying to my daughter, so I darted over to let them know that I was her dad.
“Hello,” I said to Tony Soprano’s soldiers, but quickly learned they didn’t care what I had to say. Red tracksuit guy was talking to Rowan reviewing the mangled merchandise, as blue tracksuit guy with the greasy hair and big blue yes gazed over the sickly slinky, and dolls with no legs.
“Hey, how much dat one,” he said.
“Three dollars,” she replied.
“That’s a lot for a dog. Don’t you think?”
“Three dollars,” she said. She wasn’t coming down.
So he dug deep into his wallet and said, “Three dollars it is.”
As she handed him the puppy, he said, “Hey, this pup gotta name?”
“Well, Lucky it is.”
“Thanks guy,” I said.
Before they left, red tracksuit guy said, “Hey take care of that kid. She’s special. She has chutzpah. Heh, you don’t ride on the swings. You sell the kids on the swings the things they need or don’t. I love it!”
“Exactly dada. See that’s what I try and tell you,” she said.
As they walked away, Rowan stood back on the bench. “STUFF FOR SALE! GET YOUR STUFF FOR SALE! And after she sold a Lego spaceship, I said, “Shops closed. Being a kid is open. It’s time to climb the monkey bars.”