Lauren was not only my best friend growing up, but also my entrepreneurial counterpart. We had dreams—big ones—and we weren’t going to let the constraints of age, practical know-how, or nonplussed parents prevent us from making them a reality.
At the tender age of ten, Lauren and I were co-owners of a restaurant called Harry & Sarge’s, which operated out of my parents’ kitchen. We were also the discriminating customers who visited Harry & Sarge’s, and the talented-yet-misunderstood chefs (named—you guessed it—Harry and Sarge). Invariably, we left the kitchen a ravaged, smoky mess. Fortunately for my parents, we were also co-presidents of our own very exclusive club, to which we were obligated to pay weekly dues. (Not my most brilliant personal-finance decision.) We, of course, had no income, so we made a list of odd jobs we could perform for any willing customers, along with rates. Harvesting fruit, for example, would cost a customer one penny per piece of fruit. We’d make out like bandits, according to our calculations.
My parents, for whom the adventures of Lauren and Renae were amusing but no doubt tiresome, saw our enterprising spirit and poor math skills as the perfect storm to get work done around the house. “I’ll give you five dollars if you remove all the ice plant from the front yard!” said my mom with an encouraging grin. “What a deal!” we’d say, only to find ourselves duking it out with that vicious plant eight hours later, dehydrated and sore. “Four dollars to clean out the chicken coop!” she’d say. And again, we’d take the job—happy we’d be able to pay our club dues that week. It wasn’t until a few years later that we began see the foolishness of our self-imposed slavery: my parents were ripping us off.
Looking back, I can’t help but applaud their swift maneuvers. They had found a way to channel our maniacal creative energy into lessons about the value of hard work while reaping the benefits of exhausted children and a well-kept yard. I suppose it serves us right for constantly destroying the house on our whims. In the end, our blood, sweat, and tears paid off: we bought a brand-new pink carpet for the clubhouse—totally worth it.
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