Judging the Kids

(90 sec read)

My daughter and her 2 friends each made a glass of lemonade, all different: one pink, one with ice and mint, one with a giant lemon wheel and some lost seeds at the bottom. (I couldn’t tell if the seeds were there on purpose.)

They came into the room, proud smiles, with these 3 lemonades on a platter and asked us, the adults, to judge them.

Molly and I looked at each other, a silent conversation between us. It was obvious the one with the seeds was not the winner, nor the pink one with no ice. Who makes a lemonade without ice!? Especially on a hot day.

But we didn’t speak. We tried to figure out who made which one so we’d know who we were hurting and who we were propping up. Did the one we were propping up need propping or did the ones whose feelings we’d be hurting need the propping more? Was it better to slam our own daughter or our daughter’s friends? These thoughts raced through my head like a parade of elephants. I could see the same stampede shadow-flicker in my wife’s eyes.

The girls stood there giggling and holding out their lemonades.

Then I realized what was happening… They were imitating a TV show, one of those contest cooking shows with the asshole head chef who demands that someone has to go home.

So I threw on a fake French accent and judged the crap out of them. Then I tasted each lemonade and judged them some more. (I was right; the mint one was the best.)

They laughed and went back into the kitchen. The next batch was better than the first.

Iterative Development… Tenacity… Fail Fast and Fail Early… If At First You Don’t Succeed… When Life Deals You Lemons…

All that shit, born out of a Fake French accent and a pile of criticism.

More than that, from their boisterous post-contest conversations in the kitchen, it was clear that they, the initial tasters of their own lemonade, had already known how good and bad they were.

Had we dropped only sweetness upon them, they would have seen right through our sugar-coated critique.


In this particular lemonade tasting contest, it seems the children weren’t the only ones being judged.