Karen has a new hobby. She sells things. While she’s been kicking around the idea of selling lemonade since last summer, she began in earnest when she heard that a friend of hers had laid out some old toys in the garden of her building, and sold some of them. Since then, she spends most of her free time making up signs, price tags, and sifting through old clothes, books and games to see what she can sell. Today was a Hamseen, a hot desert wind that dries the air and sucks the breath out of you if you spend too much time outdoors. So she set up to sell homemade Slurpees. Crushed ice with some fruit flavored syrup dribbled on top. Considering the heat, they were almost melted by the time she got down to her perch and began setting up, but she still managed to sell one of the four she brought with her.

We’re letting her do it because she feels such a strong compulsion to get out there and sell stuff. She’s also made up signs offering to wash people’s cars. We give her allowance, and buy her everything she needs and most of what she wants, but she still wants to earn money. I’m wondering if it’s normal for a child her age, 8, to be so focused on making money. I think it’s just a symptom of her ever-present deep desire to be independent, and not to have to ask us for anything.

On the one hand, if she enjoys it, the whole planning and execution, not just the money, then I want to encourage her to do it since she is learning so much in the process. She gives change, sets prices, and chooses locations where she thinks she will find people willing to buy. Today she went out and bought a box of Popsicles (ice on a stick, “artik”), put them in a small icebox and carried it to the playground. She sold 4 in about 20 minutes, making up her investment. At which point, she headed home. She’d been at it for about two hours, in horrible heat.

She’s not in any danger, since we can see her from our apartment most of the time, and she’s really into it. Do we let her continue until she gets bored with it, or will that only encourage her further? At first, DH and I were a little embarrassed that people we know would see her selling stuff on the sidewalk like a tramp, but she is so focused, we feel it would be unfair to deny her. She’s done some selling with other girls, but lately, seems perfectly happy to go it alone if no one is interested.

Parents reading this, what would you do? Allow it? Encourage it? Say “No”?