I pushed through the door at a local hair salon. Toys were strewn over the entire waiting area: red balls, oversized Legos, action figures, you name it. Presiding timidly over the mess was a five-year old digging through the salon candy bowl trying in vain to find something besides peppermints or Smarties. He was patiently waiting for his younger brother’s haircut to finish.
“Did you have an appointment, or did you swing by hoping to get lucky?” the hairdresser asked me. “Oh, uh…” I stammered, not realizing I needed an appointment.
“I guess I hope there’s an opening.”
“Ok! Well, let me get this one, then his mother, and then you’ll be next.”
The hairdresser finished the cut and I was subtly asked to keep an eye of these kids I didn’t know while their mother took her turn in the swivel chair.
Suddenly, the tiny waiting area became a canyon, and the two kids tucked themselves deeply between chairs far from me.
“What’s your name?”
“Do you like any sports?”
The younger son drooled on his Smarties, and the older child looked away.
I sighed and sat in silence. I could simply tend to emails on my phone or maybe watch the TV, I thought.
But then I leaned out of my chair, knelt beside the Lego table, and started building, and within seconds, both boys were no longer wedged between chairs. The older one was dying to grab a block. I smiled, “Go ahead. Maybe we can make a really tall tower.”
It took Chase, the older child, and just a few minutes to build a tower that literally reached the ceiling before it came crashing down; I even had to lunge forward to protect his little brother from taking a (harmless) crash from the falling plastic blocks. And the whole room laughed aloud. “That was cool!” exclaimed Chase.
By the time it was my turn for the haircut, Chase didn’t want to leave, and I hadn’t realized almost 30 minutes had passed.
That afternoon was a real gift. It too often seems easier to avoid awkward conversations or to entirely steer clear of making oneself vulnerable. We don’t just do it with strangers, but even our own families. Yet stepping down from one’s place above and onto another person’s level is itself the most profound invitation. After all, the Son of God did that for us. Let’s follow His lead.