“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.” Luke 18:15
It was Saturday morning at the barbershop. Packed out. A family of four walked in. Mom and dad took the seats beside me. The two boys, I’m guessing around 4 and 6 years old, took a seat on the floor beside the table covered with the day’s newspaper, your typical array of barbershop magazines and a few children’s books. The youngest boy found Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and a big smile crossed his face. He hurriedly turned to the first page. Then it began. The brother-brother dance. Two kids wanting the same book. Parents, we’ve all been there. How would these parents negotiate the tug of war?
“Give the book to your brother. You don’t know how to read.” Mom instructed the little guy.
“Yes, I do. I’m reading it with my mind!” the young reader replied.
I thought, “How cute is that?”
Mom didn’t think it was so cute. “No, you’re not,” she said. “You’re just looking at the pictures.”
“Mom,” he protested, “I’m reading it with my mind.”
While this “back and forth” went on, the little boy’s frustration as well as mine, grew. Not being able to keep my nose out of other people’s business, I stepped in.
Leaning forward, I offered this suggestion, “Hey guys, how about if I read the book to both of you? I’ll scoot over and one of you can sit by me and the other can sit on your mom’s lap.”
“Yeah!.” the youngest one shouted and plopped himself beside me in my chair while his older brother climbed onto his mom’s lap. The older brother lost interest but the youngest was into it. I read a line, “I am Sam.” Before I could read the next line, the little fella said, “I am Sam, Sam I am.” This pattern continued. I’d read one line, and he’d repeat the next. “Would you like them in a house?” He’d follow with, “Would you like them with a mouse?”
How about that? He really was reading with his mind!
It was my turn for a haircut. We closed the book and I got settled in the barber chair. Several times, the little fella would make eye contact with me and wave. I’d work my hand out from under the cape and wave back. Haircut done, barber paid. As I went to get my coat, I was waved over by that innocent little hand. Green Eggs and Ham was opened to the last page we had read. “Will you finish the book?” he asked. “You bet,” I answered. “I can’t wait to see how it ends.”
“You’re a good thinker and reader,” I said as we closed the book. I gave the kid a brief hug around the shoulder, walked out of the barber shop into the cold air, warm tears welling up in my eyes.
We know the power of touch. It feels good to us. It is good for us. A touch in Jesus’ time was much more. It was the conferring of a blessing – a statement of acceptance and affirmation.
That’s it. Kids want and need acceptance and affirmation. It is food for the soul and is as necessary as vegetables for the body. My new barbershop friend just needed a “touch.”
How many “touches” am I giving each day?
How many opportunities are there that I have missed?
How many people have I ignored? In my own family? In my community?
Best haircut I’ve had in a long time.