A woman and her two little girls were going through the self-checkout. While mom was busy, I talked to the girls. How old were they…? Were they doing fun things on their vacation…?
“Your shoelaces are untied,” I said to the younger one. “I’ll tie them for you if it’s okay with your mom.”
She didn’t look up from her groceries as she said, “That would be fine. Would you like him to tie your shoes for you?”
I got down on my knees and carefully tied them.
“Is that okay?” I asked. “They’re not too tight, are they?”
It was okay.
I noticed the slightly older sister had come closer and that her shoes were now also untied.
“Do I need to tie your shoes, too?” I asked.
She nodded shyly. And so I did, asking the same questions to make sure I got it right.
We were all pleased with this moment. They liked that an old guy was taking care of a task they were still trying to learn. I figured the mom was happy to let someone help out–I’m sure she had done this task often enough to where the entertainment value had faded. But I hadn’t tied a little kid’s shoes in a long time, and I enjoyed doing it.
If you think about it, we adults kneel in front of our kids a lot: when we tell them something important, or they need to tell us something important, or when they’ve hurt themselves, or when we play with them, or tuck them in at night.
Kneeling before the children reminded me of the words, “Of such are made the kingdom of heaven.” And “…their angels to behold the face of God.” Sweet phrases that attempt to describe the value of children, as if they are the true royalty of our culture.
If we kneel to honor kings and queens, surely it is also appropriate to kneel before children as we attend to their needs.
“Say thank you to the nice man,” their mother said as they left.
They did. And I thanked them as well.