The kids drew me into their game without asking for my consent. One moment I was safely at arm’s distance, monitoring their play while their parents attended a Bible study—and the next I was fully engaged, slipping easily into their imaginary world. The yard became a town. The wagon became the bus, and I became the bus driver.
Soon almost every kid in the yard had places to go and people to see. These kids led busy lives. They needed to go to the doctor’s office and “Little House.” They had to stop by the bank and use the ATM to get money. A visit to the hospital was followed by a movie at the theater. I was carefully paid with greenbacks (leaves) for every trip I made, but we stayed on the road so much I actually found myself wondering if the bus might end up with a little car trouble.
“The bus driver is taking a little break,” I finally told one of my passengers. “Give me a minute. Or call a taxi.” But soon enough we were back at it. Up and down, ‘round and ‘round the yard, I took my passengers from the doctor’s office to Little House to the bank to the theater.
It was not all play. For starters, although I recognized that my customers were already quite savvy about making the rounds of life, I taught them a thing or two—beginning with how to hail a cab. I’m convinced this is need-to-know info and will someday be put to good use.
Meanwhile, the highlight of my evening came when, as I was driving my empty bus along the road (sidewalk), I heard a cry emitting from somewhere below my waist. I looked down in time to see little eyes grow wide in a small frightened face while little arms clutched my knees. “Save me,” the littlest citizen of Little House town begged. “Save me.”
He clung tight. I listened hard. Yep, there most definitely were scary sounds coming from the bushes. So I did what every Good Samaritan should be ready to do. I consoled; I acted. “I’ll save you,” I assured him, patting his little back. “Don’t worry. It’s going to be okay. Would you like to ride my bus? You’ll be safe there.”
Gee, I love being a hero, even in an imaginary world of roadside monsters. It reminds me of how it makes me feel when someone in real trouble needs my help, and I’m actually there to give it—and actually do. I renewed my commitment on the spot to “saving” people as one of the things I want to do with my life in worlds imaginary and real.
Child’s play taught me something, too. First, it’s downright fun to disappear into your imagination, at least every now and then. How could I have forgotten? Second, I put myself in a great place to rescue someone, not only when I assuming a lifeguard position, but when I position myself as a servant. When you’re serving, you’re close to the action.
I figure if I want to help people and make a real difference in the real world, serving others will give me opportunities there, too. Most of the time it’s probably going to feel like I’m mindlessly driving in circles. But on those rare occasions when someone puts their arms around me and pleads with me to help them, I’ll know it’s my destiny.