Until recently, here at the beach little kids seemed like visitors from another planet, but that has changed. I began to realize how completely happy those tots could be—when the weather is warm they develop a peculiarity--at, or anywhere near the sand and water, they suddenly grow springs in their legs, leaping, dancing and running faster than any battery-powered bunnies could do. They laugh, scream, squeal and splash; they gaze with wide-eyed joy and wonder at seeing things for the very first time. They somehow make the familiar beach scene much more fun. I do not consider myself to be the playful type, but perhaps rather like Paul in 1st Corinthians, (9:22, 23), I tried to join in and become all things to all men—or in this case, to all little kids. Now that the weather is cooler they come bundled up and are usually pushed in strollers; since I miss the squeals and the laughs, I make faces at them.
As they wheel past my seat on the low wall, putting them momentarily almost eye-level with me, my “Crazy Willie” face usually gets their attention. I smile broadly right away and get back a smile, a laugh, or at least a look of round-eyed wonder. Encouraged by this I find that noises help and my little tea- pot routine with “Tip me over, pour me out” is sure fire. Anything for a laugh, I say. Voices work too; not only do I get a “frog” in my throat, I occasionally get a “dog” in it as I bark at them. Some times it is a “horse”, I have a “bird” in my throat when I “swallow”, and the “swoop and soar” may leave me “sore”. The kids often lean out of their buggies, looking back at me--and we wave. If all else fails I can go into my “man being hanged” routine as a last resort.
I have noticed, however, that during the recent week more and more “stroller pushers” are going by me from across the street. I get a rare wave or a smile but that’s about all. Perhaps it has become clear that I am no virtuoso—or my audience has become jaded with the same old material. Public fame being what it is, fickle and short-lived, I will just have to find another gig—or maybe add tap-dancing to my repertoire.