If you aren't sure who the Pied Piper was, I'll tell you. He was a guy, as the fairy tale goes, that played a musical pipe, and led all the rats out of a small German town. The townspeople wouldn't pay his fee, so he then played his pipe and led all the children out of town. He wouldn't return the kids until they paid him a lot, lot more. Thus the phrase, "time to pay the piper".
Thursday night I worked at the Pryor Christmas Parade. As in the past, I was assigned the task of lining up the parade entries in lots H, I and K. It's not hard and actually kinda fun. You just got to make sure that everyone gets out in the right order. Not a problem.
One of the entries was Clifford the Big Red Dog. I think I've seen this character on TV once in the past, and I'm sure he must be in books as this entry was for Pryor's Book Exchange. While I may not know much about him, the little kids just seemed to love him. They were looking at him with awe, pointing at him, following him, and parents were taking pictures of him with their kids.
Clifford is one popular guy. Like the Pied Piper, these kiddies were drawn to him.
As we were waiting for the parade to start, Clifford got a little bored (the kids were not attached to him at the moment) and wanted to talk to someone. Someone older than 2 I'm sure. Can't blame him really, and since he was an entry all by himself he apparently decided to go talk to the people standing out in the middle of the street. These people out in the street were in charge of the whole parade, and I'm sure he knew them.
I'm standing on the street corner, close the to Pryor High School Band and the Thunderbird Youth Academy cadets. We were all waiting for the parade to start, when all of a sudden this little boy zooms past me. This little boy, who was no more than two (maybe younger, I have no idea), is waddling at full speed, hand pointing and heading in the direction of Clifford. Apparently he was fan of Clifford too.
Chasing after him, I caught him in front of the band before he got out into the middle of the intersection. Taking his hand, I asked him who he belongs to. He stops and looks at me as if to say "Who are you?", then looks around, again as if to ask "Where am I?" and "Where is Clifford?".
He never said a word. If his parents taught him never to talk to strangers, he passed THAT test.
I started leading him back to where I thought he came from. Back to some entries that had lots of people involved. This was probably my best chance, but then a woman started walking toward me with another child a few years older. "This must be the mom." I thought. She walked right past me, smiled but never said anything. Must not have been his mother, or at least I hope it wasn't. Otherwise, I'm in trouble.
Looking down, I asked the little guy "Do you know where you belong?". He just looked up. I sighed. It's not that I am allergic to small children, its just that I am a bit uncomfortable around them. My youngest is now 21, so it's been a long time since I've had to deal with little ones. The only small children in my family are my two nephews, who live way out in California. I see them every now and then, but that's a story for another day. Maybe when I have grandkids (waaaaaaaaaay in the future, I hope), I will get over this feeling.
Holding the child's hand, I stooped over and walked with him toward the other parade entries. He didn't seem all that eager to head in the direction I was walking, but he followed. As I got close to one of the entries, I heard someone exclaim, "There you are!".
A lady comes toward me, looking a bit harried and a little relieved, saying things about turning her back for a moment. Been there, done that... kids can zoom off in a fraction of a second. The lady looks at me, thanks me, and says, obviously referring to the child, "He's just like his grandpa!".
I smiled, and silently wondered if Grandpa often follows big red dogs, gets lost, and has to be led back to where he belongs. If so, poor Grandpa.
I'm just happy that I found where the little one belonged. Not sure what I would have done if I had to baby sit for the whole parade.....just glad it didn't happen.