The little puppetteer

Yesterday at faire we had an amazing attendance. The georgous weather was certanly a factor, but the quality of audience seemed way up as well. It seemed to me like EVERYONE was willing to play, and despite me being very tired, I played.
One of my favorite interactions was a bit non-traditional, but it ended up working wonderfully. I was rowing along when this family made a comment about my boat, I of course stopped to engage them.
As I was commenting about the quality of imaginary ship craftsmenship their daughter, probably around 11 going on 37, stated in a matter of fact manner, “that is NOT a real parrot”. Normally I would quip back “of course it is” and poke Anoki to show that he isn’t imaginary. This time I tried something new, a little out of my comfort zone but hey why not. I said, “youre right, hes a puppet, would you like to try?” she seemed a bit taken back by this offer but then with a littel parental encouragement agreed. I handed over the control to the girl and gave her a short instruction on how to work Anoki. Within a few seconds she had basic movement down. At that I decided to step it up a bit and see what might happen. I began to talk to Anoki and he responded, slowly at first, but there was definite reaction. The little girl had a very determined look upon her face and we continued, I started guiding her through some movements by telling Anoki not to do said movement, which he immediatly did. He brushed my hat, he reached for my ear, he observed people standing next to us, he even grabbed my hat brim and we fought over the hat, “hey I told you it’s my hat, it’s to big for you knock it off! Listen here bird, let go or it’s a timeout for you, I mean it!” During this tussle I noticed the little girl, anoki and i had actually pulled in a crowd of about 10 to 12 people all laughing at the antics of the pirate and his parrot. The best part was the fact that the little girl was no longer stoic and sober looking, she was laughing along and having a blast. We continued a bit longer until I was running out of ideas. I stated that it was time to go get some parrot food. The girls parents picked up on this and suggested to their daughter that she give the “nice pirate”, “who you callin’ nice”, his parrot back. She did with a smile, and a pleasant, unprompted, “Thank You”. I then opened the chest and handed her a message in a bottle. Appropriatly, it was one mentioning buying parrot food.
I love my weekend world.