One of my roles as a Preschool Director is to give tours to prospective parents and their children. I love giving tours because it gives me the opportunity to show off a school I’m super proud of. When I give a tour to a parent while school is in session, I never know what might happen, so I pride myself in keeping a straight face and a calm disposition no matter what is going on around me. “Keep Calm and Preschool Director On” is my motto.
My motto got tested this summer. I was presented with the opportunity to tour another preschool, and I jumped at the chance. When I arrived, the Director who invited me was apologetic because she had agreed to give a tour to a mother who had called that morning, frantically asking for a tour. The mother had arrived an hour early, so this meant I would have to share my tour, or delay it. I decided to share for several reasons, not the least of which was because I thought it would probably allow me to be more free to observe if my friend was busy giving a parent a tour. I was there to learn, so maybe my friend had some tour guide tips to share.
I didn’t even have to draw from my Preschool Director instincts to figure out that the young boy who was taking the tour with us was not in a good mood. He wiped out the toy shelves like a contestant on one of those grocery store shopping spree game shows. While my friend tried to save at least a small portion of her school’s toys and games and puzzles, I tried to distract the young boy with a question. “What’s your name, buddy?” I asked, in a calm and soothing tone that would make a hypnotist jealous. He paused in mid board game destruction, looked at me, gave me a brief moment of hope that I had saved the day, and then…he growled at me. And when I say he growled, I don’t mean some harmless little “Grrrr”. That would have been cute. I’m talking a full out, bear emerging from its hibernation cave GRRRROWWWWWL.
Suddenly, just in time, his mom spoke up and explained that he was just cranky. “May I please give him a snack?” she asked.
“Of course,” my Director friend said. I could hear the relief in her voice.
I smiled a calm smile and waited for Mom to pull a baggy of goldfish out for her little wrecking ball to snack on.
Mom opened up her shirt and let this three year old boy stand on his tip toes and….have his snack!
Let me make clear. I’m a supporter of breast feeding, and I think it is a wonderful and beautiful and natural thing…but I didn’t know where to look!! Off to my left was a young student with a sticker on his shirt that said, “Hi, My Name Is Ralphie.” Ralphie didn’t know where to look either! And he also didn’t know what to do!. So he did what anyone else would do when finding themselves in an awkward situation. He broke into song.
His response to suddenly becoming part of this increasingly adventuresome tour was to sing a very shaky ABC song. I too, feeling uncomfortable and not knowing what to do, made the solo a duet. When the boy who was…snacking…decided to make our duet a trio…while still snacking…I turned to the the snacking toddler to show him my approval of his wonderful singing talent, as any good Preschool Director would do…and that’s when it happened. The little snacker locked eyes with me…while snacking.
After several seconds too many, I broke away from his hypnotic stare and looked towards my Director friend who was frozen in the middle of the tour which was a tour no more, and didn’t seem to know what to do. I then looked to Ralphie, who, upon realizing he had no other song prepared, decided to make a break for it, and run to his teacher who took one look at all of us and did what any teacher in her right mind would and should do. She scooped up her student and retreated to her classroom. The door was on one of those powerful air hinges and she still somehow managed to slam it behind her.
And just like that, the mom put the snacks away, told my friend she would add the school to her son’s list of potentials, and then she, and her snacker, were gone.
I left that school that day having learned three valuable lessons:
- Snacks come in all shapes and sizes;
- When in doubt, sing. Better yet, sing with a friend;
- You never know what could happen when you take a tour of a Preschool.
By the way, we’re offering tours of Center Stage Preschool right now. But you’ll have to bring your own snacks 🙂