Thursday, January 19, 2006

drumming up business

After my Freeport Drama Kids class today, I went to the after-care group to do a demo presentation.

Only six children enrolled for this session in Freeport, which technically means we don't have critical mass to run the class. They're all returning students and they'd be heartbroken were the entire term canceled, as would I, so Melissa and I decided we'd try to create some interest among the kids in after-care. They're already hanging out after school -- why not do drama for an hour?

When I was young, there were afterschool programs for families whose parents could not come pick them up at 2:30. It was called "enrichment." I assumed this would be similar.

I was wrong.

There didn't really seem to be any "enrichment" involved. Rather, after-care is what we used to call "babysitting" but in a group. I think they have very vaguely structured activities, but whenever I go drop off my one after-care kid in the room after class, the other young 'uns are doing arts and crafts, playing tag, hurling toys at each other, or (in better weather) running like headless chickens out on the playground. Usually the volume level registers somewhere around "Aerosmith concert" and I can't get out of there fast enough.

I sure hope this program is included in public schooling at no extra cost, because I could see no discernible difference between leaving your kid in after-care and leaving him with grandma, which would probably result in more personalized attention and growth opportunity.

As we were lining up to leave, I asked my five remaining Drama Kids (one had been forced by his mother to leave early, because she had to take the dog to the vet, which was amusing inasmuch as that very scenario was the topic of our scene starter this afternoon) if any would like to stay to help me show the after-care group how much fun we have. I assumed that, even if one or two did want to stay, the parents who had come to claim them would inevitably have things to do, people to see, yadda yadda yadda, and I'd be on my own.

Much to my surprise and amazement, all five asked to stay, and all the parents agreed. (Don't these people have better things to do than sit around the lobby of an elementary school? Have they already hit the point in life where they just don't want to go home? I'm scared.) So my kids accompanied me in to the after-care room.

The After-Care Ladies (are they teachers? nurses? sitters? eh) had kindly moved the chairs and tables for me so I could put down tape lines for our stage. My kids were phenomenal; they told what the tambour did (stops and starts all words and action), did great ad-libbing, presented their scene starter snippets from earlier, and got some of the after-care kids up on the stage to do movement improv as well. By the end, I had at least three or four new kids begging to sign up -- including the daughter of one of the women who supervises after-care. (Heh.)

The After-Care Ladies, however, were drooling over my tambour. "We need one of those," noted one of them, eyeing mine jealously.

Honestly? I've never seen my kids actually obey the tambour so faithfully. Rarely do they display such excellent behavior and enthusiasm about the program. It's not even just having an audience, either, since we've had their parents in for mini-shows and that's just as much of a bust.

But give them a sales pitch, and they'll put Guerilla Marketing right out of business. I should take them on the road every week. They're fantastic.

Want to grow your business? You don't need an MBA. You just need a six-year-old.


Elizabeth said...

Not to quibble, but the only thing I would have gotten out of quality afternoon time with my grandmother would have been post-traumatic stress and a taste for Gordon's vodka.

Leigh said...

What about the other grandma? Sure, she was 2000 miles away, but the thought still counts.

Elizabeth said...

Quality after-school time with Gran would have consisted of the following:

1. Reading 30-year-old math textbooks
2. Learning how to ruthlessly suppress any and all emotional sensitivity
3. Burying buckets of Canadian currency in the backyard

I'll let you draw your own conclusions about the opportunities for growth therein. Me? I'll take the toy-hurling.

Leigh said...

I don't know. I kind of think it gets originality points.