This post has no picture and that troubles me greatly, as you can imagine. I tried desperately to take a photo, but I just wasn't fast enough. It needs a photo, it really does, but I'll do my best to paint the picture in your mind's eye. It was a crazy day.
I spent seven awesome years directing a preschool. There is much to be said about that, but today's post is just about deer or being on the lookout for them. "Huh?" you say. "Why would we need to beware of deer? They are pretty harmless, after all."
Last year at the end of one of our school days, we were preparing for afternoon dismissal. It was a very regular day. It was not too cold and not too hot, the children were all gathered on the floor at our dismissal area and all was just the same as it always was. Everything was 'normal' (if that can ever be said of a group of seventy five tiny people awaiting their trip home).
The teachers were all stationed in their spots, the cars began filing in and the names of the children were beginning to be called. It was our usual afternoon ritual. Usual, that is, until I heard someone say, "Oh, Dear!"
'Oh Dear' is quite an average saying, not usually eliciting too much angst or response from the assembled adults. The two word phrase didn't even register, really, until I saw a brown image in my periphery. What? What, was that?
I peered outside as the brown flashed by me and begin to notice the excitement, the fear, the confusion of all of the adults on the outside of the door. Whatever was happening, I knew that I'd want a photo - I reached quickly into my pocket to retrieve my cell phone, as I leaped out the door. In the two seconds it took me to exit the building, our normal day had leapt to the abnormal - folks were laughing and screaming and pointing and gasping.
A deer, a real deer, a really big deer had torn through the average day, into the space of our city center preschool. A deer who belonged in the woods with its friends, who should have been chewing on grasses in the woods, was running past us all.
The deer ran right through the middle of parents and teachers and little bitty students, scaled the more than four foot fence and shot a large does of adrenaline right in the middle of a 'regular ole' day! Scared to death, it took no more than a couple of seconds for the poor chap to scale the fence on the other side of the playground and then go running up another city street.
There were no photos taken; there were only mouths open. The adults were aghast and the children giggled - they giggled more over the crazy actions of their adults than the quick run-through of the strange animal. There was a lot of noise, a lot of movement, a lot of excitement! It was just plain weird.
We don't know why the deer did what it did. We don't know what was wrong with it or where it went when it left us. The deer didn't need long on the playground of an active preschool to know that that wasn't where it wanted to be.
There is no talk like the excited talk of a group of ten or more women, and the talk that ensued was large and loud and busy and buzzing. Were we scared? Excited? What? We couldn't name it. We didn't know the emotion, couldn't label it. What we had just seen wasn't to be named, but the crazy deciphering of it all began in earnest.
What were we to do with the deer run-through? How could we explain it? Where did we go from here? A few folks began to consider the need for efforts to keep deer off the playground - a student could have been trampled, something terrible could have happened.
It could have - something terrible could have happened. It could have been a disaster. But it wasn't. Thankfully, I quickly shook off the temptation to think the worst, to listen to the fear, to make a plan. Not many seconds had passed, but I was well aware that I would be no part of implementing the "Deer Storms the Playground" safety workshop.
We could have painted the whole scene with fear. We could have erased the excitement and added it to the ever-growing list of things to fear. We didn't. We didn't go that route.
We stayed in the excitement. As best we could, we began to explain to the kids what had happened. We didn't know what was wrong with the deer, we told them. We didn't know if it was lost or scared or sick or all of those. What we knew was that a large brown deer had streaked across our day and that is was more than probable that we wouldn't live to see the same scene again. It was an interesting story. It really was.
I think about the deer often. I consider how sometimes our plain ole' days can get turned upside down with something completely irrational that blows away the normal. I consider that we could have given in to the temptation of some to paint it with fear, to put in the new deer regulations and begin to take turns on deer patrol. We could have done that, but we didn't.
We left it as what it was - a highly irregular event. A moment that busted us out of complacency and threw us into a world of excitement and wonder and a moment we wouldn't forget. I cannot help wishing I had gotten a photo of the deer or wishing that it had played on the playground for a few moments so the children would have more of a story for their adult years. That's not how it went, though.
It was an exciting moment and then we were back to the usual. We did not elect to implement any new rules or regulations. We just enjoyed it. We screamed and then we laughed and then we went back to living our day.
But as we settled back into normalcy, I could not help but enjoy the excitement and wonder of that moment. I'm glad the deer busted through and I hope it is just fine now, surrounded by deer friends and eating grass and wiggling its little white tail happily back and forth.