Become a school playground supervisor for a day.
Or if you prefer something more theatrical, sign up to be a referee at a future Wrestlemania event.
The experience is almost the same.
Amidst all of the chatter and hub-bub, you think you know what’s going on, but in reality, all of the significant action is occurring behind your back.
How did I find this out?
Yesterday my superintendent assigned several central office administrators to serve as substitute building principals while the “real deals” were at an all-day workshop.
I started my day at 7:40 am standing in the middle of a playground at one of our K-7 schools.
I took in a deep breath of crisp December air and watched about a hundred 2nd and 3rd graders at play before the start of school at 8:15 am.
Observing the youngsters innocently frolicking about with their friends — kicking soccer balls and climbing and swinging from a variety of colorful structures — made me envious of their principal.
For about two minutes.
“Who are you?” said a voice, which came from behind me.
“I’m Mr. Page,” I smiled. “Thanks for welcoming me to your playground.”
“I didn’t,” the boy said.
“Oh yeah, you’re right,” I agreed, smiling less. “I was sent here.”
Apparently, the boy didn’t care to hear about the intricacies of central office staff assignments, because he changed the subject.
“I see that!” I said. “It looks great on you. Do you know what it says?”
“It says ‘Instigate,'” he said.
“Do you know what that means?” I asked.
“You want to find out?” he said.
“No. Tomorrow’s a better day for that.”
Luckily, the blare of nearby shouting alerted me to a pending crisis .
One of the soccer balls had been kicked over the chain link school fence into the adjoining condo complex, and was now resting on a neighbor’s yard.
A boy ran up to me and gasped, “Do something!”
Dang it. Like a befuddled wrestling referee, I was clueless about what to do.
Even my “instigate” buddy had skadaddled.
So I turned to a friendly-looking group of 3rd grade girls and asked them for their advice.
They were eager to help and gave me several possibilities to consider, but by the time I turned around, the ball was already back in the playground.
Someone had either gone over or under the fence. I had no idea.
But this was a mystery best left unsolved.
This wasn’t Alcatraz for crying out loud.
Besides, I had a bigger issue to work out.
It was nearing 8:15 and I wasn’t sure how to corral the kids into school for the start of their day.
I returned to my advisory group of 3rd grade girls for counsel.
“Is there a bell that rings to get everyone into their lines?” I inquired.
“No,” said one of the girls.”You have to blow a whistle. Did they give you a whistle?”
“No,” I said. “What do you think I should do?”
There was immediate consensus that I should start “yelling.”
That did the trick.
And so, my day of “substitute principaling” continued until 3:30 pm… at which time I returned to my office with renewed perspective and appreciation.
Everyone at the school was wonderful, but I was still bothered a bit by not being entrusted with a whistle.
Even a dimwitted professional wrestling referee gets a whistle.