Ever wondered if you made the right career choice?

Allison Tait blog
Posted on August 31, 2010

If you were to ask me for an activity high on my Not In This Lifetime list, taking 20 three year olds to the local art gallery would be right up there. And yet, today, I found myself doing just that.

After our week off, we returned to the preschool routine yesterday. During the ‘morning tea in the basket-drink bottle on the bench-lunch in the fridge’ frenzy, we were approached by Mr3’s teacher, who was waving a form at us. Uh-oh. There was to be an excursion. A walking excursion. To the Art Gallery. Yippee.

After consultation with Mr3, who thought it sounded very fun, I signed the form. No, I circled, I could not attend. I was working. Smiles all round, kiss goodbye, see you later.

At 11pm last night, Mr3 woke in a panic. He could not possibly go on a ‘scurshon’ without me. He would not sleep unless I agreed to go.

I went.

And so I found myself leading a little band of short people the three blocks to the local art gallery. I was responsible for three – Mr3, Little Miss Red Hat and Little Miss Dora.

LMRH is a confident, outgoing child of four, whose silver Converse sneakers were too cute for words.

LMD is a tiny little girl of three with huge brown eyes and not a lot to say.

Mr3 was so happy to see me that he kissed my hand repeatedly.

We were team red badges (every adult had three kids to watch, we all wore matching badges so we knew which ones were ours – efficient).

During the 30 minutes it took us to walk the three blocks to the gallery, I had time to reflect on why I’d decided (via work experience) that a career in childcare was not for me. They say that when you go bushwalking you put the slowest person at the front of the line and walk to that person’s pace. Nobody gets left behind. We were following in the tiny teeter-totter steps of LMD.

To stave off my overwhelming feelings of impatience (I am really not good at this), I asked Mr3 if he remembered going to the big gallery in Canberra a few months ago.


I asked LMRH whether she thought we’d see paintings at the gallery.


Would we see drawings?


What did she think we’d see?

“Stuff to look at,” she said.

We spent several hours at the gallery. The first 10 minutes was taken up with a flurry of toilet visits. Then the preschool teacher gave a talk about how much work people had put into their artworks and how we could look but not touch.

Moments later, a gallery staff member gave the same talk. We moved inside the gallery.

Three minutes later, another gallery staff member repeated the ‘don’t touch’ rule, adding in ‘don’t run’ and ‘don’t speak, in case you ruin the gallery experience for other visitors’.

All of this said at a volume and in a tone of voice that one reserves for the very old, the very young or the very hard-of-hearing.

All I can say is that they’re small, but they get it. Talk up. Plus, looking around, I couldn’t see too many others trying to experience the gallery. They’d taken one look at the be-badged sea of preschoolers coming their way and hightailed it for the exit.

My little team were unimpressed by much of what they saw. They liked the helicopters in one painting, the horses in another. They didn’t really get the idea of ‘distortion’. But they loved the opportunity to roll around in the sun and stick spangly bits on cardboard frames. The doing, not the viewing.

On the way back, they kept falling over. This is a relatively good sign that a good time has been had by all. When you’re so tired, you’re walking in circles and forgetting where your feet go, you’ve had the three-year-old equivalent of a ‘rage’.

I learned a few valuable lessons myself. One was that there was nothing on my desk that really suffered from having to wait a few hours. One was that Mr3 has progressed from scribbling colours to drawing those funny huge-head-skinny-leg pictures that show that his world view is changing. One was that time goes so much more slowly when you’re cruising along at preschool pace.

But I’m confident I made the right career choice.


  1. Stacia

    Sounds like they’ve got those “scurshons” down to a science, complete with time for floor-rolling and spangly bits. =>

  2. Melissa@Suger Coat It

    Just simply, I loved this post. Just loved trekking along with you all. Love you style.

  3. Melbourne Mumma

    Lovely post! I reluctantly volunteered for an ‘autumn walk’ excursion with my 4yo’s kinder (he was then 3) and it turned out to be so rewarding. We collected so many autumn leaves, and it was wonderful looking at the world through the eyes of a group of 3yo’s again. Simply and slowly!

  4. Yvette Vignando

    Loved this post Allison. Reminds me of the many art gallery trips we’ve made with kids. Even for the munchkin who genuinely loves art, the highlights have generally been the food/cafe break, the shop and the end of the visit.

    It’s lovely now that the art-liker munchkin is 12 – I plan to go to galleries with him until I’m a ripe old age, or until he gets sick of pushing the wheelchair around the gallery.

    I love going on the kids’ school excursions – mainly because I get a better idea of what their friends are like – I wish high schools would invite parents along to excursions so I could carry out this espionage at a higher level.

  5. WA Editor

    This made me laugh, so sweet and innocent yet I would have been one of those people heading for the exit if I saw those kids coming!

  6. Bodaciousboomer

    Taking 3 3-year olds to an art gallery? Have you checked your home for toxic chemicals that might be affecting your judgment?

  7. Maxabella

    OMG, you know me, I’d be beside myself having to walk behind three three year olds. For this reason alone (but oh there are so very many more) I could never work in childcare and I am constantly in awe of and grateful for those that do.

  8. Imperfectly Me

    My trick is to circle “no I cannot help” on the form as it is usually the days I’m working and then “pop in” unexpectedly for 10minutes before I resume my normal activities…gives the kids a buzz and I get out of having to do the whole walking to and from business which can be quite tedious.
    Mind you I have only recently adopted this tactic (as Miss 10 is now in Year 4 and we’ve had our fill of the whole scursion thing!!!)
    Good mummy sticker for you!!!

  9. Lucy

    You are brave. Very. I have avoided “schurshins” thus far. (I have done cooking at kindy. Repeatedly. I am hoping that lets me off the “schurshins”? Please?)

  10. ClaireyH

    Interesting many of us think we don’t have the patience, I am hoping that is because it isn’t “our” class or room to organise. While as Mums we are often a bit rushed to drop, sign, confirm all is good, coats on pegs etc, maybe for the teacher, this is the calm of the day, going at the pace of a child, watching them be so excited to be the day’s helper or for their turn for show and tell etc. But in saying all this, I think I want to run the centre, pick the best teachers, decide the policies and get things happening, rather than changing nappies in the infants room – maybe I am too choosy…and too ranty again!

  11. Draft Queen

    My first semester of college I took an early childhood education class. I knew then, it wasn’t for me.

    And in case I doubted that, volunteering in my childrens’ classes reinforced the idea.

    I’m just not patient enough.

  12. life in a pink fibro

    @ClaireyH – LMRH would make anyone laugh. She is a cracker. If you’re passionate about childcare then that’s definitely what you should do – the women that work at Mr3s preschool have all been doing it 20+ years and still talk about how much they love it. The sector needs the very best people, I’m sure everyone would agree.

  13. ClaireyH

    Very interesting, I like the heading, as corporate chick I am longing to get back to uni and change paths – I want to do my Masters in Early Childhood. I don’t know where this urge has come from, but it wont leave. Reading this I think – ohh, but that’s not what I would do. Corporate life can be great, good pay (usually, not for now) good benefits, training, job satisfaction etc. But it is really just a money machine that I am getting less and less out of.
    LMRH would make me laugh a lot more.

  14. A-M

    Oh that’s hilarious.. oh you write so well! I love all your little observations… you gave me a giggle over my morning coffee! Your precious little boy, kissing your hand… oh my heart! A-M xx

  15. Aging Mommy

    Lovely post – my daughter’s preschool does not venture out on excursions sadly, but you make me wish that they did 🙂 Glad your son got to share his ‘scurshon’ with Mommy.

  16. Tricia Rose

    Surely the beauty of being a writer is that you can put a slow-tour-with-three-year-olds down to research, as well as having the pleasure of it? Best of all outcomes~ happy kid, happy mum, another insight tucked away, and happy blog-friends reading it!

  17. Deer Baby

    You are extremely brave. 20 3 year olds!! Oh my. In an art gallery? Oh my. I like the sound of Little Miss Red Hat.

    I’ve only braved a school trip a couple of times. A few times I’ve escorted them down to the church for carols in the longest crocodile ever. That was okay – although like you say at snail’s pace. Then on a coach to an outdoor science museum where there were ponds, experiments with explosions, things to climb but they were about 7 not 3 so easier. I too had 3 charges to look after including my own. I wonder why they like their Mums to come so much? My son was thrilled. He beams when I go into the classroom. You would think he got to see me enough during the day. It’s quite cute really.

  18. Shauna

    I did my work experience at a kindergarten in Glebe and I definitely made the right choice not following that career path. I don’t even want to work in paediatrics.

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