This is my first semester teaching at a local community college and so far, so good. I have a good mix of students, but I absolutely have a special place in my heart for my older non-traditional students. It was an older male students that asked me to participate in a faculty focus group to help him with a marketing project. My participation would require a return trip to campus during a scheduled mommy day, but he assured me I would be in and out within 30 minutes. The objective of the focus group was to collect information regarding possible restaurants for a vacant lot located across the street from the campus.
On the day of the focus group, I realize that since this is normally a mommy day, I have not secured childcare. Without much thought, I decide to bring my toddler with me. When I pick her up from school, I tell her we are eating out for lunch and then going back to mommy’s school for a meeting. “What kind of meeting?” she asked. “Well, it’s a focus group so it’s a short meeting to talk about a possible new restaurant,” I explain. I further explain that right now it’s a vacant lot and we will be asked questions about what type of restaurant should be built there.
Okay, so I am assuming that by me using the word “we” in the description, she assumed she was not just observing, but a member of the focus group. She is silent for a minute on the car ride and then says “I have an idea. How about they have a restaurant with lots of fruit and vegetables? It can have apples and peaches and watermelon,” she says. I tell her I think that is a fabulous idea and “we” will share that when we arrive.
We are the first of faculty to arrive and she politely asks for a name-tag like mine. My student obliges and provides me a blank name-tag and escorts us to our seats. She recently learned to write her name so I ask her if she wants to write it or does she want me to. She insists that I write Morgan Elizabeth Taylor on her tag. When I apply it to her shirt, she notices that mine is on the opposite side and asks me to fix it so we match. Apparently with her, it’s the little things.
Minutes after we arrive other faculty members start to fill the room and she greets each one as if she is conducting the focus group. All of my colleagues are pleasant and indulge her with basic toddler conversation asking her name, where she is from, if she has brothers or sisters and the list goes on. She answers each question and looks to me for confirmation on just about each one. Please keep in mine, I have NEVER met these people before and not one of them remotely looks like us.
We end up with about 8 adults waiting for the students to begin and then she takes the floor. Yes, by she, I mean Morgan. She stands in the middle of our makeshift semi-circle and says “I have an idea” and she has our full attention. “I think the restaurant should be healthy. It should have lots of fruits and vegetables, like apples, peaches and watermelon.” She was polite, she was sincere and she wasn’t the least bit nervous addressing a handful of college faculty members.
One woman says “I love your idea Morgan” and others agree.
I have no idea what else she was going to say so I was relieved when one of the students said we were getting ready to get started. I beacon Morgan to take her seat beside me and another colleague says, “Well, we are all done. Morgan has figured the whole thing out and we agree.” We start to laugh and redirect our attention to the front.
As my student promised there is a series of short multiple choice questions about preferred cuisine, theme and price for a potential restaurant. And to my surprise, the consensus is that it is time for an upscale, health conscious restaurant complete with fresh vegetables and fruit like apples and peaches and watermelon.
So the question remains, did eight college-educated educators just allow a 3-year-old to sway us to vote for a healthy restaurant or would we have come to the same consensus without her?