seeing through

March 23rd, 2011

Here’s the thing about your 11-year-old. She has begun to see through the school she tries to like and the teachers she tries to love. See through the endless days and the culminating years. See through the grades and contests, the History Festival, Science Fair, Math Olympics and the Cultural Appreciation Day, all serving a half-hidden agenda. She has begun to see through the false privilege of measured gifts and talents, the flimsy prize of more work and extra credit. She has begun to see through the exaggerated stakes, the badges, and the salesmanship without end. She has begun to see through the unmasked elitism, the hysteria of parents in panic. She has begun to see through anyone and anything that would make a pet or pawn of her. And that empty stare, that wounded glare she brings to you – she’s wondering if you don’t see through it too.

There is that one thing, though, that ignites her pulse and passion, that giant leap beyond reason, a goal that defies the odds. See that through. Just see that through. And scream your fool head off.


  1. That made me cry. Maybe because I’m a bit sick and something about being sick softens me even more than usual. But also because I remember being 11, and beginning to see through it all. And I remember dancing, and how it carried me through those years of beginning to see through before I really wanted to.

    Comment by Marianne — March 23, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  2. soft, soft, the perfect medicine of sickness.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 23, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

  3. My mouth fell open. Go, go Georgia!
    And I am so touched by your love for her and your trust in her that you are placing this video on your blog. Not all mothers put their daugther in the spotlight with the right intention. This is plain love.

    Comment by Roos — March 23, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  4. Oh Roos, everything she does she does for all the world to see. All I have to do is . . . see.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 23, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

  5. Marianne- I felt exactly the same way about dance! It carried me through as well. It was my outlet and my lifesaver.

    Karen- I caught myself holding my breath watching Georgia. Especially on that last run. Then, I let it out with a YES! She nailed it. It was wonderful to watch. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Comment by Michelle P — March 23, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

  6. Wow! Thanks for sharing with us. She has worked hard and is so courageous! Beautiful!

    Comment by Jeanne — March 24, 2011 @ 2:34 am

  7. My tween has turned 12, and informs me that she is now a pre-teen, not a tween. I watch closely to see what is behind her eyes; which is her real passion, what do I nuture, and what do I let fall away. This seeing through is difficult and inspiring at the same time, so I need to be close enough to guide, but not so close that I push.

    Comment by Michael Douglas Jones — March 24, 2011 @ 3:29 am

  8. Close enough to see the bloom, and appreciate it.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 24, 2011 @ 5:56 am

  9. Your writing stirs me, as it seems to do to many of your fans and followers. I especially appreciate the words “endless salesmanship”. My great-grandson is a year or so behind your daughter and watching him deal with ads and enticements, which however stupid, repetitious, intrusive and false, are part of the life blood of the modern world, is instructive and inspiring. He is not the most sophisticated thinker or viewer and is open to manipulation and challenge but he is learning to question and wonder.

    Comment by Bill — March 24, 2011 @ 6:41 am

  10. Your description of an 11 year old is perfect and I remember well that “wounded glare”. My daughter had art & music to see her through, but don’t you pity the children who have no means of igniting their passion?

    Comment by Kara — March 24, 2011 @ 8:44 am

  11. @Bill – thank you. And not only the ads are selling. I have to be careful that I am not aiming to elicit her buy in to the outcome I’d prefer.

    @Kara – yes, and sad for the parents who don’t have faith in what their kids are showing them, and thereby breed distrust.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 24, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  12. I’m a Mama, and a teacher, and I just love what you wrote. I used to teach 11 year-olds. I am on “hiatus” as I mother my own child until he goes to school full-time (which is in the fall!!!!). My heart aches as I read your post, because I really hate that if I want to teach, I seem to have to do it “their” way, which is full of the falsehoods, carrots, sticks, glares, manipulations, etc. I really want school to be joyful for us all. How do I do that? I feel like I am a vegan chef who wants (?) to work at McDonalds.

    Comment by char — March 24, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  13. Holy crap ~ I took gymnastics when I was her age, and the floor routine hasn’t changed much!! I could never do the back handsprings, and I was always too tall. But I loved it anyway.

    Comment by Swirly — March 25, 2011 @ 7:59 am

  14. I hope my students have interests outside the classroom that engage and excite them. I did try to drum up some enthusiasm and excitement for division of decimals and the Louisiana Purchase. They couldn’t hold a candle to the birthday cupcakes at the end of the day…even the three that hit the floor. Thank you for sharing. What poise!

    Comment by Jane — March 25, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  15. tears and gratitude, karen. and marianne, dance still carries me (if only i could fully surrender to its flow). “all i have to do is…see.” thank you for the inspirational reminder. see.

    Comment by melissa — March 25, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  16. Long slow clap.

    Comment by Jon — March 26, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  17. I showed Claire this video, and she said she wants to do what Georgia is doing.

    By the way, Georgia is lovely. She’s growing up, and so graceful, and just lovely.

    Comment by Kathryn — March 26, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  18. Beautiful, Georgia! LOVED watching you! xo

    Comment by Elissa — March 30, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

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