Skip to content

“I see who you are…”

October 23, 2010

There are kids who won’t settle for anything less than connection from the adults in their lives.  As annoying as that may be, it’s a good thing.  They press us to be who we should be, the grownups in their lives who guide them, invest in them, and in our finer moments delight in them.  Maybe we shouldn’t wait to be pressed.

I listened recently to an interview with Debbie Boone as she talked about her mother-in-law, Rosemary Clooney.  The Interviewer asked what kind of grandmother Rosemary was to her four grandchildren.  Debbie’s immediate and emphatic response, ” Oh she absolutely delighted in them!”.  She went on to describe the ritual of Rosemary sitting in a large chair in her den.   As her grandkids entered the room she exclaimed, “My babies,” which was the kids signal to climb in the chair for hugs.

It’s a Norman Rockwell print isn’t it?  Connecting with persistent, delightful kids.  But what about delighting in kids who aren’t persistent or delightful?  What about children whose behavior is difficult and repulsive?  What of the kids who withdraw?  Or those who  openly reject our gestures when we do make an attempt to connect, and maybe even “take delight”?  In our finer moments we look past the resistance to find something we can delight in.

Erin Gruwell is a great example of looking past a child’s surface to the possibility of delight.  She began her career teaching English to a volatile mix of low achieving 9th graders in a Long Beach, CA high school.  The amazing story of transformation was captured in the book, Freedom Writer’s Diary, and the movie that followed.  It is a story of choosing to see possibility and hope when there is no logical reason, or past evidence to believe that either exists.

Andre is one of Miss Gruwell’s students.  Early in the film we see him at his home in the projects.  His mother’s laying on the couch staring into space.  Andre is leaving to go on a field trip with his class, a first for most of them.  We hear his voice narrating his story.

“Since my pops split, my mom can’t even look at me ‘cause I look like my dad.  And with  my brother in jail, she looks at me and thinks that’s where I’m going too.  She doesn’t see me.  She doesn’t see me at all.”

Later in the movie, Andre, who has been working hard in school, becomes discouraged by his family circumstances and begins to skip class.  One day Miss Gruwell catches him in the hall, asking where he has been.  As their conversation continues, she says,

“I see who you are.  Do you understand me?  I can see you and you are not failing!”

A single tear rolls down Andre’s face and we know he feels seen.  Connection has been made, and maybe for the first time, Andre feels the “delight” of an adult.

Maybe this true story is the exception.  Maybe Erin Gruwell is special and her students were just waiting for someone to invest in them.  But what if the only thing that could make this story an exception is our failure to grow into grownups who find a way to see the possibility in every child and believe it into existence.  Chances are a child who needs to be seen will cross your path today.  I hope you’ll be looking past the surface to see.

No comments yet

Please share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: