It might be apropos, but I’m giving books as graduation gifts this year. For the young women I am especially happy to be gifting Sherly Sandberg’s Lean In for Graduates. So much so, that I purchased a copy for my graduating-from-8th-grade daughter. She has been reading it to me in the car and we have been chatting about what Sandberg suggests regarding women changing the world. It’s been amazing.
Anna Mae, my daughter, has ego to boot. Yesterday the thirteen-year-old suggested that she could drive the car to the grocery store. “I’m not going to lie to you,” she quipped with a straight face to a friend’s mother who realized she needed syrup for all-ready-made pancakes, “I’m amazing at driving a golf cart and I’ve paid attention to other people driving for years. I think I’d be perfectly fine.” She believed herself. I could provide a thousand examples, but my point is that I am frequently in awe of her confidence. She typically knows that she can “do that” no matter what the “that” is.
Therefore, I admit that her thoughts about Sandberg’s book surprise and delight me. Frequently, she has been pausing to say that she can relate to the antidotes described in the book. One example came after the second chapter titled “Sit at the Table.” Sandberg described women who were invited to a meeting in order to provide their voice at the table, but instead choose to sit off to the side. Anna Mae, who earned her way into a number of high school classes last semester, was frequently the only 8th grader in a classroom of freshmen and sophomores. After reading the chapter, she described feeling like a fraud and admitted to keeping quiet just to remain unnoticed. When I asked what she learned – forever in teacher mode – she smiled and nervously suggested, “I need to sit at the table even when it feels awkward?” The words felt more like a question than a mantra, but she’s thinking and talking and recognizing. It’s a place to start.
We’ve also had conversations about how I relate to Sandberg’s text. I do get cut off at meetings. The male teachers don’t. I’ve noticed. We talked about the courage it takes to stand up for one’s self and for others when we recognize what is happening. “It’s like the same stuff they say about bullying,” she recognized and then asked, “Do you think interrupting can be a way to bully?” Hmmm – now we are both thinking and talking and recognizing. I am not yet sure where our mother-daughter book chat will take us, but I’m excited to be on this journey.
Thank you Sheryl Sandberg for sharing your story. I’m so proud to hand it to my graduating seniors who are heading off to college and will become the next generation of change agents in our world. I am also really in love with the opportunity I have to share it with my own daughter who, while just at the start of her high school career, is already feeling more empowered through your message!