Once upon a time there lived a woman who we will refer to from now on as All Powerful Being.
Before attending the Prestigious Progressive Idealistic Institution of Higher Learning, she
never thought she would marry and was hopelessly devoted to perfection in academics. Her teachers
considered her the “golden child.” After a brief encounter with a boy who shall
not be named, who dominated her life and prevented her from making friends, she found outlets
for her independence in running, bird watching and chorus. After graduation her magic powers
consisted of being a literate reader-editor extraordinaire, which she put to good use conversing
articulately with the unsuspecting youth of her kingdom about the power of words, and covering
their pitiful attempts at literary analysis with red pen marks, single-handedly upholding the
integrity of the English language.
On Mother’s Day, a very special day, the All Powerful Being gave birth to a beautiful
baby girl with golden curls and bright blue eyes. The girl was a bubbly, smiling, bundle of
energy and joy. Her name was Juliana. On paper the girl appeared to have a charmed life in
many ways. She was white, heterosexual, able bodied, from a two highly educated parent upper
middle class family in a wealthy, safe town with a good school system. She came from privilege.
There were so many things going for her. How could she do anything but succeed?
Any woman who gives birth on Mother’s Day is granted the first wish that comes into
her mind. All Powerful Being was so enamored of her beautiful baby girl that her first thought
was that she wanted this girl to remain a child forever. All Powerful Being got her wish with
the consequences for better and for worse. All Powerful Being was an incredible mother who
taught her children many things and cherished taking advantage of teachable moments and reading
to her children. Her daughter, Juliana, turned out to be a responsible and happy young adult.
All Powerful Being regretted that she had to give up her magic powers as literate reader editor
extraordinaire and transform them into magical powers as “Household CEO.”
After the daughter reached the height of 4’10,” the spell started to take its
toll. The girl never grew taller and never developed a “real women have curves” body.
The girl yearned to appear wispy and sophisticated and to be a part of the adult world. She
spent time talking with teachers at recess, and with older relatives at holiday meals, instead
of talking with cousins. The girl carried herself with dignity and did not make a big deal
about her height. She felt no need to compensate for her youthful appearance by wearing high
heels or dressing up in fancy clothes to make her appear older. This attitude enabled her to
go through school without being picked on.
The All Powerful Being, who herself had gained self confidence and a feeling of power from
running, had seen her daughter’s stamina and recognized the potential to give her daughter
the same sense of independence and assurance. She encouraged her daughter to try running. Juliana,
influenced by her internalized expectation that absolutely everything was worth trying at least
once for a little bit, agreed to start running. She fell in love with the sport and was soon
so addicted to running that she became antsy if she did not get a chance to get out and run.
As Ms. Juliana ran alone on the levee along the Connecticut River one morning, the sun was
just rising to her right. Because of the angle of the sun her shadow cast long across the water,
making her look tall. Something special about the way the light hit the water caused a rainbow
bubble to form around her on the grass by the river. Her arms pumping, her stride long and
powerful, she was moving under her own power. She felt like she was on top of the world.
Juliana felt very privileged to come from the background she had and to have the opportunities
she was given. She wanted to give back to the community by teaching the next generation whatever
she could. Being faced with the image of a body that looked like that of a preadolescent every
time she looked in the mirror did not help her feel competent. Her students stood next to her,
measured across with their hand to compare heights and then pointed out “I’m almost
as tall as you.” Juliana felt frustrated and no longer wanted to be a child forever.
But maybe she did. Juliana liked to act goofy, was easily entertained by small activities,
and had a short attention span just like the preschoolers and early elementary school students
she wanted to teach. Perhaps being a teacher would help her tap into her inner child, but still
require her to be the adult. Young children respect authority and anyone who is older and would
love her unconditionally. Juliana felt comfortable in the classroom on the floor or in furniture
made for children which she fit into better than the large furniture in the classrooms at the
Make Change the World Institution of Higher Learning.
Juliana had a pretty strong female role model in the All Powerful Being, but she grew into
her own person at the Make Change in the World Institution. Being at a women’s college
let Juliana make close friendships without the constant obsession over boys. Juliana did not
feel like a wispy sophisticated woman whom men would be interested in. She looked like a child,
for goodness sake. Finding a life partner was not on the top her priorities, yet although she
loved romantic comedies and romances in stories. The All Powerful Being had found her match
without really trying at the end of college, and Juliana felt confident that she would find
the right one without the drama of dating. For the moment she was content to focus on developing
her body through running and her mind through academics.
The Make Change in the World institution got Juliana to think critically about education as
a means for community building and social constructivism. Education and learning for its own
sake were valued at the Make Change in the World institution. Teachers could make a positive,
valuable difference in the world. Education was not just seen as a profession to fall back
on if something more prestigious didn’t come along.