Ask Her More

Anne Flavin because i said so

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I know how it is
when you see her there
with her big doe eyes
and her shiny blonde hair.
How do you not say,
“Well, what is that you’re wearing?
You’re so cute
and such a doll,”
and she’s happy to be alluring.

For now, it seems
innocuous enough.
She’s bright and she’s happy
and she doesn’t rebuff.

But we know something happens around age 11 or 12:
She’ll start to focus so much on what you’re asking
that a part of her dissolves
into questions and worries about what she looks like,
as if function has nothing over form,
and I wonder
if it starts right here
with these comments and questions
about nothing more than what she got
in the genetic crapshoot
and how she makes the most of it.

Does she learn while answering 
that her clothes and her appearance
mean more than anything
she knows or her experience?

She’ll answer you because she’s polite,
and she’ll be excited to be noticed
because she delights
in lots of different things,
as does her brother
who stands next to her,
who gets asked about school and sports and reading and such.

We ask what he likes,
what he’s good at,
and it’ll be a little bit much
for her—not now, but over time
she’ll learn that her ideas and her passions
don’t deserve a question.

She might have ideas that she learned from a book
or that she thought up in her mind,
but we’ll never know
and she’ll never tell
if we ask her only about
how she looks
and her clothes.

She jumps rope like a pro,
she creates stories about the world,
she can sing any musical show,
but we’ll never know
if we don’t
ask her more.

Will you ask her more?

She’s like you, like me
Way, way before
we answered


About the Author

Anne Flavin

Annie Flavin is a writer, an attorney, and a mother to her three young children. She is writing a collection of short pieces on motherhood and relationships. You can find more of her work at , and follow her on and .

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March 2015 – Simplify
We are partnering this month with the marvelous minimalists:
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