Aunt Linda is getting muzzled. This is as pitiful as putting an actual muzzle on a good dog, but I’m going to do my best when I visit my niece tonight. Since I’m not allowed to use her name here, let’s call her Taylor. I feel muzzled already at the thought of spending my very limited time with her with my mom and hers when what I really want is to listen to Taylor prattle about whatever interests her. She talked about plasma. I called Phil, my physics friend, for more information. She talked about ectoplasm too. I looked up stuff on the internet. We bought magnets at a garage sale, and Phil gave us experiments to do. We bake cookies when it’s raining. It’s not like I’m doing anything inappropriate, but…well, okay, this is where I could get in trouble…
She told me she didn’t believe in UFOs. I said “That’s interesting. Why not?” She said her mom said they don’t exist, which of course led to my completely logical query, “Why not?” Well, Taylor didn’t have a response to that, and had an expression of wonder that it hadn’t occurred to her to ask for a reason. So naturally I said, “There’s lots of opinions and information on UFOs. If you do some research, you can make up your own mind.”
Oops. And in case you can’t tell, I’m not entirely repentant about it either. Taylor went on a multi-year research campaign and knows more about it than I do. Her dad (my brother) laughed. My mom frowned. I have no idea how Taylor’s mom took it. Go ahead, question authority! For that matter, your mom doesn’t know everything!
Everybody who loves that child has a part to play in her development. My mom and hers are disciplinarians. Aunt Linda challenges her to think. Yes, there are real rules in life, and it’s usually best when you follow them, but what are the real rules? Do you really have to eat Brussels sprouts or is it more important to taste things before deciding if you like them? Or is the real rule that you have to eat vegetables with anticarcinogens to be healthy? Taylor and I have opted for broccoli.
Yeah, I’m probably going to get in trouble tonight. Best to stick to “safe” topics, but interesting conversations are seldom “safe”, and Taylor has probably stored up new controversial topics to discuss with me because she knows I’ll listen. She won a fishing trophy. Maybe we’ll just stick to fish?
Feeling muzzled is a topic I’ve been thinking about for a while, and tonight’s adventure just makes it clearer. Because I want to spend time with my niece, I will play by the rules of the people in power, because I haven’t a say in this situation. The same holds true at work, or school, or church, or relationships. Somebody is always shutting us up because we’re trying to fit in or get approval. We lose a lot of ourselves in going along to get along, or by doing what we think other people expect us to do. Living our truth is hard to do when we try so hard to be “nice”.
Taylor is doing very well in school. Part of that credit goes to her mother’s discipline, but couldn’t part of her success be due to UFO conversations when we bake cookies? Taylor says something, I ask a question. She asks a question. When we have more questions than answers, we get on the internet or call Phil. He used to work at a science museum and has lots of kid-friendly answers and suggestions. How many other kids can claim private tutoring from a PhD in physics? He’ll have to take some of the blame if she ends up in the sciences.
In case it isn’t obvious what any of this has to do with “launch”, it’s because I’m trying to do my part in launching my niece into the world with as much of herself intact after enduring the socialization process. I can braid her hair to keep her neat in public, but her true nature will come out. She’ll yank out the braid or it will come undone while she runs in circles. I want her to see every color in the rainbow and feel the joy of the wind in her hair. But In the short term, I guess I can talk about fishing?