The Nature of Authority

Dear Buttercup, 

I’ve spent some time worrying for you and your mama, but it occurs to me that I haven’t spent a lot of time dreaming and hoping about you until now. It’s like we got the green light to be excited to meet you, and I’m ready to be excited. 

You and I, we have some things in common. The baby girl in a family of four— it’s an interesting position to be in. I think people will expect you to be one extreme or another— either the quiet one, in contrast to your boisterous siblings, or the one who raises a huge ruckus, so you don’t get lost in the shuffle. I think there are other options, there. 

One of the things I’ve struggled with is the idea that someone else is always in charge. If you’re the baby, you go from home where you’re not in charge to the playground where you’re not in charge to school… you get the idea. It took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea of authority. A much longer amount of time than it takes those oldest children, whose first words seem to be “Mom said you have to listen to me!” So I’m hoping I can make your learning curve shorter.

Here are some things I’ve learned about it so far: 

  • For the most part, people don’t give you authority. Authority is something you have because you know what you’re talking about. Because you know you can trust yourself. When you trust yourself, you inspire others to trust you. Your mommy and daddy are going to help you get to a place where you can trust yourself. You’ll be on your way before you know it.
  • There are really simple things you can do to reinforce authority. Look people in the eye, in a friendly way. Smile, but not apologetically. Stand up tall. (You have awhile on this one, I promise.) For some reason, it helps to wear red near your face. It’s kind of strange, but it totally works.
  • Take a deep breath before you talk (again, you’ve got some time on this). Say what you have to say clearly and loud enough for people to hear you. Then, stop talking, look them in the eye, and if it’s right, smile.
  • Don’t try to be in charge of everything, all the time. It’s one of the strange things that you’ll discover when you’ve been here kind of a long time— the people who have to be in charge of everything? They’re not the strongest ones. There are things that you can trust other people to handle. I think you’ll probably get a quick handle on this, because you’ve got a mommy and daddy whose strengths complement each other, and your big brothers and sister are each so outstanding in their own way. Find the things where you can make a difference, and put your energy there. 

Little miss, I’m so excited to meet you. You’re going to have a great adventure of a life, and I can’t wait to learn what you have to teach me! I’ll meet you in a few months!

Great-auntie M.


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