2e Tuesday::Beyond the Labels.
Labels are a double edged sword. On the one hand, they help us easily recognize things and give us an expectation about what to find in them. Like, tomato soup when we’re hungry! However, they also can be misleading, especially if we rely more on the label than we do on what we know. For example, a few years ago I bought beautiful Christmasy pine boughs to drape on our staircase and fireplace mantle. The instructions were to mist them with water. I just happened to have a water bottle, labeled ‘water’, filled with a clear liquid. And even though while spraying it I smelled something distinctly ‘not water’ about it, I trusted the label more than my common sense. Which is why I sprayed natural carpet cleaner all over the beatifully delicate pine boughs and killed them within the week.
If you have an out of the box thinker…a kid that marches to the beat of his own drum…labels are a good stepping stone to group characteristics together. Having words like ‘dyslexia’ and ‘dyscalculia’ has helped Naturalist and I discover more about how her mind works and how to help her when she struggles.
However, when we see the label before we see the kid, then it can do more harm than good. When we allow the label to define the child rather than the child define themselves, it definitely does more harm than good. There comes a time, after gathering all the information we can and educating ourselves and our kids about labels that may or may not fit, that we have to let it all go and see the child as a whole.
So, when the school told me my daughter, at 8, was a whole bagful of disorders (Anxiety, ADHD, OCD, etc.) that we could fix with medication, I felt a little overwhelmed. I researched it. I asked questions. I felt afraid. I learned as much as I could about it, while at the same time removing her from school. It was dawning on me that if the school fixed itself then I wouldn’t need to medicate Naturalist to keep her in there. And sure enough, in a suitable learning environment, she blossomed like a flower. Without medication. Without labels. All it took was understanding, patience, and a willingness to listen.
I lovelovelove this video so much…
As Naturalist and I have taken our education out into the world, we’ve experienced so many different kinds of people doing so many different kinds of jobs. A fantastic effect of this is realizing how similar different behaviors are within certain professions, and how relatable those behaviors are. In school, Naturalist’s powerful imagination was a source of concern for the school staff. They found it troubling she still had imaginary friends at 8 years old. Turns out, many writers are 1) dyslexic, who 2) have imaginary friends. You can’t write well about something you don’t have a firm grasp of in your mind. She also relates well to animal activists, empathic healers, creative artists, and humanitarians. If she’s going to be labeled, I prefer those.
We all have a different silhouette. We are all a different combination of short, fat, tall, skinny, etc. We can look beyond all that and see that each of those parts create a whole person, able to cast their own shadow and do their own thing.Share Tweet