Right or wrong and whether we want them to or not, labels exist and they are everywhere. Early on we are trained to label things. The whole world around us is labeled in one way or another. As toddlers and preschoolers we are taught to group items by size, labeling and categorizing them into big or little for example. When cleaning and organizing the playroom that my kids have, things are grouped into “cars,” “blocks,” “food” and so on. Bins are labelled with words and pictures so that the kids can find where it is that they belong and they learn to put things back into the “correct” place. Some try to organize everything in their lives so that everything fits into its designated area or spot and so that nothing is ever out of place. And this labeling carries over into people.
In school kids are divided into groups of those that need help and those that are on track and those that are ahead. Sometimes these groups are mixed together so that they learn from each other but often times the ones that need help are sent into another room to receive what is deemed as “remedial” help. The ones that are ahead are sometimes used to help the ones that are just on track or they sometimes get to jump ahead. That’s just the way our world seems to work.
In a larger scale we have the poor, the almost extinct middle class, the rich and the millionaires and beyond. Everyone, everywhere always labeled and fit into a category. And this, this insane amount of labeling in a sense blinds us to seeing what else is out there. At times it even says, “Hey! That person does not fit into one of the categories so there must be something wrong with them.” That’s when we shun people or make them into an outcast.
Growing up in a very religious household it was instilled in me that if you drink, smoke, get a tattoo or are gay, you will go straight to hell. No ifs ands or buts. I know firsthand what a burden that is to carry on your shoulders when you are a child. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are the best parents in the world, they love me more then life itself and I feel the same about them. But, that doesn’t mean that there was no room for some improvement there. Being a lesbian woman, and yes I do label myself as a lesbian, I know that it was difficult to grow up in that kind of household. And I know that I don’t want that for Peyton. Yet I find myself trying to figure him out and trying to neatly fit him into a category, labeling him in whatever label I find suits him best. And no, that is not the best way to raise a child and I know that. And I fight with myself when I realize that I am doing this. And I remind myself that he is only four and is trying to figure it all out himself, trying to explore and determine who he is. And I have to let go. For Peyton’s sake I have to let go and let him figure it out even though he is only four.
So where do I as a parent go from here? I read and I research and I try to educate myself and educate others. I learn to accept and I learn to go with the flow. And I follow Peyton’s lead…