Friday, February 7, 2014
We love to label. Sometimes we allow it to determine who we are or who they are. We hear it often. She's "autistic." He has "ADHD." He's a "clutz." I have a "hang nail." (No, I just cut my nail too short...smile.) Many, many times we truly need the labeling to help determine how an individual can be helped, but even as a teacher, I still don't like the labeling. I'd rather say, he doesn't like loud noises. Or she likes her pasta separate from her vegetables. Or he waves his arms out of excitement. There's the story about the twin girls who were studied since birth after being adopted out to separate families. When interviewing the parents to compare any similarities that the twins may have had while being raised apart,
one mother replied, "she won't eat ANYthing unless we put cinnamon on it." The other mother said about her daughter, "she'll eat ANYthing if we sprinkle a little cinnamon on it." A sentence can change the difference of who your child is to you. You don't even have to change her or fix him.
My daughter is healthy. And so is an autistic child. My daughter thrives. And so does a child with ADHD. He isn't a clutz, he just falls down a lot. We could ALL find ways to label ourselves. (What is that disease when you have to clean before a cleaning lady comes?)
I would never play down the differences of children who need that extra help and attention. It can be a completely different life having children who don't need extra help and effort.
I remember years ago when my husband and I were seeing a marriage counselor. Our counselor was determined to look at me and see "depression" so that he could prescribe anti-depressants. "So doctor, you're saying to me that if my husband cheats on me, feeling shitty is not "normal??"
I chose the route of going through the shitty feelings. I would never blame anyone for taking the alternate route.
But I felt I needed to feel shitty, so I could work out the shittiness. To me, tears felt cleansing.
So you could totally call me depressed at the time, but I chose to describe it as a woman going through tough times because her husband made her feel really shitty. To me, that was the normalcy. Not the prescriptions. I sure wasn't supposed to feel happy. Not just yet, anyway. I told my doctor that I'd rather leave the problem in my "incoming bin" until I knew how to put it into my "outgoing bin." (See how well labels can work?) Labeling can be very helpful.
Especially when it puts us on the path towards how we can better navigate our place in life.
I just proof read my blog so far and it was supposed to have a slightly comical feel to it, (it doesn't) and I also don't feel I'm making the full point that I wanted to make. I think the message I wanted was, don't take life too seriously. It makes me think of our celebrated day for Martin Luther King, Jr. I always cringe a tad at the idea of sharing with my preschoolers that someone didn't like black people years ago. I'd rather make the point that there was a great man who saw that the world wasn't getting along as it should, and he prayed for peace and solidarity. I guess I don't want to plant the idea into their innocent little minds that African-American means "different" or "unacceptable," even if it was years ago. I want them to continue seeing each other as friends that can get along with lots of love, no matter what. The difference is our personalities, not our skin. And in the same way, who we are is not about what we are labeled as. It's about what our possibilities are. Because our possibilities are endless, no matter how you label it.
~~~Katherine A. Rayne~~~
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