Labels and other creative ways of keeping your kid down

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Look how cute the middle one is!

I was not a good sister when I was younger.  I was the middle child but I was not the “typical” middle child.  I was bossy, headstrong, and determined that I could make my sisters do whatever it was I wanted.  It didn’t always work out that way.   But sometimes it did.  I got away with drawing on the basement walls because I blamed my older sister and faked bad hand writing.  I cut my little sisters bangs off and made her wear a headband for two days straight so Mom wouldn’t know.  I also was the first person to defend my siblings even if they were wrong.  We might fight each other, but woe to the person who tried to be against them!

My older sister by 4 years was the “good girl.”  She was a good student, never got in trouble for talking or swatted by the principal (I still remember that incident Mr. Winkler!) listened, and even bought my mom cards on her own birthday to thank Mom for having her.  She was a class A rump kisser.  She didn’t rock the boat so much as make sure the boat was almost perfect.  She was the “pretty one.”

My little  sister by 18 months (way to go parents!) was of course, the baby.  She was sweet and spoiled and cute and cuddly and of course, the deserved focus of many of my terrible pranks and just all around orneriness.  She never complained that she always had to play the sidekick.  She always let me have the top bunk.  She did not rock the boat either, she made sure that the ride was enjoyable for everyone.  She was the “baby.”

I do have a brother, too. He is 6 years younger so he was automatically “the boy.”  There is not a lot to say other than, he was, in fact, the only boy.  He froze his G.I. Joe in cups, burnt them on fires, rode his Power Wheel like he was auditioning for the Fast & The Furious, and never had to do chores like we girls did.   I don’t hold it against him.  His future wife probably will though.

I was loud, stubborn, got in trouble for talking and arguing, a tomboy who cut her own hair off on one side only by 4 inches and thought Mom would never notice (this may be a recurring theme and reason I still suck at doing my hair.)  In my own defense, I was in kindergarten and still thought if I hid that I was invisible. I not only rocked the boat, I swamped that bitch.   I was the “rowdy one.”

I hate putting labels on kids.  I have tried my best to not do it with mine.  I don’t blame my mom for labeling us.  We all had such different personalities that it was hard not to label us.  I do blame ourselves though for believing in those labels.

My older sister is more than just the “pretty one.”  She is also funny and silly and smart and what we call nasty/nice .  She will argue politics and sweetly respond, “bless your heart” instead of calling you an idiot to your face.  She has a big heart and a big mouth to match.  She is loud and outgoing and definitely makes you take notice of her.

My little sister is more than just the “baby” or the sweet one.  She has a temper although she works very hard to keep it in check.  She is a huge animal lover, well mainly dogs but I don’t hold it against her.  (Just joking:  I love dogs.  Not as much as she does, but almost as much as cats.)  She is genuinely one of the nicest people I know and I don’t normally like nice.  She is smart, kind, and has a weird obsession with way older men.  Like Sean Connery old.

My brother will always be the “boy” to me.  He still plays video games with his nephews and can talk about any Marvel character under the sun.  He also still gets out of chores.  I did not understand him when he was little until I had boys of my own and realized that they are destructive and odd and smelly creatures.  And he is a terrific single dad.  He co-parents with his daughters mom in a way that I could have only dreamed about with the EX.  But that’s a whole other story, for a different post.

I never minded my label of being the “rowdy” one.  I enjoyed it.  I reveled in it.  And I sometimes painted myself into a corner because I felt like I had to  live up to it.  I can be loud.  I can be blunt.  I have cooled my temper so much that being in a rage seems foreign, like having someone else make the Sweet Tea instead of myself.  But I can also be quiet, I hold things in (not for long but I am capable of small amounts), and I can be sensitive.  And it’s okay for me to be these things.  Just not in front of anyone.

The point being, labeling a child isn’t just some cute turn of the phrase.  It can cause damage when done even with the best intentions.  All of my kids are smart, funny, loud, sensitive, beautiful, handsome, and unique.   Some do great in school, others are forced kicking and screaming to the finish line.  So  in a way, I do label them:  they are individuals who all have different strengths and different weaknesses.  And when they are going great, they are 100% mine.  The rest of the time I blame Dad.





One Comment, RSS

  1. Kristen April 22, 2016 @ 3:17 pm

    This is very insightful, I’d never even thought about it like that. I could understand how a certain label could make a child feel as if they had to live up to it. Thanks for sharing #FFBH

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