I never understood why parents would label their kids: "the smart one", "the troublemaker", "the sporty one". Why would you narrow your child's identity, especially when childhood is all about expansion and exploration, discovery and possibility?
The labels can be deterministic, can't they? With you either accepting them and building on someone else's limited perception or rebelling against them and living your life to prove the labels wrong (even if they are slightly right)?
Of course, no matter how much I understand the dangers of labeling my children, I find myself struggling with it. Daily.
E isn't even a year old yet and I fight the urge to label both my girls every day, often in relation to each other. I find myself noticing things, differences between them, and I start to project who they are and who they will be. I notice Z's attention to structure and rules (not that she follows them exactly- OH that'd be NICE- just that she's acutely aware of them) and her sensitivity to.... most everything, and I decide I know something about her, present and future.
Do I know something about her? Do I treat her differently to perpetuate what I think I know?
(Have I totally thought myself into a corner? Have I used up my daily allotment of question marks?)
E's rarely content to sit still, and I rarely feel able to sit still, so I am deeply ashamed to say that I didn't spend much time reading to her at all in her infancy. ME, the mother who read to Zoe for HOURS every day of her babyhood. It's just that E didn't seem interested in books, she rarely sits still, and "she's a gross motor baby".
A couple of months ago, after I realized how little I read to E, I resolved to make a concerted effort to bring books into her life. I put some of our favorite board books in her room and sat down with her to read before every nap and every bedtime and she has, of course, shattered my assumptions. No matter how spazzy she's been that day, she always, ALWAYS, sits still at book time, reaching to turn the pages, smiling at the one that has become her favorite.
How can we as parents recognize, embrace, support and steer our child's true selves without pigeonholing them?
Do you all label your kids consciously or unconsciously? Or am I the only one who sucks in this particular way?