Monday, October 20, 2008

Labels....they aren't good

It’s strange, I am not particularly keen on labeling people or pigeon-holing them and yet I have done it with my own daughters. I think in our family it was inevitable because my girls are so unalike. Paula is “the reader”, she’s “the academic one”, she’s “dreamy”; on the other hand Rox is “bubbly”, “adventurous”, “outdoorsy” and very “blonde”. (You might think it is strange that a girl who is clearly a brunette is labeled “blonde” – but trust me; think of any blonde joke you have ever heard…..and you could substitute Rox’s name for the blonde!! She isn’t by any means stupid, but she comes out with some really ‘doff’ things and frequently speaks without engaging her brain first!)

I have always felt that our labels are quite accurate, but boy was I in for a surprise while we were in the berg.

Paula is my dreamy, book-loving, laid-back daughter. She’s a real softie. So you can imagine our surprise when one morning she got up and said she wanted to go mountain-boarding! Mountain boarding is very much a “Rox-type” thing to do, definitely not a “Paula” sort of activity at all. But this girl was determined that she was going mountain-boarding. So off we went. I had no doubt that Paula would take one tumble and decide that mountain-boarding was not for her.

We got there, got her kitted out and she had some lessons on the small ramp. After 2 or 3 tries she decided it was time to head for the adult ramp….

Oh my word, I would never have dreamed that she would even consider it! Up she went, at which point I had to turn away! She fell really hard on her first try and I assumed that at that point she would call it a day. No such luck, up she went again….and again…..and again. The once she winded herself and she had tears in her eyes, but up she went again. I could not believe it! Unfortunately she never made it down without falling and eventually we told her she had to stop as she was going to end up black and blue. She was really sad that she hadn’t mastered the thing, but was quite proud of her bruises.

I have always known that Paulz has a stubborn streak – it’s hard to miss! But I never for one moment expected her to have such guts and determination. I am guilty of under-estimating my own child.

This little episode really brought home to me the fact that labels can be very limiting. Because I don’t expect Paula to do outdoorsy things like her sister, perhaps I am giving her the impression that she shouldn’t do these things. I truly hope that’s not the case!


Simply-Mel said...

An eye-opening post for me. I too,hate labels, but am guilty of it with my girls. Rach is the tomboy and Faith is the princess. Good to keep a handle on it...

I did say to Rach the other day that she too could play dress up with Faith and I would do her which she rolled her eyes and headed outside with her dog!!

But never say never!

allie said...

Great post, Gill!

I am not so sure that I labelled my kids - although Mel might disagree :-)

But my downfall is that I label myself - and then I believe my own labels.

Simone said...

Its great that she was able to venture out.
I realised that in the end people can reach their full potential no matter what.

The Jackson Files said...

It's odd, because I think parents inevitably end up labelling their kids - I know that I was always the "emo" one and my sister was the "happy-go-lucky" one.

But now that we are grown up and spend loads of time together as a family (through work), I think it is VERY obvious that she is the emo one and me...well, while I'm not exactly happy-go-lucky, I'm far less of a stress-head than she is.

My point? I guess it's that we grow up to be the people we are meant to be, no matter what our parents say or do.

Jeanne said...

I don't think parents can help labelling kids. Far more damaging I think is the labels other kids apply to you - I believed all sorts of things about myself at school and a lot of it was a) negative, b) because of what other people said and c) not true!

angel said...

i think its awesome that she can suprise you!

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