Whats Your Label?

In every home, school, family or workplace we label people.
It may be a physical label, or a characteristic label.
But every single person we know is labeled.

I am due a visit to my mom soon.small_4498817330
Its always something I look forward to.
That draw within you, that pull bringing you home.

When I think of my home, I imagine back to a time when the house was full.
My Mom, Dad and the five of us.
We also had a cousin who lived with us,
so in my head there were six children.

We were quite a dominating family.
Outside we were the ones who made up the games.
My older brother in particular ruled the road.

Inside there was a lot of positioning.
Some of us got on great together.
Some of us were allergic to each other.

We all had a place eventually.
Not the eldest or middle child kind of place,
That didn’t apply as there were too many of us.

No. In our house there was a labelled box for every child.
The “Bossy” one,
The “cute” one,
The “sullen” one, etc.

None of these labels were actually acknowledged publicly,
but we knew them.
And once you were awarded your title you had it for life!
That was the box you fitted and no getting out of it.

My title was the “useless” one.
The one who could never do anything right.
My mom would say “set the table”.
I would do so, then at dinner, every time anyone looked for anything that was missing,
they would shout, “Who set the table? Oh for goodness sake!”

On a Sunday we all gathered for dinner.
The only job they would give me was to
“stir the gravy”.

When my dad got sick with motor neurone disease, I was nursing.
Every day I would come home and help look after him.
It was no chore.
I was however the only one with nursing experience,
so I did have quite a bit of responsibility.
I was twenty.
There was no mobile phones then, so my every move was accounted for.
I had acquired a new role in the family.

However when my Dad died,
in no time at all
I was “useless” again.

I realise now with my own children,
that we all label.
Funny, serious, ambitious, the clown, whatever.
Its done without thought.
Its done without malice.

I hear myself saying “Shes the happy one”
Or “shes the competitive one”.

As a teenager and older I fumed over my label.small__567321168 (1)
In my own head I knew what I was, and it was not useless!!
However the more I tried to break out of the label
the more attention it drew to my errors.

For a time I was very fed up.
I must have been fairly aggressive because they used to say to me,
“If you were up north you’d be throwing bombs!”.
I withdrew.
Then I met someone who “got me”, who understood me, and I flourished.
At last I could be the person I really felt I was.
I was out of my box.

I have a lot of dealings with teenagers through my work.
I am often amazed at how wrong their parents are.
Some will say how lazy their teen is,
when I have found them anything but.
Equally I will hear the deluded ones, saying how focused they are,
when they are away with the fairies!
Maybe we just dont see our teenagers breaking out of their boxes.

As for myself,
I will head up to my mom soon.
To a place I still call home.
There I will be put back into my box,
And if I’m lucky,
I’ll be allowed to “stir the gravy!”.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4498817330/”>stevendepolo</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarchi/567321168/”>_sarchi</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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