The joy of letting kids be kids without labels

Today I sat and did a radio interview to discuss raising a special needs child, the system and how it works and how to make things better. One of the things we discussed was the fear of adding a stigma to your child who has special needs, which many parents fear will carry on with them through their life.

I am very honest with my boys about my mental illness. I want my son Trace to feel “comfortable” in his own skin, so to speak. Meaning that it’s important he accepts his special abilities, not because they define him but because they do make up who he is and will be a part of who he becomes.

We all have labels. Each one of us. I’m short, I have green eyes, black hair, olive complexion, I’m over-weight, I smoke, I have apnea, snore like a while bore, I suffer from anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and I’m a bit agoraphobic. These are all labels, stigmas that could be attached to me.

I’m just Me!

Trace wanted to use all the colors but I told him just a few colors.

The other day Trace sat beside me while I was painting my nails and he got all excited. “Can I paint, too?” he asked me. Of course I was happy to allow him. That’s when his brother came down and immediately began making fun.

“Boys don’t paint their nails! That’s a gay thing to do!”

Boy oh boy was I on that right away. Excuse me? We don’t talk like that in this house. Your brother can do whatever he wants. We don’t put each other down, call each other weird and just because he’s a boy doesn’t mean he can’t paint his nails!”

I was angry with my son for making such accusations and teasing his little brother. Then I thought, well of course he will though. That’s what society does and what it teaches our kids.

It’s a shame really, if you ask me because I think kids should be free to just be kids, to learn and experiment and grow without facing the challenge of thinking there is something wrong with them. We all have things wrong with us. Nobody is perfect.

FD helps Trace with his nails. Dads rock!

I’m so glad Trace is such a carefree and open kid. He didn’t care what his brother said. He did his nails, removed the color with the help from FD who was more than happy to help get it off. Then he painted them again.

“That was so much fun, mama!”

“It sure was baby, super fun.” and I hope it always stays that way for him, where he can be himself, labels and all, knowing who he is and being comfortable enough to try things without worrying what others think.