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.

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  1. I just love how you are raising your kids. It's just some people are very intolerant that if they don't agree with what they're seeing, they'd critic it (I am sometimes like this, but I am learning to be more tolerant of others.) I think this is what the world lacks. Thanks for posting this and encouraging change.

    1. Awww thank you for your kind words Jessica. It's nice to know and I hope I'm doing a good job with them. They seem to be good kids, but life is about learning, right. Thanks for posting 🙂

  2. What a great post! You sound like such a great mom! As for boys with nail polish – I think it looks great on Steven Tyler – don't you?

  3. In our house we have a similar saying, "In this house we build each other up!" and they have to repeat it several times for each insult they fling at each other. It's hard to drill/example how to be supportive, loving, compassionate & full of grace when society/tv/school is so opposite but we march on, one step at a time, doing the very best we can.

    Tell him that my oldest son loved to get his nails painted too. 🙂

    1. Oh I love that use that too! That's what I tell the boys. Breaking each other down serves no purpose. I love your method and I will implement that.

  4. Hi Jodi:

    I talk about this a lot too because while we all want our kids to be totally carefree and accepted and supported for who they are, reality is that schools here at least are I'll equipped to help or support those kids unless they get a label. I have been told my daughter is the only child at her school generating any paperwork, therefore the only one generating an ea for support. That upsets me for the other kids who need help but don't get it because parents refuse to accept a potential diagnosis, or because school fails to advocate enough on behalf of the students.

    Fingernails are only fingernails. Of course it is fun. Glad you embrace it as much as he does. My nephew use to wear fake long hair braids everywhere when he was like 3-8 yrs old!! That was kind of comical but whatever. Kids should be allowed to be kids.

  5. 🙂 I love this post. I love that you were on that so quickly too. Your response was awesome. Fun should be embraced…and like Aeryn mentioned, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Fab post, lady…as usual!

    1. That's often typical of guys, I think because they've been taught it means you are gay or something and it's natural I think for boys to just feel wrong about it. But when they are little I think they forget, kids love to explore things

  6. WAY to go! I would love to hear the interview! I have a special needs sister and it's heart breaking to see & know the labels she must receive. I remember being in high school & a kids made a comment about my sisters bus calling it names such as "Re&ard" bus. I didn't even think I hauled off and punched him, LOL Ok I could of handed myself better but I was a teenager & that was a baby sister on that bus. I see the challenged she is facing now as an adult & the province is not doing enough to help her. The waiting lists are way to long for residence & my poor mother is emotionally drained. I am glad you let him, paint away his smile shows just how much it really means to him. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Awww I'm sorry Tammy. I understand and can feel your pain in waiting to get help for your sister. We are very blessed to have services in place for our son right now. Yeah his face shows it all doesn't it 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  7. Definitely how I raise my little girlie… I wish the whole world would just let kids be kids though… that would definitely be part of my perfect world. Great reading this today!

  8. I loved reading this post and I wish everyone shared your way of thinking. Your children are very lucky to have you for a mom!

  9. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, FUN should be embraced! Your children are lucky to have you to guide them on ignoring labels Jodi! My nephew has watched my nails studiously while I've painted them in the past, so maybe one day he'll want to try it himself too, lol (He's only 1 1/2 yo, so I keep him at a distance currently 'cause of the fumes, heh.)

  10. Awesome stuff Jodi! And I couldn't think of a better person to interview than you, especially if you speak as well as you write. As for the nail painting, my neighbour's son painted his nails last week and went to school with it and I would gladly paint my nails with my kids if that's what they wanted to do. Kids are kids and we need to stop placing labels on everything and remember that. Great Post!

    1. Thanks Chris I appreciate it. I know eh, I mean come on painting nails is fun. Next time I see you I'll bring my bright orange nail polish and we'll do your nails right tee hee hee 🙂

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