Last week, over a shared meal that never disappoints to bring up random conversations, the subject of labels entered the scene. One of my friends who raised three boys through high school diplomas said, "Isn't it funny how you say you never want to give a label, but then it just happens anyway?"
We spent the next chunk of time laughing and giving examples of how true that is. Beucase... well... people sometimes just ARE certain ways!
Koi has always been more of an introvert and keeps to himself while Momas says hi to everyone in his path whether we are going on an after dinner walk or just waiting in the chiropractor's office.
Koi is more cautious and meticulous about things. He was perched on a stool helping me in the kitchen since he could stand with a decent amount of balance. Momas thinks it's hilarious to do a side-step-bounce over to Koi's neat line of cars while picking his foot up and giving a raised eyebrow glance to Koi.
Koi HATES loud noises and takes a while to recover from being startled while Momas may or may not hear a noise and dismisses it as quickly as he heard it.
The question I've been asking myself lately is, "Is it nature or nurture?" So far my answer is that it's a bit of both.
I do think that their are certain qualities we are born with. Koi wakes up with the sun and has more of a difficult time staying asleep at night, and I'm usually waking Momas up for the day around ten. We didn't do anything drastically different with their sleep aside from Momas being in our bed longer.
I definitely think Koi's introvert personality is something he was born with, and we help him find his words to address people while making sure he's not too overwhelmed in crowds. He could also be more comfortable in the kitchen because he is the first born and I had the undivided attention to teach him how to stay on his chair and pour and mix ingredients.
It's easy to feel like I'm depriving Momas because he's not getting the same one one one attention as Koi had, and the guilt can creep in when Koi's big plans for playing get interrupted by "Tomzilla", as we affectionately call Momas.
Instead of letting the guilt become paralyzing I choose to look at what they each bring to our family. Koi teaches Momas that things have a place, and loves when he can be the one to sit down and read Momas books. Momas leads the way in saying hi to people and, if the reaction is positive, Koi is right behind him. Yesterday the loud revving of an engine sent Koi bolting into the house in a hysterical state that took me at least five long minutes to calm him down. Those five minutes preceded ten minutes of Koi asking me if it was going to happen again, and not wanting to go back out to play. He finally found Momas and sweetly asked him if he wanted to go out, too. Momas happily followed Koi outside and Koi was happy to have his brother there as a buffer from the noise, should it happen again.
Instead of trying to steer clear of labels, I think we should embrace the way we were created and celebrate our differences! Instead of ignoring the differences in our children we should help them put a name to things, and affirm them for who they are and the qualities they have. In a positive way, of course. I can give some examples of labels I was given, unintentionally, that I played into because I thought that was just me....but we don't need to go there. :-)
How sad would it be to realize you never helped your children, or those around you, reach their fullest potential because you were afraid to put them in a box so you steered clear from calling out their strengths and helping them see and work on their weaknesses?
Let's be quick and genuine to affirm.
Let's be even faster to apologize when our words hurt.
Let's love and build up those around us.
Let's teach our littles how to appreciate the differences in others!