Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Labels Don't Stick


I once found a can of food buried in my pantry. It was dusty and expired a year earlier.  The label was completely torn off. I had no idea what was in that can of food. My only thought was that it was old and should be discarded. A bout of braveness took over and the can was opened. Needless to say it was a slimy and green version of what I want to say was peaches?

Yes, I’m going to compare people to expired cans of food. People don’t stay the same. The marks of life show in dings and dents, displayed on the surface.  I’m not the same person I was years ago.  I’d like to hope somewhere in the span of time my personality has evolved into something more positive. It is unfair to stamp someone a certain way because of how they were when growing up. I’m guilty of labeling people I’ve dealt with based on perceptions of the past.

 I remember this mean girl from high school choir. I made the mistake of being funny and making a goofy face in a picture. She called me out in front of the class and said I was ugly. I went home in tears.  I wrote her off as a cruel bitch. The end of the year before our graduation she came up to me and apologized and said I wasn’t ugly. I wonder what made her see the error of her way.  Maybe the choir teacher put her in her place. Possibly she realized she hurt my feelings? I’m sure she would have been hurt if she heard me say she looked like she hit a few ugly branches on the ugly tree.  Fast forward a decade and she is hopefully a responsible member of society. Perhaps she learned that words hurt people.  Labels hurt people.

I’m not including degenerates in this argument. Rehabilitation is a debacle for another time. How many times has it been said so and so was a brat or horrid as a child/teen? Does this indicate they will always and forever be that way? My husband, I’ve been told was a bit of a handful back in the day. From the stories told he had a quick temper and was a bit of a jerk. Today he is a loving father and husband. He treats me with respect and tells me he loves me every day. He works hard and is good at his job. He has never treated me as if I’m just a ‘step’ parent. To my husband and kids I’m “Mom #2.” To some from his past he is still that nasty 16 year old guy. I would assume after 4 years of marriage red flags would be waved if something was amiss. It is unfair to say people haven’t changed at all.

What really upsets me is to say a person is just like their parent or brother or sister.  As far as I can tell I’m not an exact carbon copy of my mother or father. My father is into learning different languages and cooking ethnic foods. None of my siblings are into these things. Don’t get me started on the grossness that is banana fritters. My mom is very artistic (drawing). Majority of my family excels in art. I can’t even make a stick person correctly. :( Do I have some personality traits as my parents? Of course I do! I’m timid like my mom and impatient like my dad.

I think my son and daughter are very smart and thoughtful. I don’t focus solely on negative aspects (my son can be a crabby or my daughter can be ultra moody). Some of that goes with the territory of being a teen.  I refuse to state kids are spitting images of their parents. Why on earth would you unload an expectation or death sentence on a child? If every human being was a total clone of their parents (when they were younger) the world would be in some trouble.

The funny thing about actual labels is that they come off with some work. There is generally some resistance because it wants to stay stuck like glue. Tugging and peeling it takes some time and effort to remove it.  After the sticky paper is bunched up on the ground there may be some resonates left on the item.  Perhaps you just put a label over the old one. That is how life works. There will always be a reminder of who we were, but there is room to display who we will become.