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« Braces | Main | Sick »

I Love You Too, Rocker

Labels are so unfair.  As kids, they can be difficult if not impossible to shake.  I had a buttoned-up image in high school.  One day I wanted to dress grungey instead of preppy.  Not only was I uncomfortable, but so were the kids around me.  Like, "Whatcha doin?"  Don't screw with the norm, man.

It goes without saying that we all have many facets to our personalities, but most of us settle into a recognizeable label or two, either by choice, or by allowing ourselves to be steamrolled into it.  It took me years to have the courage to pick at, peel, and rip the labels off of myself that I didn't want there in the first place.  I realized, Gee, that wasn't so hard.

I'm careful with labels and descriptors around our sons.  Pointing out one boy's emerging interest or talent has -- at times -- limited the other two, unintentionally.  All three boys are finding and creating their personal definition, and they deserve to feel comfortable editing well into adulthood.  I don't want my parental power [and yes, I still have some] to influence who they want to be.  Or, who they are.

Disclaimer complete.

Inspite of my careful word choice around the kids, they label themselves and each other.  The boys have -- in their own words -- been a birdwatcher, bug-catcher, chef, artist, scientist, nature-lover, the athletic one, the diabetic, the creative one, the polite one, the tidy one, the sloppy one, the ornery one, school boy, and the rocker.

Middle Boy [11] is a self-described rocker.  He wears his label loud and proud, but I remind him that he's like a Colorform set.  He's the laminated board and the labels he tries on in life, as long as he's careful and kind, are vinyl and easy to remove. 


In an effort to get the following photograph for my parents' holiday card...

Mom, Dad and Boys - Christmas 2010

... we had plenty of outtakes like this one.

Photo Outtake - Middle Boy as Rocker

Christmas dinner was punctuated with exciting moments like this...

Middle Boy and Papa Parke as Rockers - Christmas 2010

...and a tender moment -- where the young help the old make the "rock on" sign properly -- is captured below.  [Although, no one is doing it right.  But, shhh, don't tell.]

Middle Boy teaching Papa Parke how to sign "rock on"

Even my mother and the son who chooses not to be a rocker, had fun playing with the vinyl label.

Kay-Kay and Oldest Boy - Rock On! Christmas 2010

Middle Boy seems happy with his evolving identity for now.  He feels good about himself and is enjoying the Colorform scene he created.  Who knows how long it will last?

All I know is, my sweet boy thinks he's leaving me the "rock on" sign in the shower every day.  But the wonderful thing is... he's signing, "I love you."

"Rock on" OR "I love you"

Reader Comments (30)

Will trade you for my "Straight Thugg'n" 8-year old, wannabe rapper.
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
Have re- read this because I loved every single word ..and the photos
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary
Aw. Haven't reached this point, but those damn crooked hats better be over and done with by then because those things drive me mad. MAD!
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain Dumbass
That is just precious. I love the pictures and the message. We really miss all of you very much. Hugs and kisses to all.Steph
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Hautem
Those gloves at the end are just adorable!

I hear you about labels... It's difficult not to use any labels at all, but if they are removable or made of elastic, then I guess it's OK... What I'm even more careful about is not comparing the kids to others... that is very damaging in the long run (according to my sisters who were constantly compared to me, their brainy older sibling)...
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLady Fi

I love rappers with freckles. Send him my way.

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Thanks, Mary. xox

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Those damn hats stick to my forehead because I'm usually buzzing around serving everyone and I... *perspire*. Those hats aren't going anywhere, Captain. Prepare yourself.

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Yes. We avoid comparing, also. I think labeling the kids creates a comparison, though. So difficult...

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris
What a compellingly written post! Makes me want to become a part of your family, or at least to be a fly on the wall at your family gatherings. We only have one 12-year old daughter and steadfastly avoid labels too. Sending heartfelt wishes to you and yours for a really good New Year. ....and when are you going to flash that beautiful new "sans braces" smile?
Cute post AND insightful.

One of the things I have enjoyed about moving is the chance to shed all my labels at once and start fresh in a new place. Each time I start over, I'm careful to keep myself from automatically recreating my old life in a new place. It requires being mindful and aware, and it also means sometimes I have to live with a lot of "empty space" in my life while I consider what to fill it with. Having "empty space" in your life is a dangerous thing in America. People are judged by their schedules.

Age has also made it easier for me to remove labels that OTHERS put on me, and hand them back to the giver. An empowering habit I wish I'd had when I was 20.
January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterV-Grrrl @ Compost Studios
How cool.

I hear you on the labels. It's hard work to avoid them, though!
January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQuadelle
Is that not the sweetest thing? A rocker signing I love you!

I love it. All of it from the Brett Michaelsesque bandanna to the rock on/I love you mittens in the shower. What an awesome kid and what a good mom YOU are!
January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTristan
Love this post Chrisy. So much. We try and avoid the labels too, already. Our little Fi picks up on EVERYTHING we say.

But I can't believe I don't know what the real rocker symbol is. I'm afraid I've been saying I LOVE YOU all these years too...

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchristy
The gloves at the end... so precious! I love it when kids think they're so adult/cool, and really they're still children! As for labels, I think I did a poor job parenting that one... avoiding them at least. But the peeling and redesigning? I worked hard on that one. Hope I was effective!! I'm so glad that you all wear the crowns from the Christmas crackers! We all do, too... no matter what age. You're not invited to Christmas dinner if you can't wear the crown, ask the silly little jokes, and play with the tiny toys! Miss you! xo
January 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpam

Thanks, Gabi. Okay... I'll share my dorky "sans braces" smile in the next post. Promise. : )

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Your entire comment is insightful and resonates with me, especially the last two sentences. I wish you taught life classes. I'd never be tardy, and I'd sit in the front row. Plus, you have a cool voice. [literally and figuratively] : )

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Those are holiday Cracker party hats, but they do look like bandannas now that you mention it! I don't think Duke is turned on to that look. : )
January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I *think* you're supposed to pull your thumb in for the "rock on" sign. I love the idea of "rock on" and "I love you" being the same. What do I know?

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I'm SURE you were effective... look at your kids! And we're totally into the Christmas crackers... all of us. Miss YOU, friend. xox

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris
I think I'll take your lead and let the roles my boy's assume come and go. It's difficult. I do want them to be successful. Not exactly unconditional love ...
January 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichael.offworld
I totally agree with V-grrrl, moving to australia was one of the most liberating things I've ever done, suddenly I was free of the whole person I was in the US.

I promise not to tell Middle Child that he is Rocking Loving :)
January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeidre
Aw...That is too sweet. I love the way you write about your boys. It almost makes me want one of my own. :)
January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertinsenpup
Rockon, Middle Boy. Rock on!
That Colorform analogy?What freedom in it.I love.Also, the post and the pics and your heart.
January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSan Diego Momma
That looks quite a bit like our Hook 'Em, Horns hand.

That Christmas centerpiece is SO nice- looking!

Fun parents!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJannie Funster
Rock on!!

Personally...I *love* outtake shots!! Here's to having fun in pictures...and in life!!
February 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLance
love the photos -- love that the grandparents are so very cool.

and really love the "i love you" sign....
February 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSlow Panic
Here's one that belatedly came to mind: "GREAT"!
April 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertinnitus cure

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