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.
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  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...
... we had plenty of outtakes like this one.
Christmas dinner was punctuated with exciting moments like this...
...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.]
Even my mother and the son who chooses not to be a rocker, had fun playing with the vinyl label.
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."