Thursday, January 16, 2014

BEAST MODE …..  what about that label?

Seahawks fever is bursting thermometers here in the Pacific Northwest.  Even those of us who are rather blasé about the sport, and feel much of the culture surrounding it is unhealthy have tuned in a bit.

 Marshawn Lynch, one of the Seattle team's star running backs, is beast like in his strength and power on the field.  The fans have tagged him and his moves with the term, Beast Mode.  The Urban Dictionary defines Beast Mode as,
   " A hype, energetic, outgoing, wilding-out state of mind."  A second definition reads "Superhuman state of being in which animal instincts take over mind and body."

Our three year old grandson is energetic and outgoing. In fact,  sometimes his energy explodes into what you could call a 'wilding-out' state of mind.  He loves to talk in a guttural roar and there are times it seems animal instincts have taken over his body even when he isn't pretending to be a tiger or lion or bear.  He gives us immeasurable joy and abundant smiles.

For Christmas he received a toddler-sized Seahawks t-shirt with BEAST MODE emblazoned across the front.  The perfect gift, we all thought.

Now, if you have followed this blog at all, you know I notice T-shirts and what they are saying.  My grand-daughter's Be Nice shirt plus her Make Yourself Proud shirt have both prompted wondering that turned into posts.

Not sure the Beast Mode shirt would have had that same effect until my husband and I were driving home from the holiday gatherings.  When I commented on the hilarity around the Beast Mode t-shirt, my always-thinking and often-wise husband said he hoped we were not sticking our adorable Mr. G with a tightly adhesive label. Oh sheesh …. really?  I wanted to dismiss that as phooey …. and yet I kept wondering about it.

Could we potentially miss out on the sweet and tender side of this boy if he learns to conform to the behaviors associated with the label we have given him?  Could it even direct or script the path in life he chooses to lead?   I know….pretty strong stuff to lay on one little T-shirt,  and possibly very unlikely, but worth at least wondering about, I think.  Are there other things we are saying to or around this young boy that he is taking in.  How careful do we have to be?

Child psychologist, Brenna Hicks, reminds us on her blog, The Kid Counselor, to keep in mind the implications even harmless labels can have, especially on our children, in regard to their self-esteem, behavior and developing personalities.

She reminds us about families with children who have been officially diagnosed with an emotional, behavioral or mental disorder who have learned the power of labeling and know the hard work involved in helping their child live beyond that defining label.

She suggests we think carefully about the impact of labels and recommends we give intentional thought to the words we choose if we must define certain things about our children for ourselves or others.

      "….try to choose positive versions of the same trait, i.e. "spirited" rather than "hyper", "cautious" instead of "timid".

It makes sense.  It takes work and intention.  Our children and grandchildren are worth it.

Recently, I saw a photo of a child holding a sign with these words, Please don't label me.  Let me grow up and choose for myself.   Maybe someone can find a way to fit that message on a child size T-shirt.

 In the meantime, GO HAWKS!