advice, being a teacher, being me, label

When Your Child Is Given a Label

Although we were the ones that asked for an observation.  Although we were the ones that raised our eyebrows and rang the alarm.  Although we were the ones that thought maybe something was slightly amiss and weren’t quite sure if we were crazy or not.  Although it was us that started the process, when the news came, it still stopped us for just a moment.

When your child is given a label, if even for a second, your body seems to freeze.  For a moment  the world stops spinning.  For a moment you feel the crushing weight of parental failure.  For a moment you know you did something wrong.  Like that kid that you have been raising all those years somehow isn’t the kid they are actually talking about.  Like that kid that you have found to be absolutely incredible, sure a tad bit crazy at times, but still just a little bit of a miracle cannot possibly be the same kid that now is dissected on paper in front of you.  But just for a moment.

Because then that kid gives you a hug afterwards and asks you for snacks.  They ask to go run around and be a soccer girl so they can burn off all that energy. They ask you to come to their bedside so they can read you a book.   And you remember, when your heart starts beating again and your breathing calms, that they are a kid.  That as a kid they have many facets, and those labels that were uncovered, are just another facet.  That those labels while on paper seem terrifying are just that; on paper, and they don’t have to define the kid that stands in front of you asking for just one more book.  Asking for just one more hug.  Asking to sleep in your bed when the thunder comes.  Telling you that one day they are going to be something big, they just haven’t decided what that big is going to be.

We asked for answers and we got them.  We are grateful because now we know that our energetic little girl is perfectly fine, even though there are now labels that can help us help her.  Even though there are now things we can discuss as we support her learning.  Those labels will not define her, they were never meant to, even if my heart stopped beating for just a moment, and my eyes filled with tears.  Those labels are not all there is to her, nor will they ever be.  They are just another piece of the puzzle, of our amazing little girl, who will some day be an amazing young woman.  I am so proud to be her mother.  And that is a label that will always define her.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

4 thoughts on “When Your Child Is Given a Label”

  1. Just found this one. I have a child in the behavior classroom. It has been so good for him; he’s back to actually LEARNING at school. Still, the stigma of being in “that class,” in being “one of those kids”–it was hard. Thanks for the reminders.

  2. I’m right there with ya sister. In the process of finding a “label” for my son right now. When I told my husband I think there is something else going on here. He had that panic moment and said, “but will he be normal?” I said “yes he’s just as normal as he was 10 minutes ago before I put the idea in your head. He’s still him and he always will be.” Much love to you and your family.

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