Words That Define Us

My kids like nicknames. I playfully called R “Goldilocks” over the years because of her very specific and changing needs or demands. You can make the same dish over and over, but one day it’s too salty, then next day it’s not salty enough. The temperature is too hot and then it’s too cold. So naturally M wanted her own nickname. M is more mischievous than R, so I called her a rascal a few times catching her doing something she shouldn’t have. She decided that “Rascal” would be her nickname. I had mixed feelings about this and wondered if I had just started a label which she’ll try to wear throughout her life.

Our dog frequently goes potty on our floor (somehow I ended up with an anxious, ADHD dog), so R decided to call the dog “Rascal #1”. Well this made M very made and she declared, “I am Rascal #1. The dog can be Rascal #2.” Surprised that she was so adamant on keeping that nickname and label I thought I may need a strategy to evolve the definition.

I told her, “let’s spend some time on defining rascal. You can own it, but I want to agree on the definition.” We then discussed what you can be — honest, caring, thoughtful, loving, obey the rules — but then still be a little bit of a rascal — teasing, practical jokes, sometimes give mommy a hard time. We agreed to this definition. And then I remind her of it frequently, so she doesn’t forget.

I wonder what other words she’ll decide that define her and if she’ll allow me next time to help with the definition.

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Originally published at conversationswithrandm.me on August 5, 2016.

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