"The problem with labels," said Otto, "is that they're sticky. And sometimes people get them wrong."
He said this while we were standing in the elevator at his doctor's office, our our way up to an appointment that turned out to be scheduled for next Wednesday, not today (oops - my bad).
We were finishing up our car conversation, and his summary of the issues with labels was so spot-on, I had nothing else to add.
I printed an article for him yesterday (this one from NPR about gravitational waves and Einstein's theory of relativity), and he'd been skimming it in the back seat during our drive this morning. Otto likes to theorize about black holes too, so in our discussion I told him about a 9 year old boy in New Mexico who wrote a book about relativity - like Otto, he was interested in physics and black holes. I said, "It's impressive that he wrote a book because he's super smart, but he also has dyslexia. His parents and school say he's twice-gifted." Which made Otto think.
"Am I twice-gifted?" he asked.
"*I* think so," I said, "but your school's 'gifted' program is for kids who like school and are good at it, which isn't how I think of gifted. Gifted programs were different when I was a kid." The best thing they did for me was pull me out of class once a week to do something other than sit in class, where I was always walking the line between being bored or being in trouble for reading. I know they did more, but that's what I remember most. They do pretty much the same thing with Otto now.
"Plus," I said, "I don't really like labels. Every brain is unique. We've tried to only pick labels that will help you get what you need."
He nodded in agreement, then dropped his wisdom on me. The next time I'm tempted to slap a label on someone, I'm going to remember that conversation.
It's February, and cold and gross outside. But spring is near! Jon and I are busy trying to keep up with work and kids but have committed to house-hunting this spring. Fingers crossed we can find something that will work for us while keeping our kids in the schools we've all come to love.