Being short has its advantages, like being able to weave through crowded midtown streets easily and survey parties relatively undetected and the ability to wear the highest heels without feeling "too tall." Of course, it also makes most "life stuff" a struggle. Microwaves are installed uncomfortably high; I can barely reach the plates in my cabinets; I can’t reach the straphangers’ bar on the subway, unless I’m wearing platform heels. As a short person, I knew my kids were probably destined to be “vertically challenged" and, as they’ve grown (or, rather, not really grown), I've become extremely familiar with all the things parents of short kids are tired of hearing, as a result of their inevitably short stature.
At their check-ups, the pediatrician would point to a place on the growth chart and rattle off some percentile that sounded like the worst grade ever. The Type A in me had to get over it though, because they weren't "failing" at growth, they were thriving. They were just shorter than most kids their age and, at ages 8 and 5, I’m not going to worry that they’re still fitting into last year’s clothes. They’re still young and there’s time for them to "catch up." Most importantly, I’m not going to worry about their heights, ever, as long as they remain healthy. There is no one ideal size, just the one your body most comfortably is without risking your health. My kids don’t need to worry about their height, weight, or any other physical characteristic., which is why I so desperately wish other people wouldn’t comment on their bodies.
Alas, we're a predominantly shallow culture hell-bent on caring more about outward appearance than, you know, anything else. So, for the time being, at least, it seems like I will have to continue to grit my teeth and practice the art of the inner scream, while people make comments concerning my kid's height; comments that I would really and truly, love to never hear again.
"She’s So Petite"
Peas are petite. Petit fours are petite. That word has such a precious connotation, like we should be handling these fragile girls with kid gloves, as if they were built from glass. It does not need to be pointed out to me how tall, or short, my child is. I can still pick her up and we both love that about her.
"He’s Got Some Growing To Do"
This kind of talk annoys me to no end. You cannot will yourself to grow. Let’s let nature take its course, and unless there seem to be other development issues the pediatrician wants to further investigate, we can take the pressure off my kid to hit a growth spurt.
"Do They Drink Milk?"
Actually, no. But I lie to my pediatrician about this. “A little,” I say. We just are not big milk drinkers in our family. I never was and my husband has diagnosed himself as lactose-intolerant. Instead, my kids have their dark, leafy greens and other nutrient-rich food (cheese crackers count, right?). They have had plenty of falls and have yet to break a bone, so I think they’re doing just fine not drinking milk on the regular.
"She Looks Younger"
“Mom, they think I’m a first grader!” my daughter would complain, upset about being teased by older kids on the bus when she was in second grade. At my age, being thought as younger is a compliment, but it’s a real blow to a grade-schooler.
"What Size Does She Wear?"
What size do you wear? That’s none of my business, right? Look, if you’re wondering because you might have some hand-me-downs to unload on me and want to make sure they would fit, great! I’ll take them! But if you want to know that she still fits into her 4T raincoat, even though she’s about to enter fourth grade, just to make an “OMG” face, I’m probably going to blow off the question.
"Such A Big Word From A Little Girl"
It irks me how we have to qualify everything when it comes to kids. I can’t do anything about my daughter’s height, but I can expose her to advanced vocabulary words and maybe you’d like to take a lesson from her because “big” and “little” are so kindergarten.
"You Want To Grow Up Big And Strong, Right?"
It’s great to have fitness goals, but not when you haven’t even hit double digits. I don’t know why we are still emphasizing an importance on prowess in the 21st century. Don’t machines do most of the heavy lifting? It’s fine if my son or daughter want to grow up to be big and strong, but I’m trying to teach them there are more ways to define yourself than what you look like.
"Where Is She? I Can’t See Her. I Wish They Put The Little Ones Up Front."
It is frustrating when my short kid ends up in the back row during her school’s dance festival, but it’s only so that other kids have a chance for their parents to see them up front. And maybe the little ones hate being singled out for being little.
"Well, All The Women In Your Family Are Short"
While this is a true statement for me, it does sound like we’re all literally falling short of some height requirement for being human. Please don’t give my kid the idea that success is measured in terms of height. That is not how we roll.
"Are You Going To Be Tall Like Daddy?"
While the ladies on my and my husband’s sides of the family are on the short side, the men all hover around six feet. So, yes, I can understand why people would think my son is genetically programmed to shoot up at some point, but at five years old, does he need to compare himself to a grown man, four times his size?
"Guess You’re Not Going Out For Basketball"
Really? We have to seal my children's fate in sports before they can even tie their shoes? I’m not that into sports, but I know enough about them to understand that they can be fun at any height. True, dunking might be an issue, but right now, all I care about is if my children enjoy playing whatever they want to play. Tall people have their own issues, I’m sure!