I am a person of short stature. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. I stopped getting taller at some point during my middle school life. Unlike most parents, mine did not make a great deal about it. I soon realized why. On the paternal side of the family, everyone was almost of the same height as me. My father was the only lucky one, but seriously, he looked like a odd man out in the family pictures. So like I said, I had no pressure points from the family like hanging on to the monkey bars or eating a special diet. And I am so very thankful for that.
I know other people look at my stature first before they look at my face (well, most of the times). But effortlessly, I have been comfortable with my stature all my life. I seldom wear heels. No stilettos. I find heels to be extremely painful. I fell in love and married a TALL guy. Yes, love is blind. He is the only one who did not notice our height difference. Most everyone else in our family and friends did. My parents being the only exception. As we walk into a room full of people, people look at us from head to toe. Not because we look ravishing. It is because they notice that I am at least 12 inches shorter than my husband.
When my children were born, after the APGAR score, the next most important statistics was their height. Everyone asked about it. I did not take umbrage. They have taken after their dad (or at least we hope so).
On a recent trip, as I stood in the security check line at the airport, I noticed this little guy staring at me. He keep looking at me. After a while, he was whispering something to his mum. The mother kept telling him to hush up. I could hear bits and pieces of their conversation. “Can you please ask her ?” “That is rude.” “No” “Please” “I said No.”
The mother smiled at me, an embarrassed look on her face. So I asked her if the little guy had something to tell me. She said that it was nothing important. The little guy did not seem to agree. So I encouraged him to say what he wanted to say. The mother saying No! No! No! He blurted out, “Why are you so short ?”
A question I have been asked so many times before. But I had never answered this to a child before. I had to be careful. Humor would perhaps be misunderstood. So this is what I said to him “That is because I did not eat my greens and my fruits when I was as little as you. If you want to grow up to be a tall guy, eat your veggies, eat your fruits, eat your greens.”
The mother gave me a pretend hi-five in the air. She apologized for her son’s question and thanked me for my little piece of advice. I told her I get this question all the time, have two kids of my own and I thought this was a good way to get him eating right. She agreed. But she dealt with it in a way that left me impressed.
I heard her talk to her son as we waited for our turn. What she said was very thoughtful. “People look different, we all look different from each other. Some have black hair, some gray and some brown. Some people are tall, some short, some skinny, some fat. People have different skin colors. It does not matter. We are all the same people. Like that lady there (pointing at me), she is a mommy like me and she loves and takes care of her kids like I do. I am tall and she is not, but that does not matter. It does not matter to our kids, does it ?”
A lot more could be said to that young man. But the mother did the best that she could in explaining an important underlying concept to this young man.
It was soon our turn to place our things on the security check table. I put on the table my iPAD, my purse and my black Ballet FLATS.