Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Size DOES Matter

At the "ripe old age" of (nearly) 35 I'm beginning to realize something.

Size really DOES matter.

Unfortunately, there isn't anything I can do about my size.  At my age, I'm pretty sure I missed that "growth spurt" boat (about 20 years ago!!).

At 4' 10", however, my size is starting to get to me.

It wasn't bad when I was little.  I was generally the "cute" one in school.  People would take me under their wing, protect me, give me adorable little pet names.  Of course it had its moments.  The "short" jokes quickly got a little old.

How's the weather down there?
Sorry, didn't see you way down there!

However, with a few well-timed, quippy comebacks, I maneuvered my way through adolescence with my head held high (as high as I could hold it at 4'10", that is!).

But lately, my size (or rather my SHORTNESS) has taken an ugly turn.

As if I needed one more thing to shake my confidence and make me question my height has raised a real issue for me.

The boys and I were on the playground the other night when some "big" girls (I mean big as in bigger than my boys at 2 & maybe 7-9?) started roughing up Alex.  It was the equivalent of mean girl bullying to a cute little boy they wanted to manhandle.  Seemingly innocent, but unnecessary and inappropriate at the same time.  This one girl in particular was trying to direct Alex, pick him up, drag him up the stairs, down the slide, through the tunnels.  And he was having nothing to do with it.  He just wanted to run free and she was trying to treat him like her personal rag doll.  I was none too happy.  

At first I intervened by making my presence known.  When I was a kid, knowing an adult was watching me was enough to steer me clear of naughtiness.  I quickly realized, however, that my watchful glare was bearing no effect.  So I tried encouraging Alex to speak up for himself...telling him to say "Put me down" or "No" or "I don't want to go down the slide"...that wasn't working either as she paid little heed to what her little "dolly" was saying and continued to manhandle him.  That's when I had to get all Mama Bear on her.  I mean, I didn't say anything mean or yell, I simply took my son away from her and told her to go play elsewhere. 

But then it occurred to me.  I've been overlooked and underestimated by ADULTS my whole life.  But here I was as an adult, not being taken seriously by a CHILD.  This will not do.  My presence was not in the least bit intimidating to her.  And I'm not trying to say I want to scare children or torment them in any way.  I just want to be seen.  That night on the playground, I was in a position of having to protect my baby and I was not being seen as a warning, a threat, or even a deterrent.

As a teenage babysitter (even today) I am used to the kids I'm "charged" with saying "I'm bigger than you" and taking pride in the inch(es) they have on me.  This realization isn't new.  It is, however, newly disheartening.

I'm not delusional enough to assume this has EVERYTHING to do with my height, of course.  I know if I were a stronger person, more confident, less wishy-washy, that I would somehow command the respect my taller counterparts have.  80% of my dilemma is probably more realistically rooted in personality than in physical traits.  But it's not easy to see that right now from where I stand.  Now the question is, where do I go with this?  I suppose there's nowhere to go, but UP.  So I shall take this tidbit, contemplate it, learn from it, and thusly GROW.

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