Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

September 10, 2001

A tall order: Don't sell Lucy short

It used to be that Lucy’s appointments with the pediatrician were something to look forward to. There was one reason for this, and one reason only: Lucy was a thrillingly large baby.

Mind you, it wasn’t so thrilling delivering such a hefty child. Her head was so large, it ranked in the 90th percentile for newborn babies. This means that 89 babies out of 100 could wear smaller hats. No wonder it took me months before I could bend over without fearing my intestines were going to fall out.

That said, birthing this giant baby was still worth the discomfort.

This is because, all my life, I’ve been puny. I have been called Shrimp, Shorty and Shortcake. During the ‘70s, I had to listen to that awful Randy Newman “Short People” song over and over again, right when I was developing an awareness that I was one of those short people who had (pause) no reason to live — and before I had developed an appreciation for sarcasm. The very sound of his voice still haunts and annoys me. Please, somebody stop him before he makes another soundtrack.

But my short story doesn’t end there. I also used to like to wear my Mom’s glasses because the distortion through the lenses made me feel positively statuesque (and dizzy and nauseous).

Furthermore, I have been on the side of the Big Bad Wolf ever since the dental assistant remarked, “You have very large teeth for such a little girl.”

By the eighth grade, when my friends were all wearing fashionable adult clothes, I could still fit inside a small locker, with my child-size tube socks pulled over my knees. During gym, I could stick my arm through the chain link fence of the backstop all the way above my elbow. It was a good way to obscure the fact my wee biceps couldn’t hit a baseball out of the infield.

Ever since then, I’ve thought, “Boy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a daughter who’s tall? Really tall. Like, 5-foot-4.”

When I married Adam, I realized this was a possibility. He’s a majestic 6 feet when he remembers to stand up straight.

And when Lucy’s early measurements pegged her at the 90th percentile in height, I thought, “The curse of the ever-shrinking generations has been lifted.”

Due to this curse, I am shorter than my mother, who is shorter than her mother. This isn’t how it’s supposed to work. Modern nutrition is supposed to go straight to our bones. But not in my family. At the rate we’re going, I will have grandchildren who bathe in teacups, and great grandchildren who sleep in matchboxes.

I still thought I was in fine shape at Lucy’s three-month checkup, when she ranked in the 80th percentile for height. Mind you, visiting the doctor got less fun because all those endless immunizations had begun. But I had a tall baby, and all was well.

Over time, Lucy continued to slide down the charts. By six months, she was average. By nine months, she was a tiny bit below average. I started to fret. “Am I feeding her enough?” I asked the doctor.

She reassured me that everything was OK. Babies eventually settle on a growth trend, she said, no matter how big they are when they’re born. That made sense. And I was perfectly happy to have an average-sized daughter. I’d still see my dreams of 5-foot-4 come true. No cuffed pants for Lucy!

And then came the one-year checkup.

Lucy is now in the seventh percentile for height and the 10th for weight. Her head is relatively large, at the 45th percentile. Lucy has settled into her growth trend, and the word is this: She’s built like a spoon – all head.

And, in all likelihood, this is the way she will stay.

On the one hand, I know that there’s nothing wrong with being short. I’m short. I’m thriving. But on the other hand, this is a society that gives losers the “short end of the stick.” We accuse snippy people of being “short” with us. When you don’t have enough money, you’re “short” on funds.

Let’s face it: We’re terribly heightist. And it’s all Randy Newman’s fault.

So, while I’ve overcome my own shortness, it seems really unfair to me that Lucy is going to be short, as well.

I was counting on her to be tall. I had planned to live vicariously through her. I was going to see life through a tall person’s eyes, without having to borrow anyone’s glasses to do it. Isn’t this why people have children in the first place? So they can have a second childhood, a second adolescence, a second shot at being a teen-ager?

Good Lord.

When I put it that way, I am realizing something important. I don’t want to do any of that again. Especially the teen-ager part. So, I hereby vow not to live vicariously through Lucy.

That would be so shortsighted of me.


Post a Comment

<< Home