Women's Issues

Stop Commenting On My Daughter’s Size, Because She’s Listening

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Tall-girl-short-boyIt happens everywhere we go – at preschool, the mall, the doctor’s office, the kid’s gym we visit to check out for her birthday party. It starts with someone eyeing my sweet daughter, looking her up and down. Then they turn to me. “How old is she?”

I can see them working things out in their brain. I know what’s they’re thinking before they do, and it fills me with a heated rage.

“Almost four,” I say, with a tight, knowing smile.

“Wow.” They eye her again.

Shut up! I want to yell. I know what you’re going to say, you asshole. Please just keep your mouth shut and your observations to yourself. What do you think, you’re the first person to figure this out? She’s right there. Don’t you know she can hear you?!

They do it anyway. “She’s tall.”

My daughter is tall – 96th percentile tall, is 4-years-old but wears 5 and 6-year-old clothing tall. She towers above her preschool buddies, she has been able to reach the light switch without a stool for years, she can ride amusement park rides that she’s probably way too young for. She’s tall.

I am also tall, 5’10”, and I arrived at this height at the end of fifth grade and then more-or-less stopped growing. I was tall my whole life – bigger than the boys, always in the back of the line for class photos – and it’s left behind an insecurity that I carry as a slouch in my shoulders. Being tall often goes hand-in-hand with early development, and that giant 8-year-old with budding breasts is still stuck inside me, sharing her insecurities. People have commented on my height for as long as I can remember, and it’s a legacy I want desperately to help my daughters to avoid. So far, I’m failing.

It’s rare that I feel pure, blinding rage as a mother, but whenever someone comments on my daughter’s height it fills me with a fire so bright, I feel as though I could combust. It’s a combination of my own insecurities about my height mixed with my desire to protect her from the onslaught of comments about her appearance. She is barely four-years-old. And yet, people think they have the right to discuss her looks and body right there, in front of her. As if she is fair game.

Here is the maddeningly frustrating thing about comments about appearance: What, exactly, are we expected to say in return? When people tell me – a woman who is practically six feet and who THEY ARE STARING AT – that my daughter is tall, I often just point at myself and say, “Well, yeah.” I mean seriously, what do these people want? A medal? Here’s your National You Noticed A Kid’s Height Award, congratulations!!!

These people are not announcing anything that I haven’t figured already out. I knew my kids would be tall before they even existed – my husband and I both come from families filled with Talls. There is a thing called genetics, and I hear it works.

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