It’s the last day of school, people! #6thgradelife achieved and completed.
Naturally, one celebrates with a toga party because what could possibly be more fun than a toga party…and games…and yearbooks signed by your classmates, teachers, principal, yard duty, janitor, cafeteria workers and anyone else on campus you can think of.
Looking through Daniel’s yearbook, I couldn’t help but notice the graduating 8th graders’ pages. Two more years, people. This is happening in two more years! We need to prepare for this. Then I turn the page and come upon the class favorites…superlatives that the classmates bestowed upon their favorite classmates…the ones who are most athletic, friendliest, smartest, funniest, most outgoing, with the best hair, the nicest eyes,…and let’s not forget the shortest.
Yes, recognize the shortest girl and boy in your class.
Daniel looked at it and muttered, Well that will be me, I guess…because, yes, he is the shortest kid in his class. The. Shortest.
His friend on the left is average height amongst their classmates and he, like most of Daniel’s classmates, is a year younger than Daniel. This is our son’s life and his reality because his pituitary gland doesn’t function like pretty much every other child’s does at his school. He has to deal with daily injections to try and stimulate his body to grow with the hopes that he just might reach his minimum projected height as a man before full-blown puberty sets in; not to mention the quarterly all-day visits to Valley Children’s in Madera and the x-rays, blood tests and MRI procedures. All this to help this kid to grow and, god willing, catch up to the normal kids growing normally on the growth curve.
Looking back at the class favorites page, I’m just not sure how I should feel about this kind of superlative.
True, he likely would never be considered for most athletic or most outgoing or having the best hair because…omg, look at his hair! Still there is so much more to him than his obvious lack of stature. His kindness. His wicked sense of humor that models his Dad’s. He has the most beautiful, green eyes I have ever seen…next to his Dad’s. He is someone all his teachers, faculty, classmates and support staff say exemplifies the six pillars of Character Counts (citizenship, responsibility, caring, trustworthiness, respect and fairness) that, ironically, certain members of the school board recently have failed to reflect…ahem.
But he remains, and likely will remain, the smallest in his class. And I’m just not too sure how to feel about such a superlative being bestowed upon my child. I put that feeling out there on Facebook and, sadly, that feeling was lost…because he is kind, he is special, everyone else struggled being short or tall (everyone commenting being female), it’s part of life (the bullying…?)…All true. All well-meaning. All just not understanding.
Scroll back up to that picture and look at Daniel standing next to one of his peers.
Now let us all think of all the short statured men in our lives, men standing tall at 5’5″ or less. Let’s think about these men. Think about what they do for a living. Think about their successes and failures. Think about how WE regard them.
Sure you have your Daniel Radcliffe, Bruno Mars, Dustin Hoffman, Ryan Seacrest, Prince, Kevin Hart, Seth Greene, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox…I’m sensing a pattern here…there are also your Robert B. Reich, Yasser Arafat, Voltaire, Beethoven, Picasso, Houdini, President James, Madison, Gandhi, Lenin and, of course, Napoleon Bonaparte.
But the reality is it is so much harder for a small statured man to be successful and respected than his taller peers. Yes, short women have it hard too but think of a 5’2″ woman you know and a 5’2″ man you might know. We do view them in a much different light. It’s the short man’s curse, if you will. That curse has probably never been more pervasive than it is in today’s appearance-is-everything society. The short man must not only conquer the usual challenges that guard success but also withstand ridicule and even prejudice. Studies have revealed that short men are less likely to be hired, promoted, or paid as well as their taller colleagues, and are less prized by women.
Yes, it’s hard out there for a short girl and a tall girl and a tall man but then again…I don’t know…Like I said, I’m not sure how I might feel seeing my son, my teen-aged son fast becoming a man, being recognized first for his size because our sizes, our shapes, our physical appearance should not matter. Middle school is rough. We all deal with a certain degree of teasing, and worse, bullying because of our physical differences; and yes, we survive…well, most survive. Still, living with it right here, right now with my child, I just don’t know. Before Daniel, I likely would not have seen what the big deal is. I would likely roll my eyes, shake my head, sigh and offer the same feel good encouraging words not understanding at all because my girls all were and remain average, NORMAL height. But living in our own Holland here it is a big deal…
no pun intended…
For the record, for the curious, my 13 year old son is now 4 feet 5 1/2 inches tall.
Grow Daniel, grow!