Monday, January 26, 2009
Why does it bother me so much?
My oldest son is small-like REALLY SMALL. It has been noticeable since he was about 9 months old. He really almost stopped growing at that point. He has never had a growth spurt. He was born at 6.4 pounds, and he is going to be 7 in April; and he weighs about 37 pounds. He weighed 17 pounds at 1-that means he has put on 20 pounds in 6 years. I mean it when I say he has never had a growth spurt. He is in the zero% for weight-that means out of 100 kids, 100 of them are heavier. However, he is not the shortest kid-he is in about the 10-15% range there. This actually compounds his slight skeletal appearance. He looks even skinnier-as if that's possible. Last summer, he grew an inch in height and gained zero pounds. Not realizing this, we thought he was dying. We took him to the doctor-after pointing out that he had grown an inch-he gave us the same diagnosis we have had since he was a baby. Yes, he has had every test imagineable-and always comes up perfectly healthy. For that I am so thankful-seriously. He has amazing eye hand coordination-just a great little athlete, he is very bright; he does great in school. He is reading and writing just like any of the kids in his class-all of which outweigh him by 20 pounds. He is rarely ever sick-and even when he is, he shakes it quicker than any of us in this house. He has the best immune system! I am constantly surprised by this small person, and what a big boy he is so many ways.
His little brother weighs about the same thing as he does, and he will be turning 4 next week. And by the way, at 4, he is about in the 15% in weight. I am okay with that, in fact, I am ecstatic. He actually told me his pants were a little tight last week. They were size 3's, and he is 4 years old, but I am so used to my older son who is 2 or 3 years below his age in sizes, that I forget to ever move the younger one up to larger sizes. I am just not used to a child that grows. I was in his preschool room last week ( I LOVE volunteering in their rooms). I noticed that he was actually bigger than several of the kids in his class, something I always strained to see but never did with his older brother. I hate to admit that I even notice that. I am thankful no one reads this blog (see the title) because I know the comments already....you should get over yourself. And it's true, I should.
So, why does this size thing bother me so much? I know it shouldn't. I mean, he is healthy and happy! However, just this year-1st grade, he is starting to mention that he gets teased for being so small. He has been doing things kind of out of character like talking back to his dad and me, wanting to wear clothes like shorts and Tshirts in the dead of winter, just to be rebellious. I think that is normal for this age. The part about kids teasing, and the part about a 6-7 year old wanting some autonomy (even if it is just the choice of clothes he wears). I try not to get too caught up in that. I don't think any kids at this age escape the vulnerability of vanity, pride, shame, and humility. These are the years after all, where they start noticing and caring about the differences they see in each other and themselves. And from all accounts, it is going to get much worse before it gets better.
Maybe that's what I am so afraid of. Right now, it's just little kids being little kids. But soon enough, it will be bigger kids. I guess I just worry about my son-who has a huge heart, and twinkling eyes, an engaging smile, and just the tiniest hint of a belly laugh left-I worry people will look past all that and see a runt, a shrimp, a small fry, etc.... All of us moms have that pain-we all think we can keep our kids from enduring the cruelty of life. And we cannot. Any more than our moms could for us.
I do this mental inventory of all the boys I knew growing up-many of them very small. They turned out just fine-most of them even grew, and became normal or some even slightly larger than normal. Again, I am just trying to talk myself out of worrying about it. But does anyone not worry? I am just resigned to try and keep it from him as best I can (and I don't think I have mastered that yet). Why is it cute for a girl to be that tiny-but not so much for a boy? And why is it so much more desirable to be an over-sized boy than an over-sized girl. These kids have about as much control over this as they do the color of their skin, their hair, their eyes, etc. It is the same thing as making fun of a kid for being poor or Mexican or one with a stutter or who wears glasses-as if a 6 year old has any control of such things. This brings me the real core of my fears. I, too, was a tortured child in school. I got picked on for being American in Iran, and then Iranian in America (and not just any place in the US-but the lovely deep South). I remember the pain and fear that accompanied being that kid. I remember having no idea why people didn't like me-they didn't even know me. I knew nothing of my parent's home country's politics. I was that kid who sat alone in the cafeteria and who never went to birthday parties, and whose name was mispronounced every day. I just hated it. I don't think it's the same thing as my son being so small, but it does strike a sensitive cord. I was about his age when I realized the world didn't like things that were different.
This is an age old issue-one that parents before me and parents after me will battle. I suppose I just need to take my place in line, and try not to let things like this that I cannot control run my life.