I remember clearly the day I discovered I had the horrendous, incurable, life scarring disfigurement known as “being short”. The first day of first grade started smoothly—there I stood on the sidewalk outside my classroom for the requisite “First Day of School Photo Shoot”. I wore a smashing long, kelly green dress emblazoned with neon pink lions (compliments of my mother and Simplicity # 1222) and rocked my Liza Minelliesque pixie hairdo (courtesy of my brother who cut off one of my long pigtails that summer).
I was blissfully unaware I stood a head lower than all my schoolmates…until they passed by me gawking, pointing, laughing and yelling, “Hey! Look at the Shrimp!” Or created a shadow over me on the playground when they walked up and asked, (in an either genuine research-curious tone or genuine taken-aback tone), “Why are you so short?”
There I was, the ripe old age of six, yet I didn’t know I was “short”. It took some (perhaps innocently) tactless and (definitely) budding bully classmates to enlighten me. Even my three older brothers, champion teasers and goofballs, never brought up my size. Called me Grace Garbage for digging stuff out of our trashcans? Yes. Teased me about my size? Never.
Childhood trauma behind me, I was in my 40’s when I realized being 5 feet tall with a petite build (as opposed to 5 feet tall and 200 pounds) finally has its advantages. I look younger. I can share clothes with my daughter. Wear hand me downs from my fashionista daughter (as opposed to hand me down sweatshirts from my older brothers). I love, when I bump into our high school principal at an off campus event and she exclaims, “Oh my gosh Karen! You are so petite and cute you just blend in with the other high school girls!” I loved moving my son into his college dorm and looking like an energetic coed instead of the semi panicked nostalgic middle-aged mom that I was.
I don’t tire of hearing, “Wow! Look at your biceps! You work out, don’t you?” Well if cleaning my own house and doing heavy yard work qualifies as working out, well then yes. What I don’t tell them is how much upper arm strength you build after a childhood of hoisting yourself up on kitchen counters to reach the top secret stash of Ho Ho’s on the top shelf. Step stools are for wimps and short kids who want to get caught pilfering the “save it for a treat” snacks. Furthermore, imagine the upper body strength it takes to haul a pregnant body up on the kitchen counter to reach the stash of emergency chocolate hidden behind the Christmas china in the cabinet above the refrigerator.
Copyright 2011 Karen Rinehart