Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Short Guys

N's growth history--even at not-quite-four years of age--is long, and tedious. Suffice it to say that Baroy and I, at 5'4" (of which at least a half an inch is ego) and 5'1", are not going to grow giants. And yet, N still isn't keeping up with the pretty-damned-short growth curve he should be on. At his current rate of growth, he may never hit 5 feet. And that worries me. Some days, it worries me more than others.

Today is not one of the others. Today, I'm worrying about it. Not for any specific reason. Except for a conversation I had earlier today, when N and I were down the block playing with a little boy about six months younger than N is. (Actually, it was a milestone of sorts, because Deke, the little boy, invited N to come into his house to play, and N accepted gladly. After about half an hour, he was ready for me to leave, even. His first impromptu playdate! He stayed for lunch, and they walked him home when it was time for Deke's nap. My big boy!)

Anyway, at one point when they were still playing outside Deke's house, N wanted to go get a toy from our house, and asked Deke to go with him. Deke's dad and I watched them walk away, and the dad commented to me that they're having problems finding a bike small enough for Deke, because he's so tiny for his age. And then I commented, "but look! He's taller than N!" And the dad was surprised. "You're right, he is. Though not by much. And isn't he younger than Deke?" Nope, no such. Which made me realize, again, that even though I know he's growing, he's still way behind.

Now, we've done all the testing. We have an endocrinologist following him. The endo's current assessment of the situation: constitutional growth delay. Which is just a fancy way of saying "late bloomer." As he explains it, he thinks that N will probably be unusually short throughout mopst of his childhood and adolescence. He'll be late to enter puberty. But that will be good, in the growth sense, because he will probably continue growing way past the point that other boys stop, and so may still hit his expected adult height of between 5'2" and 5'6".

It is good news, medically speaking. But it still means that he's going to go through all those years as the "really little guy." The one the girls like to squeeze and cuddle and talk about like he's a stuffed animal, but don't like to date. The one the guys pick on, tease, beat up on.

Yeah, I know. Every one of you knows some short guy who's had an easy life. Yeah, yeah. But you all also know short guys who lived through hell in junior high and high school.

And, yes, I know that if it wasn't shortness, it would be something else. Most kids get teased in school, at some point. But that doesn't make it easier to send him off into the world, knowing that at some point he may be ostracized because of some genetic snafu that he can't do anything about.

People will insist that those days are over, that Randy Newman wouldn't have had quite the hit with "Short People" today that he did back whenever-he-wrote-it. I disagree. There are a lot of prejudices that people claim have gone by the wayside. Except the people who claim it are never the people in the group that experiences the prejudice. Short people are one such group. Baroy tells story after story about what he's gone through as a kid and adolescence, and yet how many adults, even to this day, think it's funny to call him Shorty.

But what really brought it home from me was a casual moment, the other day, in the elevator with my boss and a colleague of mine. Now, if you know me, you know how much I love my boss. She's great. She'a also the epitome of diplomacy. She catches me in mid-gaffe more often than I'd like to recount. Anyway, they were telling me about an episode they'd had the day before, where some traffic cop had given them a hard time when my boss tried to drop my colleague off at a train station and apparently stopped in the wrong place, despite the lack of any posted signs.

"He starts screaming at us, even before he gets ot of his car," says my colleague, who isn't as diplomatic. "And he's this really short guy, and he just keeps on yelling at us as he gets closer and closer."

"Yeah," says my boss, "he definitely had Short Man Syndrome."

No prejudice? Can you imagine someone in this day and age saying, "Yeah, he definitely had Black Man Syndrome"? No. It would never happen. But it's OK to make short jokes. It's OK to stereotype short guys. And dating? Who the hell would date a guy shorter than she is? (Short girls, we get off easy. We're tiny little dolls; men eat us up.)

Life is going to be hard for my guy, who told me yesterday, "I get bigger and bigger and now I'm huge!"

"Yes, you are huge," I said with a grin. "Now come give me a huge hug."

The first person to burst my boy's bubble is going to feel the full brunt of my mommy wrath, that's all I have to say.

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