All of us worry about our kids. Worry is the very essence of parenthood. We want them to be healthy, happy, safe, accepted, strong, capable, and all of the things. We (especially as first-time parents) strain our eyes trying to comprehend percentile charts, we carefully catalog their every tiny milestone, always wondering, Is this okay? Is this normal? Are we doing alright?
Worrying is the most normal thing of all.
We’re inundated constantly with marketing that feeds these worries and feasts on our fears. I’ve received targeted ads for a protein powder that promises to help your child achieve a “healthy” height. I’ve overheard parents discussing their worries among themselves, “My little one looks so small compared to her classmates, my worst fear is that she’ll never make 5 feet.”
To get right to it: I’m short.
I was average size at birth and colossal as a toddler, but by preschool, I was already the smallest in my class and by elementary, I had fallen off the growth chart altogether. As an adult, I never did make it to 5 feet. And… I’m fine. As I grew up (or didn’t, much), my mother fretted a normal amount over it. She occasionally had me take calcium supplements, in case my aversion to dairy milk was the culprit. She took me in for a bone scan some time around puberty to make sure there was nothing structurally wrong with my skeleton. When I saw an orthopedic surgeon for knee pain in high school, my mother asked him for clarification three times when he told us my growth plates were closed. She even, once (at my own begging, pleading, and urging, not her idea) asked my pediatrician about injecting me with growth hormones. And although sitting around waiting for a growth spurt that never came was annoying, she never, ever let me feel like it was something that needed to happen to me in order for me to be complete.
If you have fears about your child being short, I am here as a “vertically challenged” adult to tell you: it’s fine! I can drive a car, I have a loving partner and plenty of friends and many talents, and a step stool in every room of the house. I’m doing just fine. If your child is not the tallest, or the smartest, or the strongest or most athletic, if your child has trouble with reading or their weight fluctuates or they get tongue-tied public speaking, they’re still going to be fine. As parents we all sometimes need a reminder that our job is not to raise the best, perfect humans, our job is to love the whole kid we’ve been given. It’s easy to love and praise their strengths but it is so important that we also love and support their weaknesses as best we can.