This morning, as I dropped Jennifer off for school, she shared with me a problem she's been having with other children. Apparently, she has been getting a lot of teasing because she is tall. (This is one reason why I put her in basketball. Not because I'm living vicariously through her, as some family members have implied!) I was troubled that she's been teased about this but not surprised the kids at school have found something else to get at her with. If they're not teasing her because of how her mom looks then they're teasing her about how much food is in her lunch box.
I told her not to let this bother her. Just ignore it. Kids are ALWAYS going to find something to tease each other about and if she lets them know that this upsets her, they will only keep doing it.
She said that another girl in her class is taller than she is and she didn't understand why this girl was not being teased for being tall. I started to wonder if kids were teasing her about it because they KNOW she's sensitive. I once again told her that she should not let it bother her. The world is full of tall people but short people, too. And fat people and skinny people. If we were all the same height and had the same kind of figure, the world would be pretty boring.
"Besides," I added. "Some pretty famous people are tall. You should be proud of that."
I tried to race through my memory and come up with the name of famous tall people but all I could think of was Magic Johnson. (Me and my basketball fixation.)
I asked her if she had good friends in her class and she gave me three names. I said good, stick with those friends. Don't pay any mind to the kids teasing, because her friends will stand up for her and support her.
I also explained to her that even though she is tall, that's not what's important. The important thing is that she is a wonderful person. Her height should not define her; her personality and talents are more important. It's possible the kids tease her about her height because she is so smart. I started to wonder if those kids teasing her could read a book as fast as she can or do so well on their schoolwork as she does. Or draw some amazing art or shoot several baskets in a basketball game. And I'd also like to see those same kids write as good of a story as she can! "I for one think you're pretty spectacular," I said.
She smiled and it was like he weight of the world lifted off of her. "Thanks, Mom," she said.
What's interesting is that both of my kids are tall for their age. I am 5'7 1/2" and her dad is 5'8". Our children are tall, and both were born early. (I wonder if that's a connection??)
After I got home, I started to wonder what I could do to make Jennifer feel better about being tall. I could tell her things like "you'll never have to worry about seeing over someone's head in a crowd" and "you'll be able to reach for things that shorter people can't reach." But I wonder if there's something more I could do for her. Maybe find a book for her to read that would help her feel better about being tall. Or I could ask one of my siblings for input on this. Both of my brothers are tall, even taller than my dad, and I have nephews who are pretty tall, as well.
I did some checking on the Internet and came up with these links:
Famous tall people
Famous Tall Ladies
Tallest by profession
Hey! Our First Lady is a tall person! Jen is a supporter of Obama, so maybe if I told her that his wife is also tall, maybe she won't feel so bad.
As I often remind Jennifer, things could be worse. She thinks she is not normal because she's tall. I reminded her she is as normal as they come; her height has nothing to do with it. Things could be worse. She could be worse. She could have some kind of...mental problem. Or she could've been born with no arms or legs. Or five arms and three legs! Just because she's tall, it doesn't mean she's not normal. She is a perfectly normal kid! She's just tall. That's all.