Growing up short sucked. The strange thing is that by all accounts I should not have been short. Unfortunately, logic and reason does not work with the human body. It has a timetable all on its own.
The thing is that my parents were taller than most of their siblings. However, there were countless times that they commented about how surprising it was that I was shorter than my cousins. I don't think that they meant ill in their comments. I am sure that they realized that they could not control my height any more than I could. But the comments, oh the comments!
I am not a parent so I only have the view of the child in the parent-child relationship. I imagine that it gets very easy to simply default to talking about your kids. Some parents shout their praises and some cannot help but wish that their kids were more. There are those that don't care a bit, and those that care all too much. And amidst all of these extremes are the majority of parents. My parents were supportive of me, encouraging me to try the best that I could in all that I do. They did not hold me to unreasonable standards, and for that I am thankful. But I knew when I, through no fault of my own, disappointed their expectations.
Try as I might, I had difficulty measuring up as I was growing up. In a world where the average male is 6' (I should know since I remember to this day getting this question wrong on an aptitude test in the first grade), I was not keeping pace with my (generally Caucasian) friends as we progressed through our childhood. I was not the shortest, so that was not my identity. (In fact I remember another Chinese kid that we called "Shorty" who had that distinction.) I was not as tall nor was I even as smart as them. While athletic, I was not as athletic as they were. They were funnier, and they were cooler. They did not doubt themselves when they went out for the basketball team because they were in fact as tall, quick, and strong as our peers.
As my friends transitioned between elementary, middle, and high schools they were able to take things in stride. In fact they flourished in these new environments. By all accounts they grew up faster than I did. It took years for me to acknowledge that I was different than them. When I finally did, I was in for some hard times as I had just enough self-awareness to realize that my identity was going nowhere fast. Nights, days, and lonely lunch periods wandering the halls were spent wondering what had happened to my life as I knew it.
While I might have matured later than all of my childhood friends, I eventually got there (as all of the textbooks and encyclopedias reassured me that I would). I grew taller, and I grew up. At one of my physical exams while I was in college I told the nurse (as she was measuring me) that I had always wanted to be 6' tall. She looked at the mark on the measuring stick and said that I was 5'11" and a half. I had a smile on my face as I shook my head to myself. Of course this is how my life would be.
I don't hear comments about my height anymore. While I am glad that I don't, I am more glad that I havegrown into my skin. I have found myself, and I am happy with what I've found.