“He needs to order off of the adult’s menu.”
This is a typical statement made by restaurant servers. Our kids are tall, like really tall. At almost fourteen, our oldest is creeping up on six feet; our eight year old is often mistaken for an eleven year old and is tall enough to ride in the car without a booster seat. Our youngest, age seven, is wearing a size ten just so his pants are long enough. Our kids think it’s great to be taller than their peers. But I don’t always see the joy in their size.
I get it. Looking at them, they seem older. Whenever I am around their same age peers I am reminded of just how big they are. We have to constantly remind them of their size because a game of tag can quickly result in injuries if my boys tackle without thinking.
“When my kids were that age, they would sit still.”
Outside of the frustrations of ALWAYS needing new clothes, parenting tall kids can have some challenges. Everyone thinks they are older than they are. This means their expectations don’t align with my kid’s development. Certainly some five year olds can sit through dinner at a restaurant, but most three year olds can’t. For our oldest, people ask him about college. There is a mix of disappointment and shame when he shrugs his shoulders. However, at thirteen, he shouldn’t be thinking about college just yet.
“Hey, that kid is a ringer. There’s no way he’s six.”
People expect our kids to be talented athletes, like the next professional basketball player or something. I can confidently say our three kids have no future in professional sports. Just because they are closer to the basketball hoop, doesn’t mean they have the ability to actually get the ball in the hoop. While playing soccer at age six, another parent joked that he wanted to see our son’s birth certificate to prove he was only six.
“Are you letting him eat that?”
Yes, my kids are tall. Yes, two of them would be considered “overweight” by their BMI’s. However, they are healthy and still on their individual growth curves. They are just big kids. They eat reasonably healthy, and enjoy the occasional treat (don’t we all). They are active in sports, play with neighborhood friends, and bike ride as a family. I refuse to label them as “fat” or even “overweight.” They are kids. I will be worried about their weight when their pediatrician starts talking to us about health risks.
I know parents of kids that are small face similar challenges. Their kids are called “baby” or “cute” long after it is developmentally appropriate. Having someone judge your child by their size is demeaning and frustrating. Whenever my kids are told to act their age, they typically are.
I guess the old adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to everyone. Don’t judge a kid by his size – maybe he’s just really tall.