It’s one of those days. Those days where even though the sun is shining, my mood leaves a lot to be desired. Not everything is going as well as I’d wish it to, but hopefully that will start turning around.
In other news, the kids are doing great. Grace is wearing a dress that we bought her last year, and it’s now to just above her knees. Where does this kid get her super long legs, is what I want to know. Yes, yes, probably from Kurt — but he actually has short legs for his height. Whoever heard of a man who’s 6’3″ and has a 32″ inseam? Short legs, indeed. But Grace seems to have escaped the short-leg syndrome of her parents, at least for the time being. She’s already starting to have that long, coltish look of an adolescent. Her limbs are now so long and thin. Where has my chubby baby girl gone?
I look at her and I am absolutely amazed that I could have given birth to someone to long and thin. I always thought as a kid, I was “fat,” but now I realize I was just stockier than all the other girls in my dance class. It wasn’t that I was fat. I was just sturdier, more muscular, a little rounder. Grace is none of that, and with each passing day she’s thinner and longer. It’s almost as if you can see her growing, if you can get her to sit still long enough.
Don’t fret — it’s not that I want a fat kid. I’m just amazed that my kid is so thin. She eats like a horse, though, so I know she’s getting plenty of nutrition. She’s just a high-energy kid who burns off everything she eats within moments of taking it in.
ME, on the other hand, is still pleasingly plump. She’s not nearly as chubby as she had been before she started to walk. I look back at her baby photos with a wee bit of nostalgia for the fat rolls on her thighs and arms. She’s still chubby, and she still has that adorable baby gait, but you can see her working off all that chubbiness with all the running that she does. Soon enough, she’ll be as lithe and slender as her big sister. I hope that’s true, anyhow. I spent my childhood being teased for being “fat” as a kid, so I’d hate for them to experience that. Somehow I escaped without having a bad body image of myself, but I know that’s a rare thing.
I already know the things that my kids will be teased for. Grace has an enormous birthmark, a gift, of sorts, from her daddy, as he has the exact same one in the same place. We’ve had it checked out by several dermatologists, and there has been talk of removing it. I’m not sure I want that; as I mentioned, Kurt has had the same one for the last 36 years, so I’m not worried that it may turn malignant. Of course, I keep an eye on it, and she has it checked out by a dermatologist every year or two. But the fact that it’s so large, and hairy to boot, will make kids want to tease her for it.
ME has a skin tag on her right ear, a little nugget, if you will, of extra flesh. There are plans to remove that before she starts school, but if we don’t get around to it, that’s another thing kids will tease her for. Plus she’s got crazy toes. Not all of her toes hit the floor when she walks; there’s at least one that overlaps onto the neighboring toe. I doubt she’ll want to wear open-toed shoes to school; kids are always looking for whatever’s different in order to tease other kids.
I wonder why we’re like that. Why do we always look for something different, and that is what we focus on? For me, growing up, it was my size and my last name. I was bigger than the other kids, and the only one with a Jewish surname. It made my childhood almost unbearable for the several years that we lived in northern Illinois. Kids that are taller, kids that are smaller. Kids that are darker or lighter. Kids with red hair. Kids with freckles. Kids with glasses or braces. It’s nothing any of us can help, but it’s what makes us different and usually a target for teasing.
The bright spots in my childhood are when kids showed their compassionate side. I remember one time when we were on the playground in elementary school, when I lived in northern Virginia the first time. We had a couple of Sikh kids in our school, a pair of brothers with very similar names. One thing that really sets Sikhs apart is their belief that their hair and their beards must remain uncut, and they keep their hair covered at all times. For men, that means wrapping their hair in a turban. Boys fashion their hair into a bun at the top of their head, and then it is covered with a white handkerchief, held in place with a rubber band. Never once were these boys teased for their hair. But one time, we were on the playground, playing a particularly rousing game of dodgeball, when the older boy was hit in the head with the ball. Off flew his handkerchief, and his hair came tumbling down. Another boy in our class, one I always remember for his compassion, raced over to the Sikh boy and asked if he were okay. The boy said he was fine, but he had to get his hair back up, and you could tell he was incredibly embarrassed to have all of us see his long hair. And so the compassionate boy stayed with him and shielded him from too many prying eyes, while the rest of us pretended not to have seen the Sikh boy’s distress.
That happened more than twenty years ago now, and yet I remember it like it was yesterday. And that’s the sort of thing I want to nurture in my own kids, compassion and sympathy for everyone. I can only hope that instead of being one of the kids pointing and jeering, that my daughters will be the ones to wrap their arms around the teased kid, to be the compassionate ones. It’s something I’m really trying to focus on. And what gives me hope is already Grace is the first kid in her class to introduce herself to a new kid in her class, and ask the new kid to play with her. I hope she continues to do that as she grows older.
We could all use a bit more compassion in our lives.