Jacob was born three and a half weeks premature. It was a wild ride. If you aren’t familiar with what went down that day, go here.
He wasn’t small by any means, and he caught up very quickly. At two and half, he’s about 3’2″ or 3’3″ and weighs about 37lbs. That puts him at around the 100th percentile for height. So, yeah. He REALLY caught up. He looks like he’s about 4 years old, and he talks A LOT. But he’s still our little man.
When we meet people for the first time, the interaction almost always goes like this:
“How old is your son?”
He’s two and a half
“Wow! He’s huge!”
To which we used to reply: Yeah. He’s really big. 100th percentile, blah blah blah
Here’s the thing: Something has always bothered me about those interactions and I couldn’t quite place my finger on what exactly it was. And then it hit me.
We’re gonna give the kid a complex. He’s gonna think that he’s abnormally big.
As soon as that thought entered my head, I brought it up with Cherise. She agreed instantly, and we decided that from now on, when anyone reacts with: “He’s huge!” we would reply with Yeah, he’s tall. And leave it at that.
And you know what? It has started to affect him. Just the other day, we were playing, and I looked at him and said: You’re a big boy now! He replied indignantly with: “I’m not!” That hit me like a shovel to the face. I replied: You’re right Jacob, you’re the perfect size! (I was actually referring to the fact that he’s older now and can do more things, not that he was tall or big, but I think he’s just used to hearing how huge he is and it bothers him)
Now, I totally understand that people just want to connect. We all just want to connect. It’s not that people are saying he’s a freak, they’re just commenting on the fact that he’s bigger than most of his peers. I get it. It just also made me realize why we all wear the masks that we wear. (I know, you’re thinking: “What masks? What are you talking about?”)
We all have a range of normal for things – height, weight, eye color, hair color, sexual orientation, etc… (The list literally goes on for everything in existence). And the funny thing about normal, or average is that it’s only that because it’s the most abundant. As a result, when something falls outside of “normal” parameters, we comment on it, or worse, we chastise or try to destroy it (pretty sure I don’t have to list examples of LGBT, Jews, etc…, but I guess I just did). As a result of this, we all hide some aspects of ourselves from the world and project what we want people to see instead (masks) – remember, we all want acceptance. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way we can achieve that is by hiding some things. This is easy for some people (hiding personality traits, or desires) and much harder for others (you can’t hide your height or skin color)
But what if we didn’t have to do that? What if, instead of judging people we just accepted each other for who and what we are? Without exception. Call me crazy, but I believe we have it in us. I think it starts with teaching our children complete and utter self-acceptance and self-confidence. And we have to lead by example. If our children can see that we are comfortable in our own skin and happy just as we are, how can they not internalize that example? Once we can fully and completely accept ourselves, accepting others is a breeze.
So, I guess what I’m asking here (and this may be a lot, but I know you can handle it) is for you to fully look at yourself, and love everything that you see. Accept yourself as you are – it’s ok to notice the things that you want to improve on, just love your flaws anyway. If we could all do that and realize that we’re all in this together, maybe things will change…
As for Jacob, he’s taller than some and shorter than others. But beneath all of that, he is perfectly himself. My only hope is that our influence will help him realize that that’s all he ever needs to be.