Sunday, May 2, 2010

On being tall

I have tall kids. Really tall. So tall that every time I take one of them to the doctor the same nurse asks me how tall my husband is. I answer, "6' 2,"" and she acts surprised. Then she steps back, sizes me up, and concludes that I'm tall but not that tall. The same conversation. Every time.

Having tall kids is a mixed bag. It's got its perks. But it's also taught me more about myself than I care to know.

Kids two and under get in free to all Disney parks. And if your two-year-old happens to be 43" tall, she qualifies to ride just about everything there is to ride. Jimmy and I are taking Jalynn to California Adventure on Tuesday, a little belated Mother's Day celebration (at least that's our excuse this time). I anticipate raised eyebrows at the ticket entrance and already have a copy of her birth certificate in my bag. I feel like we're beating the system.

Jalynn loves playing with Savannah, the girl from across the street. J's got her by about an inch. Savannah will be five later this month. And while Jalynn may look like she's headed off to kindergarten, in every other way she is undeniably two-and-a-half. She laughs at things two-and-a-half-year-olds think are funny and falls apart when the tiniest thing doesn't go her way—a crooked blanket, having to wear pj's to bed rather than a tu tu and winter jackst, being told "no" to just about anything. Up until February she wore diapers like--well--like a typical two-year-old.

She'd be climbing the slide at the park as confident as ever, wet bulky diaper sagging noticeably under her pink sweats. I, on the other hand, had become a master at redirecting every mommy-to-mommy chat to Jalynn's age. "Your son is so handsome," I'd tell the other mom. "How old is he?" I knew, of course, that she'd do the nice thing: return the compliment and ask how old Jalynn is. Ahh ... unspoken judgement averted. Contrary to how it might appear, my diaper-wearing daughter is not four years old. She's only two. And that, my friends, is acceptable.

But who would really care if she wore diapers past the age my Parents magazine says is typical? Who cared if she showed no interest in coloring between the lines or in counting beyond 10. As I stood there watching Jalynn's little diapered behind run towards the swing, I realized that I did. I cared. And not for her sake--she was more sure of herself than I've ever been--but for the sake of the other mommies by whose perceived judgments I graded my success as a mother.

At 29" and 22 pounds, Malakye is stretching his 12 month footie pj's to the max. He's six months old. He started sitting on his own yesterday, about two weeks later than what my Parents magazine says is typical ...

Father, remind me every day that You didn't give me my children so that I could teach them to perform for an audience that may or may not be watching. No. You've loaned them to me for a while so that I can show them Your love--Your unconditional, can't-be-earned-or-lost love.

Transform me, God. But don't let my kids change.

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