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There Are No Freaks Here, Just Us

Embracing who you are takes the sting out of teasing

On the drive home from school the other day, my 9-year-old daughter asks: “What does 'freakishly' mean?” 

Uh oh, I think to myself. 

“What makes you ask?” 

“[So-and-so] told me today that I am ‘freakishly tall’,” she said. 

It’s all I can do to not freak out.

“It means ‘very.’ ”  

Since you can’t see me, you wouldn’t know that I am 5 feet 10 inches.  My husband is 6 feet 3 inches.  I have two sisters, one is 6 feet 3 inches and the other – the short one – is 5 feet 7 inches.  My brother is about 6 feet 1 inch and my grandmother was so tall for a woman in her day that everyone called her “Big Josie.”  

You’ve got the visual now – you could say that there is just a bit of height in my genes.   

All three of my children have always been “off the charts” for height at the pediatrician’s office.  It’s just the way we make them. 

My 9-year-old is about 58 inches, which means that she can be easily mistaken for a fifth-grader based on her height. Same goes for my first-grader – she’s as tall as some of the third-graders.  And my son in kindergarten, same thing.

I was self-conscious about my height for a long time, so I now over-compensate for this by always trying to help my kids feel comfortable in these tall bodies we’ve been given.  I say things like, “Of course you’re the tallest one in your class, I’m the tallest mom.”    

Later on that evening, I asked my 9-year-old daughter what she did when [so-and-so] said that she was freakishly tall.

“I didn’t do anything because I didn’t know what ‘freakishly’ meant,” she said. 

“Does it bother you that you are taller than everyone in your class?”

“Nope.” 

Her confidence is so much higher than mine ever was at her age. I don’t know if this is just how she is or if I have actually done something right (it’s probably just the way she is!). I worry about how much this will change as she reaches the middle school years.  

But for now, I keep sending the same message: We are each different. It’s just the way we were made. It would be way boring if we were all the same.

Some of us are tall, some short; some of us have white skin, some brown; some people have straight hair, some have curly.  The important thing I want my kids to know is no matter what’s on the outside, we are all the same on the inside.

And yes, in our house we are freakishly tall and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Leesa March 23, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Tell that beautiful, smart and extremely kind daughter of yours that her freakishly tall friend Riley says tall is "in"! One day these amazing little girls will realize just how lucky they are...and that comes from a shorty! Wee done Kathy Leesa
Leesa March 23, 2011 at 06:39 PM
*well done
Beth Sarre March 23, 2011 at 07:06 PM
I can so identify with your daughter, and with you Kathy. I was always the tallest in my class and I wasn't as confident as she is either. It wasn't until I was older that I was able to embrace my height and be comfortable with it. Wearing heals is still a bit uncomfortable at times but I still do it! :) All the things you tell your kids are exactly what gives them the confidence to be comfortable with who they are! Kudos - great article and great message!
Laurie Durkin March 27, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Well Kathy I think this should be a new vocabulary word at school because last week Maeve told me someone told her she was - freakishly flexable - all of a sudden she didnt want to stretch anymore or go to dance class until I told her it was special. Now miss flexable has the highest kick in hip hop and has caught the attention of two teachers at dance who would like her to enroll in ballet next year! Of course this has made her feel much better about herself and me working extra hours at work HA HA! Also the funny thing about the high school girls and the high heels...having experience in this area as well...when regarding the proms and the height of their dates..It's the boys moms who are concerned the most.The girls have no problem being 5'9-5'10 4 inch heels and beautiful dresses- they just dont want to fall in the platforms! Besides its all about the HAIR! Your girls are just perfect!
Kathy Yevchak March 27, 2011 at 11:21 PM
My sister texted me to say that I listed her height incorrectly - she is actually 6 feet, 3 and 3/4 inches - so she rounds up to 6'4"! Sorry, L.O.! Also, one of our favorite books from when were little was "The Very Tall Little Girl" by Phyllis Krasilovsky (it's out of print now, but you can still find copies online: http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/7025844/used/Very%20Tall%20Little%20Girl) Thanks everyone!

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