Life on the Short Side

Lately, what’s been cropping up in conversations with my daughter Lilly is how tall everyone else is getting. She hit her growth spurt early and was one of the tallest kids in fourth and fifth grade. In sixth grade, her classmates started catching up, and now, most of them are taller than she is.

giraffe family

I’ve always tried to remind her of all the wonderful women she knows who are, well, a bit on the short side. Friends of mine, mentors and former teachers of hers—strong women all.

“You might not be very tall, but you can stand out in other ways,” I tell her.

It’s true, she can.

Honestly, though, I have no idea what it’s like to be short. Growing up, I had the opposite problem. I was a full head taller than everyone else through fifth grade, at least. I was even taller than my fourth-grade teacher.

To say I hated being taller than everyone else is an understatement. Back then, I would have given my left arm not to stick out because of my height.

Right about seventh grade is when everyone around me started catching up. And these days, my height is solidly average for American women.

As a result, I find it hard to relate to Lilly’s issue with her stature.

We were in the car recently, and she was talking again about how everyone is taller than her. In sixth grade she could still see over people’s heads, she said, but now, she finds herself staring at the backs of everyone’s necks.

We moved on to other topics. But later, I remembered something.

At her fourth birthday party, we planned to play pin-the-tale-on-the-donkey. She has always loved games of every sort, but at the party, she wanted nothing to do with that one.

At the time, we didn’t think much about her reaction. Different people have different things that bother them. I personally hate it when I can’t see my feet in the dark. Lilly, apparently, doesn’t like to be blindfolded (which is sort of a requirement for pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey). There’s nothing wrong with that.

Why I thought of this after our latest talk about being short, I don’t know. But suddenly, it all made sense.

At her birthday party, Lilly didn’t want to be blindfolded because she doesn’t like it when she can’t see.

And now, in the halls of her middle school among 700-plus other students, she’s not afraid her height will keep her from being noticed. Nor does being on the shorter side bother her because she wants to be like everyone else.

It bothers her because it keeps her from seeing.

Lilly has always been a big-picture person, a noticer, a keen observer. She has always known everyone’s names, always kept track of what everyone is doing, always had a knack for reading people well. It’s all part of what makes her a good conversationalist and an amazing leader.

Now, though, it frustrates her that she can’t see as much as she once did.

High-heeled shoes may add some inches when she gets older, but right now, she’s not interested in that solution. She also realizes that, in the grand scheme of life’s problems, being slightly over 5 feet tall is not very high on the terrible scale.

But still.

She’ll have to learn to observe in other ways. And I have every confidence that she will.

The ability to stand taller, at least in certain settings, was a strong motivator as Lilly worked to earn her pointe shoes in ballet this past year. She achieved her goal, and now dances en pointe with pride, grace and a few extra inches.

The ability to stand taller, at least in certain settings, was a strong motivator as Lilly worked to earn her pointe shoes in ballet this past year. She achieved her goal, and now dances en pointe with pride, grace and a few extra inches.

In the meantime, I’ve come to a few realizations of my own. Sometimes, what I think is the problem is not really the problem at all. And the more I listen and ask questions, the better I will know and understand my daughters.

Which, from my perspective as a mother and a daughter, is one of the greatest gifts a parent can ever give a child.

Lois Flowers

P.S. I’m linking up today with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith.

16 Responses to Life on the Short Side

  1. Christi says:

    What insight.
    I’m not surprised to find that you are a great listener. In just the few things I’ve read over here and your comments over at my place, I get that. Your words reveal your heart for understanding others.
    Loving getting to know you!
    (And my hubbie is 6’6″ so the “tall” component made me smile. He would have wished to have been much shorter in those formative years.”

    Embracing the journey!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you so much, Christi. Your encouragement means a lot to me. I lived a long time not feeling truly known by very many people, so it’s really important to me that my girls see that I’m making an effort to know them well. I have a long ways to go, but thankfully, they’re pretty understanding themselves! Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Sometimes we have to ask questions and LISTEN with our understanding.

  3. I love that you picked up on that!
    I was like you-taller than everyone and embarrassed by it. Ahhh these things we want to change!

  4. Beverley says:

    Your daughters are blessed to have a mom who wants to know and understand them. What a beautiful blog 🙂

  5. Lois, fabulous word. How true it is. What we think is – is not. I think that is why God tells us so much about listening. May I listen more. Thank you for this post that gets me thinking outside of myself. Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup with Purposeful Faith.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Kelly. I often pray that God will give me ears to hear and eyes to see what I would certainly miss without his guidance. I’d be one paralyzed parent without that! I appreciate your encouragement today.

  6. Lois,
    I can fully relate to your daughter’s viewpoint (no pun intended). I have always been short and it seems like no matter what we are, we always want to be something different. So glad your daughter is embracing the stature He gave her with your insightful encouragement. Glad to be linking up next to you at #TellHisStory

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You are absolutely right, Bev. I guess the key is learning to be content with the way God made us, whatever that looks like. I’m grateful that my daughter seems to be doing this at a much earlier age than I did. 🙂 By the way, I’ve seen your encouraging comments on other blogs, and it’s very nice to meet you here today!

  7. What great insight! And what a timely reminder to me this morning to get behind my kids’ words and to ask God for wisdom. These light bulb moments help so much in parenting. Visiting today from Coffee for Your Heart.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m with you about the light-bulb moments, Lisa. Without them I would be so lost as a parent, especially in situations where my children are vastly different from me! I’m grateful that God’s wisdom is always available for the asking. It was nice to meet you today!

  8. I love this whole ‘stand tall’ perspective, Lois. For sure, we each have areas in our lives where we feel less than, feeble, or weak.

    And when I am in those vulnerable places, He is mighty and strong. Thanks, friend, for this wise perspective tO’Day …

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You are so right, Linda! And you know what’s interesting? I can actually look back and see how being taller than everyone else for those years was actually one way God protected me and my heart. (Hmmm … I sense another blog post coming on … 🙂

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