Tall Order

I was in Mass this morning and my eyes caught the likes of this very young and attractive girls sitting near me.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that I shouldn’t be checking out ladies in church.  First of all, ALL guys check out the Sunday morning talent.  You think we’re there for the singing?  Secondly, if you’re going to have impure thoughts, why not in church?  After all, the redemption is almost immediate. Anyways, I was admiring my fellow parishioner when it was time for us to stand.  If you’re Catholic, you know that’s about every 15 seconds in Mass.  We stood up and she was about 6’2”.  Holy …… umm……. never mind.  Her height took me by surprise.  She was stunning AND tall.  There was a euphemistic analogy to Sir Edmond Hillary that I was going to conjure, but I didn’t want to push my luck with God.

This young woman’s height got me thinking about my daughter, and how her pediatrician is estimating that she will be about 5’7” when she grows up.  As a dad, I am excited at the thought about my daughter being tall.  Yet, I can imagine that height in women can cause problems and anxiety.  After all, this girl in church stood out among the crowd.  It was hard to not notice her, and I wonder if she is self conscious about her height.  Throw in the stereotype of women not wanting to date guys shorter than them and it just compounds the situation.

How does a parent deal with this?  Specifically, how does a dad address this matter with his daughter?  I only see the positives.  Athletically, height can be such an advantage.  Sure there is volleyball and basketball, but even in sports like soccer, swimming, track and field, there are more pros than cons to being taller than the competition.  If Natalie decides to pursue dancing, her height will give her – IMHO – more elegance.  Should she want to model, height is definitely a plus.  My point is that I see her being tall as a good thing.

But as much as I am an admirer of woman, I am not capable of understanding the female perspective.  Trust me.  There is a looooooong list of ladies that will vouch for that statement.  So it concerns me when I think about trying to sell Natalie’s height as a good thing, only to have her not feel the same.  But then again, that applies to all her characteristics and skills, and this concern is equally applicable to both Natalie and Daniel.

I think as parents, we all want to focus and harp on our kids’ gifts.  Be it athletics, academics, or just genuine sincerity, we love to make a big deal about those things that make our kids special.  We love to trump up those characteristics that, in our eyes, are unlike anything else we’ve ever seen.  Sometimes, we do it more for ourselves than for the benefit of our kids.  We allow ourselves to feel special because of something our kid does. We allow ourselves to be redeemed at times because of how loving and kind our kid is.  We play into the vicariousness of being young all over again because of them.

I watched a movie last night called ‘Code 46’.  There was a great line in the movie that kinda’ sparked the idea of for this entry.  “Everyone thinks their kid is special.  Which makes me wonder where all the ordinary grown ups come from.”  In addition to being a great line, it really made me think of the gap between childhood innocence and adult reality.  It made me ponder how what I foresee for my kids will most likely not occur.  It reminded me that as much as I want or desire a particular life for my children, it is after all their lives to lead.

In the end, it all boils down to being supportive of our children.  If Natalie ends up being tall and ends up having issues with her height, it is critical that I be supportive and understanding.  It is imperative that I provide her a safe outlet for her feelings and frustrations.  It is important that I love her no matter what she does, how tall she is, or whom she eventually chooses to marry (so long as he’s not a Jets fan!).  I need to be for her what my parents were for me.  Ever accepting and ever supportive.  Firm, yet fair.  Tough, yet always loving.

I want my kids to be measured not in feet and inches, but rather by the warmness of their hearts.  If I can do that, then I will have done my job right.

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