I received the devastating news at my daughter’s well-child visit when she was two years old.
“Your daughter is in the 75th percentile for height,” the pediatrician reported.
The belly on my 5’11” frame knotted. I uncrossed my long legs and leaned forward in my chair.
“Wha-a-a-t?” I stammered. “Does 75th percentile today mean the same as 95th percentile decades ago?”
“What on earth are you talking about?” the pediatrician said with a look. “Pardon?” was what actually came out of her mouth, though.
I adjusted my Size 10 Long jeans with a 34″ inseam, the ones that Eddie Bauer had charged me an extra $10 for because they were “tall”.
“Because of our nutrition and stuff,” I rationalized, “is 75th percentile today the same as 95th percentile when I was a kid?”
“No. She’s in the 75th percentile. She should grow to be about 5’7″ tall.”
I fell off my chair. At my height, it was long way to go.
Now, I realize that my height, 5’11”, is not freakishly tall. However, growing up as the tallest kid in school until 7th grade and the tallest girl until forever made 5’11” feel freakishly tall.
I lay on the floor in a tangled web of lengthy limbs. My daughter was going to be 5’7″? That’s normal. A bit above normal, but not freakishly tall like me.
How could I be her mother? I had mentally prepared for a freakishly tall daughter. I could relate to a freakishly tall daughter.
All the terrible moments of being freakishly tall flashed through my mind. The moments I thought my freakishly tall daughter and I could commiserate over:
- Standing in the middle of the last row of risers every class picture kindergarten through 7th grade.
- Having strangers ask if I played basketball in college. No? What about volleyball?
- Being invited to slow dance in middle school by boys because they knew their heads would rest on my chest.
- Sitting with my chin on my kneecaps on airplanes.
- Never buying pants off the rack because they were too short and high waters were cool for only six months sometime in the 80s.
Yes, these defining moments of being freakishly tall were moments I thought I could share with my freakishly tall daughter, times we could bond over as we shopped for pants with a long inseam and retrieved things off high shelves at grocery stores for short people.
Dazed, I barely heard what the pediatrician said next.
“Her head circumference is in the 95th percentile,” she stated.
“She’s got a big head like her mama!” I cried.
I got this.
This post originally appeared on In the Powder Room.