My husband is a big guy. When I first developed a crush on him as a young teenager, that was everyone's first response when I let them in on the not-so-secret object of my affection: "the tall one, right?" or "the big guy?" My husband was six feet tall by middle school and is now around 6'4". On the complete flip side, I'm one of the tallest in my family at 5'1". I'm honestly not even sure if I deserve that extra inch, but the man at the DMV insisted I did when I was getting my ID. It was probably my hair. Regardless, I've run with it. I'll take that extra inch.
It shouldn't have been a total shock when Ethan was born at 8 pounds, 4 ounces -- at 36 weeks. He wasn't born extra long at all, but it wasn't long before he started gaining speed there. I joked that he ran out of room in there. The kid is all about running out of room: in his clothes, his socks, his shoes. It feels like every morning he's visibly bigger than the night before. My husband says this with pride and a sweet hint of nostalgia. I say this with worry. I guess out of the both of us, he's the one used to being gigantic and living to talk about it. My genes have definitely slowed down Ethan's growth a little -- he's not topping out the percentiles in height completely -- but he's still a great deal bigger, taller and broader than the other kids. He's built just like his father: little legs, long torso. My mother is so busy being relieved that I finally had a child to break our familial Short Cycle, but I have noticed there are some definite things that drive me nuts about having a bigger than average child.
Car seats. Dude, car seats. I'm pretty much always stressed out about car seats these days. Ethan is still rearfacing in his Diono Radian -- by a hair. I buckle him in each day and simultaneously freak out that he's on borrowed rearfacing time. My ideal was for him to rearface until four. That's not going to happen. So I started at least praying for him to make it until three. I'm not entirely sure that's going to happen. After already replacing our old Britax seats for Radians, my only other option is a Clek Foonf which isn't so much of an option because it doesn't fit in my car. Which means, you know, I just keep wincing as Ethan checks in at 41 pounds on the scale and noticing how his head is almost, almost at the height limit. My husband is slowly trying to prepare me for the fact he may not make it until three but I just can't process that right now.
Whenever we're out -- let's say, at a park -- and the conversation turns to our children's ages, I say that he'll be three at the end of June and I'm always met with one response: "Wow, he's big!" It's never "wow, look how nice he shares," or "wow, so is my kid, want to play some time?" It's always "wow, he's big!" Sure, there are the less offensive "he's tall for his age" or "is his dad tall?" that don't bother me. They're simple observations, much like "the sky is blue." It's the eyes popping out of the head "wow, he's big!" declarations that make me want to reply "screw you, he's awesome!" but I've been told that's not a good way to make friends.
There's also the fact that people look at him and assume he's older than he is. A few months ago now we were in the grocery store when Ethan was having an utter meltdown over the fact that half of his free cookie from the bakery tumbled to the bottom of the cart. I was trying to explain to him that I would get him another one but I had to pick up whatever I was hunting for down that specific aisle first, but he wasn't having it. A well-meaning fellow parent with her infant in a carrier said "oh, honey, you're way too old to be acting that way!" I muttered "no he's not, he's two" before shoveling off back towards the bakery. People are always having these higher expectations of him based on his size. Even at the playground, he's expected to let the smaller children have the first turns on the slide, the swing, wherever because he's "older." Only, you know, he isn't older. He's the same age, if not younger, than most of them. Other two year olds get a free pass at their irrational, tyrannical behavior because of their age and development, but he's somehow expected to bypass it all because everyone thinks he's older than he is. Too much pressure. He can scream his head off down aisle five any time he wants, because he's still two. Same goes for the eye rolls I get when he gets frightened or pushed at the park and comes crying into my arms needing a hug or reassurance. He's two, you eye rolling creeps. Back off.
His clothes fit awkwardly. A 5T in Target fits differently than a 5T at Old Navy that fits differently than a 5T in Volcom and so on, and so on. I'm always stuck trying to eyeball the sizes of those last toddler sizes versus the regular boys clothing. Sometimes his pants are too loose, or too tight, or too long, or too short because he's two but he's having to wear clothes meant for big boys. It's not a rarity for us to show up for My Gym in pants hanging off his diaper or a shirt that exposes his bellybutton when he lifts his arms up to high. This is the most annoying in between clothing stage ever, especially because he's still in diapers.
Diapers! Diapers is my next one. Ethan isn't ready to potty train yet. Though unpopular among the mom crowd, I'm of the "when he's ready, he'll be ready" potty training mindset. I don't believe children ever need to be trained, just that they'll learn when he's ready to learn. Right now, he's not ready to learn. (There's that pressure again -- the kid is still two! I assume half the people who notice he's still in diapers think he's five.) I'm cool with that. I don't mind changing diapers as long as he needs me to. My problem is, we only use 7th Generation diapers on Ethan's sensitive little tush. So what happens when he outgrows their sizes and has to be shoved into their 5T pull-ups that hold virtually nothing overnight? A mess, that's what. A chaotic mess. Er, a chaotic mess that gives my husband a heart attack when it comes time to order them because, dude, those are not cheap. (The only plus to this is it got him on my side for cloth diapering the next baby.)
On a similar note, there is medication dosing. As luck would have it, my kid is allergic to just about everything that makes Florida, well, Florida -- including ants and mosquitos. We have to travel with Benadryl. The bigger he gets, the more panicked I get when I have to administer a dose as his ankles are swelling up from some bug bite. Dosing by weight, and not age, makes me in constant fear of overdose. He's not 12, he's 2, for goodness sake. I don't want to administer Benadryl to a teenager, I just want to take the swelling away from my two year old!
My hands down greatest pet peeve -- which keeps happening more and more lately, unfortunately -- is the people who feel compelled to tell Ethan that he's fat. No, you didn't read that wrong. People think it's somehow acceptable to tell him that he's fat. I'm one more "oh, look how fat you are!" from completely (and totally) losing my cool. Some people think body image issues only apply to girls and others think that body image issues just aren't a big deal. But they are, and they do apply to boys. We don't talk about weight, we don't point out when someone (or even our cats) are fat or thin. We eat healthy, we stay active and healthy, and that's all my two year old needs to worry about. The last thing I need is a toddler who won't eat a slice of birthday cake at a birthday party because someone thinks it's funny to tell him he's fat. Here's the deal, people: if the toddler you're familiar with feels a lot lighter than my child when you lift him up, maybe it's because my kid is bigger. You know, just like how some of us adults are bigger than others, the same goes for babies. Every time we leave his doctor, I get the same report: he's perfectly proportionate, he's in a higher percentile bracket -- for height and weight -- than other kids his age, he's the picture of health, she wishes all of her other patients shared Ethan's diet and level of activity. Just as I don't poke at your kid and say "wow, you're underweight, does anyone feed you, bones?" please refrain from telling my kid he's fat. It's not funny. It's not cute. You don't sound funny. You sound like a bully. I'm one more "look how fat you are" from going off on someone with a heated lecture about verbal abuse. Don't mess with me or my hormones, thankyouverymuch.
But, you know, whether or not he'll be taller than me in five years (I feel this is highly probable) is besides the point. He may be a big boy, bigger than what the other parents on the playground are used to, but he'll know what matters is how big your heart is. And this kid's heart? It's as big as can be, perfectly, perfectly so.