Physical traits can be determinants of lifelong status. Had I been prescient at age 6, I could have steeled myself the first time my first grade teacher said: “Line up according to height.” First was my place in line, with my fellow first-graders calling me Peanut, reminding me that I was shorter than everyone.
Being diminutive could be hazardous to my health. My legs aren’t long enough to reach the pedals, so I move the driver’s seat forward. My chin obstructing the movement of the steering wheel? I’m no engineer, but I don’t think that’s safe.
Shortness became a reason to question my parental competence. On a trip to the supermarket with my then-2-year old son, who observed life from the grocery cart, he asked: “Mommy, are you a little lady?” There’s no escaping it….I have never measured up to other adults.
If you see me in the grocery store precariously standing on the lowest shelf reaching for a jar of Skippy peanut butter, don’t think you’re offending me by helping. Grab whatever object I’m struggling to reach. Fast.
At the checkout counter I have to shout to be noticed. Cashiers look over my head, at the wall, sometimes at other customers while I stand there practically begging them to take my money.
At home, spatulas and ladles become arm extensions as I struggle to reach bowls on the top shelf. Use a step stool, you suggest? Tried it. Those things are deadly. My fingers always get caught in the hinges.
One day, I will raid my attic for a booster seat to take to the movies. Let all you tall folks know how it feels.
With a new diagnosis of osteoporosis, my former 5’2″ self may have been Amazonian. I will have to pump up my muscles, voice and attitude to survive old-er age.
Another day, another challenge. As the saying goes, aging isn’t for wimps.