I received the devastating news at my daughter’s two-year well-child visit.
“She’s 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. “Wait a second. Does 75th percentile today mean the same as 95th percentile decades ago?”
The pediatrician gave me a look that said, “What on earth are you talking about?” What came out of her mouth, though, was “Pardon?”
I adjusted my size-10 Long jeans with a 34″ inseam—the ones that Eddie Bauer had charged me an extra ten dollars for because they were a Tall size.
“I mean, because of advancements in our nutrition and stuff,” I explained. “The 75th percentile for height today must be the same as the 95th percentile when I was a kid, right?”
“No,” said the doctor. “She’s in the 75th percentile. She should grow to be about 5’7″ tall.”
Shocked, I fell off my chair. At my height, that was long way to go.
Listen, I realize that 5’11” is not Shaquille O’Neal tall. However, growing up as the tallest kid in school until 7th grade, and growing up as the tallest girl in school until always, made 5’11” feel gigantic.
I lay on the floor at the doctor’s office in a tangled web of long limbs. My daughter was going to be 5’7″? That was—normal. A bit above normal, but not freakishly tall like me.
How could I be this child’s mother? I had mentally prepared for a freakishly tall daughter. I felt I could relate to a freakishly tall daughter. There was a whole list of moments I’d thought I’d share with my freakishly tall daughter:
- Standing in the middle of the last row of risers for every class picture from kindergarten through 7th grade;
- Being invited to slow dance in middle school because the boys knew their faces would smoosh against my chest;
- Sitting on airplanes with my chin resting on my kneecaps;
- Never getting to buy pants off the rack because they were always too short, and high-waters were only cool for six months sometime during the 80s;
- Having strangers ask if I’d played basketball in college. No? What about volleyball?
Yes, these defining moments were ones I’d thought I would share with my daughter—times when we could bond over our height as we shopped for pants with long inseams.
As I untwisted my lengthy appendages and rose from the floor of the doctor’s office, I barely heard what the pediatrician said next:
“Your daughter’s head circumference is in the 95th percentile,” she stated.
Oh? My spirits lifted.
“She’s got a big head just like her mama!” I proclaimed.
I got this.
This original piece by was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured image © choreograph via depositphotos.com.