When I was a child I had a real hang-up about being under tall, or as most call it, short. I spent much of my eleventh year of life at the doctors running tests that would explain why I was so freaking short. I hated being short. No, I mean that I really, truly hated it. At eleven, being the shortest girl in the class felt like the equivalent of having red frizzy hair with zits. In seventh grade, I looked like I belonged in fourth grade. Many girls had boobies and I had braces, and was not even close to having a period. That did not arrive until I was in High school. Yes, I said high school, as in the last week of my freshman year. I was probably the only girl that prayed for her period to start.
I often contemplated, “What does it feel like to HAVE to wear a bra?” I stuffed mine at my eighth grade graduation. I was caught with the Kleenex poking out and have never been so humiliated. It was Aurora, my nearly six foot tall cousin, who let me know that she could see that I “stuffed”. I would have attempted slapping her, but my undersized arms would have never reached her face. My parents tried to shrink my complex that was the only thing growing on me. They were constantly reminding me that “good things come in small packages”. Well, I wanted a bigger package. They really did try to encourage me to accept and love my size, but I was getting mixed messages about looks everywhere I looked. I felt desperate to grow to a higher elevation, or just be able to stand next to the other girls at school and not be boob level, reminding me that I was flat as a board.
After much testing in my eleventh year the kind doctor broke the news gently. I was genetically short, and aside from taking hormone shots to squeeze every millimeter out of me, I was destined to end up like my great old Aunt Frances who, at full adult height was 4 feet, 10 inches, eating ham sandwiches and drinking beer every day. She was sterile too, which freaked me out, because I knew I eventually wanted kids. The prognosis felt grim, but I had to accept it. As the current hit song “Short People” was playing in the back of my mind, telling me that “I had no reason to live because I stand so low, people have to pick me up just to say hello”, a pleasant thought crept into my little mind. I started considering how much I loved Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. I never missed a Monday night episode of Little House on the Prairie, and I clicked my eleven year old heels with delight when reruns came on at 4:00, after school. You might remember that Laura Ingalls was the middle daughter, and was sort of on the small side and her “Pa” nick-named her Half-pint. Half-pint was a different sort of nick-name, much better than shrimp, small fry and midget. I liked that tag. Laura was an upstanding eleven year old, who was honest, real and well-liked by all. The idea to emulate Laura and be just like her sounded like a good plan. Since it looked like there was no other option from me, from that day on, I tried to channel my inner Laura Ingalls and make the best of what little I had to work with.