Now that I have captured your attention with a blog post title that seemingly has absolutely nothing to do with being a mom or raising a child with dwarfism…let me continue.
When I was pregnant with Asher – and we knew that he more than likely was going to have a form of skeletal dysplasia – my younger brother said something to me that really stuck with me. Being true to my brother’s form, he started out with some witty commentary on the extreme importance of height and brute strength – during the long gone days of the cavemen or the vikings. And it got me thinking long and hard about why it is that as a society, many people still view tall as being a good thing, and short as being a bad thing. People literally get excited when they go to their child’s 9 month well check and find out their baby is in the 95th percentile for height. And they literally get sad when they find out their baby is in the 25th percentile for height. *GASP* the horror….
And while I may have my utterly ‘basic’ moments, I am actually using the word ‘literally’ correct in this scenario. I have had to witness many moms on various pregnancy/early childhood apps post threads commenting on how they are upset that their child baby is not very tall, "because tall is good!", or because they "don’t want their child to be a shorty, and get picked on". Sadly – these are true quotes.
This is where I facepalm so hard I leave a mark on my forehead – and I wish that Amazon sold a healthy dose of perspective, or even a side dish of a reality check.
Now – I may facepalm, but I don’t judge these moms. To them, this is truly the worst thing that they have encountered with their child. And all moms want what they view as being ‘the best’ for their little angels. Our society is what has led these people to honestly believe that height is actually important, in some form or fashion. So what I do, is sit back and laugh at my brother’s caveman joke from months ago- which in reality was a very accurate insight into human evolution, and what is truly important for success in this day and age. And I can only hope that these moms all work to instill a different perspective in their children – and work to eliminate this subconscious bias (or in many cases, entirely conscious bias) towards tall people.
So I have often thought about the real world benefits of being tall. And here is what I have come up with:
Advantageous traits in life that have nothing to do with height:
Strong work ethic.
Compassion for others.
Advantages in life that are a result of being tall:
You can reach things on a high shelf, and gas pedals in a car.
So, while Amazon may not sell perspective, or a reality check, or anything else on that long list of advantages not related to height, they DO sell a very wide selection of benches, stools, ladders, chairs and pedal extenders. And while I am not naive enough to think that buying a stool will make a person with dwarfism’s life equal to, or even remotely as simple as that of a person of average height (the world, after all, is designed for people of average height) – I can take a lot of joy in knowing that who a person is, down to the core, is not determined by their height, by a growth disorder they may have, or even a motor neuron disease they may have.
So if you have made it this far, you may still be wondering where Stephen Hawking fits into this. Or maybe you have figured it out by now – it’s not that complex.
Stephen Hawking is widely accepted as one of the most brilliant men to have ever lived. He was innovative, he was determined, he was a genius, he was respected, he was funny, he was treasured, and he was IMPORTANT. You know what he wasn’t? Tall.
Or maybe he was – but the important thing is, no one cares. His height had absolutely nothing to do with his accomplishments. He had physical limitations that we can sit back and only imagine how difficult they were – but he did not let it stop him. He did not give up, when many would have. He found a way around them, and he inspired the world.
So last night, as I was walking up the stairs with Asher to put him to bed, I made the same singsong reference I often make. "How tall is Bill Gates? No one knows! How tall was Albert Einstein? Who can tell? How tall is Stephen Hawking? Who cares!" And it saddens me that I will have to start using the past tense. But it will forever lighten my spirits to remember a man who truly defied all odds and served as an inspiration to millions. And I hope his memory will continue to serve as an inspiration to Asher, as well as any other children out there, that you should never let anything, especially something like your height, hold you back or limit your capability of becoming truly legendary.