Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bigger Than My Body

This song is the anthem of my life. If you don't know it or haven't heard it, go listen to it. Right now. I'll wait. Oh, it's by John Mayer--you need that information when you look it up. I will be forever grateful to a dear friend--Gita Wasan Patel (more on her in an upcoming blog to be released July 5--for realz)--for introducing me to the magic that is John Mayer. You don't have to like his public antics, but he is a fine musician and it seems like he just gets better with each new album.

Digressing much? Naw, I wouldn't know anything about that. Yeah--back to "Bigger Than My Body." The only time in my life that I haven't been considered "vertically challenged" was at birth. I was nearly two feet long then. You heard me right--a 6 lb, almost 2-foot long baby. I'm sure I looked like a skateboard or pencil or some random long and skinny object. Maybe I resembled a hot dog. That would be funny.

My birth was the beginning of the end. Like I said, it was the only time in my life I could ever be considered "tall", although I guess at birth, I actually would have been considered "long". I should ask someone about that. But according to Mayer's song, I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for. I really think that's true. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had a standard go-to answer: five-foot-five. When the person asking the question demonstrated confusion, I would simply say, "My mom is five-foot-four." That would usually induce a slight smirk or chuckle, and the question would be dropped. Here's an actual conversation that took place somewhere around middle school:

Boy: Hey, did you know you're short?

Me (feigning shock, but making it look very real): WHAAAAAAAT?!? *I actually did the shrieking part, just for good measure.*

Boy looks confused

Me: Are you kidding me?!? What do you mean I'm "short"?!? I thought I was seven feet tall! Oh, oh, this is going to break me now.

Boy (still looks confused, then remorseful): Uhhhh...

Me: Don't you know it's rude to say stuff like that? You totally deserved that.

I probably walked off in some sort of huff. It might have been overkill, and I wish I could tell you that was the only conversation like that I ever had, but it wasn't. It really used to hurt my feelings. I wanted nothing more than to be four feet in elementary school like everyone else, or five feet like everyone else in middle school. It wasn't fun to have people tower over me and remind me of how short I was each day. Middle school is hard enough without having to be reminded each day of your...ahem...shortcomings. In fact, I still ask my chiropractor every other visit if it's possible for him to lengthen my legs to 5'5". I know better, but it never hurts to ask.

I wish I had known this song back then, because I could have reminded myself each day that someday I'll fly, someday I'll soar. I don't write this blog today to feel sorry for myself or invite your pity. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Let me drift off for a minute and tell you that, at my church, I'm one of the leaders for our junior high youth group. On Wednesdays, we break into groups, so the males work with the boys, and the females work with the girls. Right now, we're using the summer as an opportunity to work on identity--specifically, identity in Christ. However, how can I help these girls learn who they are--at such a pivotal time in their lives--if I don't let them know what they are not?

For example, if you met me, would you ever come up to me and say, "Hi there, Diabetic!" No, because I have diabetes, that is not my complete identity. How about, "Hey, Big Lips!" Of course not, because while I have well-endowed lips, my lips are not the core of who I am. Catch my drift?

Here's what I am: a daughter--of God and two parents; a dog mom, a lover, not a fighter, a saucy broad when I need to be, and--hopefully--a faithful friend. There are others, but these are my favorites. I was made this way. While there are times that I have fun with my characteristics, there are times that I'm quite self-deprecating about them. When I do that, I am insulting God, my creator, and myself. I'm selling myself...short (haha--see what I did there? See? See?).

Sometimes, I'm grounded, got my wings clipped. Notice it says clipped, not broken. I think this line in the song is important, because it's a great metaphor for life. My wings are clipped when I'm down because I can't reach stuff without a step stool or chair. They're clipped when I say I'm sick of having diabetes, or tired of people asking me how old I am. To say those things never happen is a lie, and completely ridiculous. But you know what? That makes me human, and as long as I remember that someday I'll fly, someday I'll soar, that's what matters. And you don't have to be short to want to be bigger than your body.

While it would be nifty if cabinet makers would stop making cabinets for people 5'5" and above, the fact is, I am who I am--all five feet of me. In fact, the other day, I hit my head on a bunk bed. I was excited because I was too tall for something! So the next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I'm going to tell them I want to be a five-foot girl with a seven-foot heart, because that is truly bigger than my body.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Old Do You Think I Am?!?

This is me. On the left. The human, not the dog.
I'm 31. Well, I will be in 18 shopping days. Thirty-stinking-one. That is how old I am. I've heard that you're not supposed to ask a woman her age, but yet, someone asks me this question nearly every day. So there's your answer. Spread it around so I don't have to repeat myself ten times a day. 

Today's blog post is inspired by an experience I had at the doctor's office yesterday. Here's how the conversation went down:

Doctor (trying to make conversation): So are you in school?

Me (because I can honestly say this and didn't see where this was driving): No, I'm off for the summer. 

Doctor stares at me

Me: I'm a school nurse.

Doctor: So you have a job? 

Me: Well...yeah. That's how most of my bills get paid. 

Doctor (clearly taken aback, as evidenced by the wince that followed my sentence): Um, um, where are you a nurse? No backpeddling whatsoever. 

I answered the obligatory questions, and then this happened: 

Doctor: So, um, how old are you? 

Me: Well, old enough that I drove myself here this morning. Why not have some fun with this? 

Doctor: Oh. Does your mom know you're here? 

Me: I don't know. She lives five-and-a-half-hours away and the car I came in is registered in my name. 

Doctor: I thought you were about 16. Does anyone ever ask you how old you are? 

Me: Only every day of my life. 

And this is how it pretty much goes about once every day. After that fun exchange, I thought back to some of the highlights of my long and arduous career (ha), and thought I would share them with you. Perhaps you'll even have one or two to add. I'll try to be chronological, but as I get a different guess every day, that may not be entirely possible. 

The first one that I'll touch on occurred when I went to get my schedule and locker for the beginning of junior high. I was standing in the line looking rather expectant. 

Teacher: Hi there, Sweetie! Are you excited about school starting this year? 

Me: Oh yes (again, not seeing where this was going)! 

Teacher: Do you know who your teacher is yet? 

Me: No, that's why I'm here. 

Teacher (looking puzzled): I'm sorry? 

Me: I don't know who my teachers are yet. That's why I'm here. To get my schedule. I'm going into 6th grade. 

Teacher (now beet red): Oh, I'm so sorry, I thought you were in third grade. Now fumbling furiously through papers, even though she still hasn't asked my name, so she has no idea who she's looking for. 

As funny as that is now, I remember being really sad at the time, because there was nothing I could do about the fact that I was barely four feet tall. I couldn't add wrinkles. I guess if I wanted to, I could put powder in my hair for grays, but did I really want to? And really, that's awfully hard to keep up with every day of school. But my bubble was burst. I was so excited about junior high, and now I was being told that I didn't look like I even belonged? Pffft. 

Here's another one. This one takes place in high school. Before I get too far, I need to set this one up. At the time, our high school was basically one long hallway that crossed over into one of the elementary schools. I was a junior and a member of PALs (Peer Assistance and Leadership). One of our "jobs" was to work with various elementary and junior high kids on various issues such as homework, or problems at home. We were PALs to kids who just needed someone. I was over in the aforementioned elementary school one day, walking with one of my kiddos (a fifth-grader)  when a teacher stopped us. 

Teacher: Where's your hall pass? 

I thought she was talking to the kid, but she was glaring at me. 

Me: She's with me. 

Teacher: I don't care, where's your hall pass? 

I showed her the hall pass hanging around my neck, but she still wasn't satisfied. 

Teacher: Who's your teacher?? Again, staring at me. 

Me: Um, which one? 

Teacher: Don't get smart with me.  I'll ask you again: Who's your teacher?

Me: Which one? I have seven. 

Now the teacher looked confused. 

Me: I'm from the high school. 

I watched in hidden glee as the teacher's face went white. Her mouth opened and closed several times before she finally managed a quick "I'm sorry" before she rushed along. Hmph! 

I should probably also tell you here that the fifth-grader in this tale of woe was about three or four inches taller than me. Yeah. Good times. 

This last one takes place about four or five years ago. That would make me about...26 or 27. Very good! Now imagine me about four or five years ago (reference the above picture if you need to). There's really not much difference in the way I look today and the way I looked then. For this one, I was at my mom's gym playing on my Blackberry while I was waiting for my mom to get done. Did I mention I was 26 or 27? Read on...

Gym Volunteer: Hello, are you Betty's daughter? 

Me: Yes, is everything ok? 

GV: Oh yes, I've just heard a lot about you and she told me you were here, so I wanted to meet you. 

Me: Ohhh! Well, very nice to meet you! 

At this point, my mom had walked up and joined us. The two exchanged pleasantries before my mom said, "Oh I see you've met my daughter." 

GV: Yes. How old are you dear? 

Me: (Insert whichever age you chose between 26 or 27 and insert that answer here. That will be what I said.)

GV (looking quite surprised): Oh, I thought you were about ten years old. 

Me: *Crickets* (now I was looking quite surprised). I was actually rendered speechless. 

Apparently, in all the things she told this kind lady about me, my mom forgot to mention one tiny little detail: my age. Ten? Really--ten? TEN YEARS OLD?!? Come on! I'm holding keys, a Blackberry, and it was obvious I had already hit puberty! TEEEEEEENNNN? Clearly, I'm still not over this. 

Now, you might be thinking, or will probably say to me, "You're going to appreciate that when you're older." I totally see the point. However, I didn't appreciate it at ten (when people thought I was six). When I was 11 (the age of the above junior high episode), which is older than ten, I didn't appreciate it. At 16, when I was older than 11, I didn't appreciate it. At 26 or 27, which is older than 16, I didn't appreciate it. And now, at 31, while I'm starting to appreciate it, there is one thing about it that I don't appreciate: if I want to date anyone, the only guys who would be interested are in junior high--which is gross and NOT LEGAL. So much for appreciation. I tell people I get carded at the toy store--which has been the case every single time I bought something that you had to be older than 17 to buy (don't worry I haven't done that recently. Swear!). 

There are a couple of good things about all of this that I would be stupid to overlook. One of them is that I've amassed a collection of stuffed toys and trinkets from fooling those people at amusement parks who guess your age. Oh, and I can still get a student ticket to pretty much anything. Otherwise, I'm just your average looking 31-year-old stuck in a ten-year-old's body. 

Yes, I am 31 (or will be in 18 more shopping days). And I will remain 31 for the next 365 days after July 2, until I turn 32. It should go pretty chronologically from there. So there, now you know how old I am. Spread the word.