Monday, August 09, 2004

"The Tallest Three-Year Old I've Ever Seen"

The Boy had a pediatrician appointment last week, during which the doctor pronounced him “the tallest three-year-old I’ve ever seen.” I believe him, too – The Boy is a moose. I’m not short, and neither is The Wife, but The Boy is much taller than either of us was at his age.

At one level, this is kind of cool. Certainly, he wouldn’t be growing that quickly if he weren’t basically healthy, and to the extent that his size can deter bullies, I’m all for it.

Still, I can’t help but feel a slight trepidation for the kid. Big kids are expected to be athletes, which I just wasn’t. If he gets his coordination from me, he’ll fall prey to the Jeff Goldblum syndrome.

Gender expectations die hard. If he stays as tall-for-his-age as he is now, he’ll be a conspicuously big guy by high school. With that, he won’t have the option of blending in.

I wasn’t very good at boy stuff. I was gawky, slow, introverted, and generally awkward. (I still am, but it matters a lot less now.) Between nature (my chromosomes) and nurture (my general cluelessness about guy culture), the kid could be in for a rough patch.

We’re going to sign him up for some classes at the Y, on the theory that early intervention may help. Still, and as much as I reject much of what I consider the stupid brutality of guy culture, I don’t want The Boy to go through what I went through. There’s no need to contribute another hammerhead frat boy to the world, but I know enough about adolescence to know that some protective coloration could spare a lot of pain. Let him get ironic distance on it later – first, arm him to get through it.

Kids at those ages are the shock troops of gender roles – girls who aren’t hot and boys who aren’t athletes never stop being reminded – and they aren’t shy about enforcement.

The schizophrenia of parenting hits home. Even though I reject many of the values those age groups hold, I want him to be able to hold his own on the terms I know he’ll confront. Even though I was among the least athletic kids I knew, The Boy will be counting on me to prepare him for guy culture.

Here’s hoping some double-recessive genes slipped through…