Thursday, August 13, 2009
Secret 22: String bean
I lived in high water pants as a child. It seemed that I grew so fast that as soon as pants were purchased they were already an inch too short and then got worse. As I finished the 4th grade I wore a size 4 shoe. I owned a pair of high heels (for play only) and they were yellow and SO cool but it wasn't meant to be as I soon couldn't put them on any more. As I started the 5th grade (only 3 short months later) I wore a size 9. I added 5 shoe sizes in 3 months. You can imagine what that did to the fit of all of my clothes as the rest of me was sprouting along as well. I spent most of that summer in a fetal position as my bones were growing faster than my muscles and skin could keep up. The doctor said it was just 'growing pains' and all we could do was wait it out (I can still remember the feeling. *shudder*). I hit 5'8" in the 5th grade and outgrew my mother and every single kid in my class. I was taller than everyone and kind of felt like a freak. In the 9th grade the school nurse measured my height at 6 feet tall. I started saying that I was 5'12" because 6 feet tall sounded like an amazon and 5 foot 12 inches is just really tall... Yes, it's technically the same thing but how you say it makes a difference, trust me. Now as an adult I'm only 5'10". The doctor explained to me that my vertebrae probably compacted a little during my pregnancies. My 3 beautiful children took 2 inches off of me. I'll consider myself lucky that my feet didn't get bigger which I've heard can happen.
Luckily, the same year that I hit 6 feet tall and right before I moved, my teacher Mr. Earl Lau pulled me aside. To give you some background, he was the social studies teacher and the wrestling coach for the junior and senior highs (remember, it was a very little school). Every day he started his classes with stories about places he went hunting or how he got heat stroke at the bottom of some valley and couldn't climb out and almost died. His quote in the yearbook was "When I was rafting down the Rogue river..." It was incredibly fascinating and we all tried to be on time to class so we wouldn't miss a word (which I think was his plan as once we were all there he could then teach to a rapt crowd). He was a very admired teacher in the school. And he pulled me aside and told me to stop slouching (and here I thought maybe no one would notice). He said to stand up straight and be proud of my height. Yes, right now I was teased, but that would end. One day I would find that the guys were just intimidated by height and it could be my asset. But in order for that to happen I had to start standing up now and be proud of it. He told me a lot of other things during that conversation that I'll never forget and will be forever indebted to him for. After that conversation I never again slouched. I stopped feeling like a freak, and "string bean" became a compliment. And I owe it to him.