Even though I no longer have summers off, my life still changes when school’s out.
My life changes because there are more small children everywhere I go and this means I’m busy explaining my ‘little person’ self to them when I venture to the coffee shop or the post office or the grocery store.
Standing at their mothers’ sides, they are about the same size as I am. We have a lot in common; not being able to see over the counter, craning our necks to talk to everyone, growing impatient in long lines.
It’s usually in lines, or in aisles, that the inevitable happens.
“Mommy, look!” This is when parents generally become stiff and horrified.
There is pointing on the part of the little one and typically an attempt to swat down the raised arm of the child.
Sometimes this swat is slow and deliberate, in an effort to draw no more attention to the uncomfortable situation.
Other times it is harsh and overreactive because the situation is so uncomfortable – mostly for the parent.
This is quickly followed by a predictable question – though the exact wording varies depending on the child.
“Mommy, why are her feet so short?” I’ve yet to understand why kids seem to always confuse legs and feet.
“Mommy, why is she so fat?” The word is short, kid. Short.”
“Mommy, why is that lady in a chair?” Fair question, well worded, good segue into a conversation.
“Look, Mommy! An elf!” I was an elf in an elementary school play once, curly-toed-shoes and all. Even as an 8 year old, I knew this was hilarious.
And my personal favorite:
“Look Mommy, a LITTLE Mommy!”
Little Mommy, indeed. At a certain age, kids think all adults are mommies and daddies. Though not a parent, I am a small adult and that’s exactly where the magic lies.
Once we’ve had a quick chat about me being small, kids tend to love me. I think it’s because their brains can’t fully comprehend that I am both their size and an adult – so I get to occupy the best of both.
Spreading Fairy Dust
Nearly all of the time, I take these opportunities to talk to the kids – and hopefully relieve the parent that their child has not grossly offended me. This includes a lot of smiling on my part and usually some questions of my own.
“What’s your name, Honey?” (Don’t forget, I am a Southerner). I throw them another softball. “And how old are you? Wow. What a big girl you are.” Then I chuckle to myself at the irony of my word choice.
Basically, it’s small talk with a kid, which is typically way more fun than with a Big Mommy or Daddy.
If they ask me questions about my size, I answer. If not, I just talk to them until one of us gets called to the counter and out of the line we’ve been waiting in. I always wonder if I’ve taught the kids a lesson through our chat and if they will react differently to the next different-looking person they encounter.
Recently, I went to a lovely afternoon party for a friend. As soon as I walked in the door, there was a 6 year old in my face asking me why I was small. Immediately, I gave her my standard explanation.
“You know how some people have brown hair, like you?” She nodded.
“And you know how some people have yellow hair, like me?” She nodded again.
“And some people have green eyes, and some have brown eyes and some people are tall and some people are… short. Everybody’s different because that’s the way we were made. And we’re all cool people, we just look different.”
Then I add a leading question to finish it off, “And different is good, isn’t it? If everyone was the same it would be boring.” Invariably, the kid nods in agreement, though I doubt they know what they are agreeing to. This young lady was no exception.
At this party, it was funny because the little girl had approached me before I’d even taken off my shoes at the door and others were drifting over to say hello as well. As I gave my spiel, which I thought was just between the two of us, the whole room got quiet to listen. When I was done, there was a short pause. The parent of the little girl thanked me. Another mom in the room said she wished her daughter had heard that too.
So, a few minutes later, I met little girl #2 and gave my spiel again. This one was particularly excited to have me as a new friend, and followed me around the whole party, talking my ear off about little girl things like going to Disney world, princesses, and things she was going to do.
It was precious, if not distracting from adult conversation. At one point, her mom told her to go play with the other kids and she did, though she seemed a little confused.
About 10 minutes later, she came back. “Um, I just wanted to tell you something.”
“OK, sweetie. What’s up?”
“Um, I love you.”
“I love you too, kiddo.” And she bounded off to play with the real kids.