Evidently Size Does Matter

Is it just me, or are people kind of obsessed with the size of babies and toddlers? I feel like every time someone asks me how old one of my kids is, the next thing out of their mouth is, Whoa. (S)He is big!

Now with my daughter, it is true. She is big, or more accurately, she is tall. She has always worn clothes a whole size bigger than her age. Right now she is in all 4Ts and can wear a fair amount of 5T stuff as well. The girl is tall. She takes after her father (he’s 6’4″) and her height makes her look a good deal older than she actually is.

I guess, with a daughter who really does look taller than one would expect, given her age, I didn’t really think that much about all the comments. People said she looked big because she did, in fact, look big.

Then people started saying the same thing about my son. He is not big. He is average. In fact, he falls into the 50th percentiles for both height and weight. When it comes to external measurements, the kid could not be more average. And yet people are always commenting on how big he looks. My mother-in-law said something about it the other day and I couldn’t help myself, and corrected her, saying that he was actually not big at all, but right where he was supposed to be. She seemed a bit annoyed by that comment.

What is is about people and wanting their kids (or other people’s kids) to be big? Why do we obsess about percentiles? As long as your kid is healthy, who cares how many babies, in a random sampling of 100, are bigger or smaller than he? Why do we brag about how big our babies were when they were born? (And yes, I’m guilty of this myself, or at least I was with my daughter.) What is the big deal?

When I told my in-laws that Monito was in the 50th percentile for height and weight they were visibly disappointed. My MIL kind of refused to believe it. Really? You think they made a mistake? I’m pretty sure their measurements are accurate. And I’m pretty sure they were entered correctly into the computer. And I’m pretty sure said computer completed whatever complicated (or not) algorithm it completes to determine what percentage of babies, on average, are bigger or smaller than mine. And I’m pretty sure those percentages were communicated to me without error. So yeah, I’m pretty sure that there are about as many baby boys his age that are both bigger and smaller than he is. He is, as far as size is concerned, completely average.

And that is okay. That is great actually. I don’t want him to be big. He is my last baby. I want to revel in the smallness of him. I want to cuddle him and dress him in tiny baby clothes and be able to rest the sack-of-flour weight of him against my chest and in my arms for many months to come. I don’t want him to grow out of his clothes before he’s supposed to (that happens quickly enough when wearing cloth diapers). I LIKE that is average sized. He’s following his growth curve; he’s clear he’s thriving. Why does being in the 50th percentile have to be a disappointment?

Why does everyone want to tell me how big he is when he’s not, in fact, big at all?

I don’t know. The whole thing is just so weird to me. I don’t get people’s interest–heck, their obsession–with the sizes of my kids (and I’m assuming other people’s kids–this can’t just be happening to me). Is it just that size is a very obvious quality, one that can be remarked upon without knowing anything else about you? Is it a lazy, but effective, way to interact with a stranger? Maybe. But that doesn’t explain my in-laws weirdness, or friends who mention size and weight every time I see them. Maybe it’s just easy to talk about it, easy to remark upon, easy to make conversation about.

Whatever the reason, I wish we could think of some other topic to chat about, because when it comes to size, my son is entirely unremarkable.

Do people comment on the size of your kid(s)? Does it bother you at all?

16 responses

  1. You know, ppl ALWAYS comment on the size of my kids, but they’ve both always been in ridiculous high %iles (like 95%) so like Isa, they ARE big, and I just smile and nod and go with it. That being said, I have a close IRL friend and a cpl blog friends whose kids are in the very bottom %iles, and I know it has worried and/or bothered them from time to time, so I try not to comment on it. However, my friend had a good point that America is obsessed with “bigger is better” – even with baby’s/toddler’s weights – though of course there’s a point where suddenly smaller is “better” in ppl’s eyes. But really, if we’re not concerned about the size of a 95%ile kid being healthy, why are we concerned about a 5%ile kid? As long as both are following their curves, both of those numbers just reflect arbitrary numbers on a stupid graph.

  2. Drives me mental!!! Molly was 3rd percentile at one stage and all I heard was gee she’s small now she’s perfectly average 50th percentile and people call her chubs! I mean I love her chunky thighs but I’m allowed to!

  3. It’s so funny because with me it’s the opposite – Bunny is TINY. She’s only in the 10th percentile, and even though she’s 5.5 months I only transitioned her to 3-6 clothes about two weeks ago. We’ve been showing the house and people keep on guessing that’s she’s 3 months old, then marvelling at how tiny she is. For me it’s actually a point of pride. With GD the biggest risk is a big baby, so the fact she was born small means I did a decent job of growing her. Shmerson and I are both relatively petite so I’m not bothered…
    For me as long as she doesn’t drop a percentile and keeps gaining weight I’m happy.
    I don’t get the pride thing about “being big” either. They just need to be the size they are, you know?

  4. My mother is obsessed – OBSESSED – with the sizes of children. But she prefers them to be smaller, “tiny.”. My niece truly almost died, and the condition stunted her growth because it happened right after she turned one – prime growing time. She struggled to eat, gain weight, etc. for years and still does now because she has severe celiac disease. As she was failing to thrive as a 1 year old, my mom reveled in her tininess. She could not fail to mention it every time we spoke. She would say, “I know they need her to gain weight, but I hope she stays this tiny.”. Sick. Sick. Sick. Today, that niece is almost 10 and the doctors are certain she won’t reach 5 feet tall and are concerned she’ll never be able to have kids, and my mom STILL glows when she talks about her weight and how tiny she is. And what’s sad is that she looks sick. She looks anorexic. My mom says she prefers that skinny look. She’s obsessed.

    I have big kids. Matthew is tall. Bryson is even in higher percentiles for height that Matthew was. People are always telling me how tall and big Matthew is. And Bryson… Well… He’s a chub! I got so tired of the comments that I lead off with it when people ask how old he is. I say, “x months, but he’s a big boy so looks much older.”.

    People are obsessed in both directions, big or small. It drives me nuts.

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  5. I’m sensitive to this, though not nearly as much as I was. My older son is, and always has been, 5th percentile and I’m so tired and SO OVER being told “he’s so tiny!” or “small for his age” especially when he’s standing right there. He’s fine. He’s normal. He’s perfect. My second son is bigger than HGB at the same age, but is “only” 15th…also fine, normal, perfect. Took me a while not to worry (but there were/are also eating issues) but A BIG part of that was hearing how “big” other kids are the same age are. As long as they don’t dramatically deviate from their curve, they are fine, normal, perfect.

  6. I think the size thing goes both ways. My 10 month old wears size 2T sometimes and everyone comments how big he is. But he was a little baby when he was born and again – the comments came. I think it’s probably because its one of the few comments you can make about a baby without crossing a line (like, “ooh, his nose is kinda funny looking!” Or “wow, he’s so bald!”… ).

  7. It irritates me to no end that we obsess about child size (and for that matter how they eat or don’t eat). Every meal with my mother and my not-so-eating 5 year old feels like my mom is trying to make my kid worry about her eating, as if guilting a kid is going to convince them to eat when they aren’t hungry or get a kid to stop eating when they are! GAH. My older one has been about the 25th percentile and is long and narrow so EVERYONE feels the need to mention how tiny she is. Hmm. Or maybe we could just stop with the weight/size obsessing and enjoy that she is healthy and growing, even if I have no idea how she managed it with how little she eats? I found it the most interesting in discussions of kindergarten readiness among boys around here. If the boy isn’t very big, he often gets “red shirted” to start when he’s 6 if he has a spring/summer birthday (our cut-off date is September 1). I don’t get that and it bothers me that smaller boys do seem to succeed less in elementary school.

  8. I make it a point to correct people who tell me my girls are “big”. I know what they mean to say, is that they’re both tall for their age range. So, when I say, “tall”…they automatically say, well yes that’s what I meant. Pfft. I try to shrug it off but it still annoys the crap out of me.

  9. My daughter is tall and was chunky as a baby and toddler, but now she has more of a muscular body. People make comments, in front of her, all the time. From saying how big she is to accusing us of lying about her age to get her into a lower age division for soccer. People can be so rude. One lady asked me if we fed her lots of sweets and let her drink soda. Um…no, but thanks for asking if we’re the worst parents ever!

    Like another commenter said, the fact that they say it in front of the child is the really annoying part. They’re young, but they ‘re not deaf.

  10. I guess when my preemie was born, I was so pleased to hear that he looked big! He was 6 lbs to start, so not tiny, but bigger in that realm means healthier. It does seem inappropriate at the age when they can hear and understand. (Now, my other son is noticeably tall for his age and people comment on that too, somewhat understandably since my husband and I are not tall.)

  11. My boys are both totally average so I guess we don’t get those comments much, but I would find them annoying as all hell, especially around older kids THAT ARE LISTENING. Though I absolutely cannot help myself remarking on adorable baby chunk, I would never say a 2+ year old was “big” or even “small”. Maybe “tall” if they were exceptionally tall (and that’s only because tall is uniformly considered a positive attribute in our culture).

  12. Ugh. I have all sorts of thoughts about this. I have some pretty big kids. It makes me sad and it’s a pain in the butt that the grow so fast – 2.5 yo boy wears 4T and my 4 month old girl is in 9 month clothes.It sucks that my 2.5 yo is bigger than his cousin who is 1 yr 1 month older than him so we can’t get any hand me downs. I still get asked how big Kate was when she was born then shocked freak-of-nature looks when I say she was 11.5 lbs. Yes, she was huge. It weirds me out that she was so big, but there was no GD involved. I just apparently grow big babies. If L had been allowed to go as long as he wanted I am sure he would have been over 10 lbs, but he was still big at 9#5oz.

    Obviously, people comment. I don’t know. I am so used to hearing them at this point it doesn’t bug me. But I expect at some point to get annoyed especially with the comments for K. She’s bound to be a tall, large boned girl. I am. I think the best I can do is prep her for that and try to build her self esteem It worries me more when she hits that 6 yo & beyond and especially awkward middle school age when no one is comfortable with their bodies.

    our kids become whoever they’re going to be. We should just help them be that and try to teach them good eating habits and confidence in their own skin. We shouldn’t make them feel like freak shows for being at either end of the spectrum. As long as they are thriving and on their growth curve, they’re doing great. People are obsessed. I obsess about it a bit, just to be sure K is growing as she should since I BF exclusively, I have no idea how much she’s taking in. I have LCs telling me I should have problems with supply due to my IF and hypothyroidism so I have a lot of doubt that the bod knows what it’s doing but in this case it seems to.

    I try to stick with pretty generic comments about other people’s babies. “She looks so good! So happy!” if I want to say something. These are my favorite comments. I love that my grandma usually just says “they both look so great, hun!” (I have lots of other problems with what my gma usually says, but she seems to be right on target when it comes to kids and babies. TO me she will say “gaining a little weight huh? or ” you cut your hair all off, it looks terrible!” LOL>)

    Anyway, your little man is so stinking adorable and looks healthy and thriving. He looks great, mama!

  13. We are guilty of it ourselves because Baby X is blowing the growth curve in a big way. So I guess we are guilty of it too! But, why do they care that Monito is average height? It’s not like he or you have any control over that!

  14. Yes! It absolutely drives me nuts. Miss E is in the 50%ile for height but everyone has to weigh in (ha unintentional pun) on HOW TALL she is. Nope, she’s perfectly average and I’m perfectly fine with that! (or more than fine, since she had markers for malnourishment when she arrived!)

  15. My MIL compares my boys to my two nephews constantly, as well as my SIL and I’s parenting styles. It drives me bonkers. I hate it. I hate getting advice based on what my SIL does with her kids. WHO CARES?! Also, I get tired of people talking about size with my boys too. They aren’t big, or chunky. They are healthy. Leave the kids alone!!!!!!!

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