As parents, we can’t help but obsess: When will my kid grow? How tall will my child be? Why are we so ridiculously fixated on our kids’ height?
I remember feeling absolutely murderous at the kid (I’ll call him Danny) who was the first in my oldest son’s seventh grade glass to sprout up. The rest of us stood in wonderment staring at him for the entire football season waiting for our kids to sprout. And waiting.
In retrospect, it’s pretty funny. We parents will spend so much time over the next few years talking about it: Whose kid is growing first/fastest/tallest? When will my child grow?
And of course, we have absolutely no control over it. But competitive growing is a prime parental pastime for much of the middle and high school years. In fact, we can sort parents into categories that a reveal way more than how they feel about their tween or teen’s stature.
Competitive Parents on Teen Growth
1. The short mom
Petite, elfin, diminutive—she’s heard them all, and they all mean “short.” She has never been tall, and has no expectations that her offspring will be either. Practical and blunt, this mom made up for lack of stature by becoming a dynamo packed full of personality and willpower. She knows that her kids will, too.
Warning: Do not make the mistake–EVER—of commenting on how tiny her kid is. She can say it, but you can’t.
Every now and again, Nature surprises this little dynamo mom with a 6’5 tight end, and her joy and pride is so infectious you can’t help but share in it.
2. The early bloomer mom
She is the envy of all. Her son is the first to sprout up the summer before seventh grade. He is taller than both his parents almost overnight. This kid shows up to August football practice with a wispy mustache and chest chair. He looks like a man compared to your downy-cheeked, baby-faced cherub.
Or her daughter is the first to develop and suddenly, she looks so pretty and grownup. She is the very first to wear a bra. This mom tells everyone (to her daughter’s horror) that her girl got her period early “just like I did.”
This mother’s pride is palpable. You can see her visibly swell with every “Wow, did he shoot up!” Somehow her child’s stunning growth is a reflection of good parenting. Enjoy your time in the sun, Early Bloomer Mom, because all those other kids are gonna catch up eventually and pass yours. Happens every time. (But we don’t want to ruin this for her).
3. The late bloomer mom
This mom’s son is the last kid to grow. She is in agony and would willingly donate part of her own pituitary gland to help her son finally get that burst of HGH. It’s the first thing she brings up in conversation at sports practice or spring music night, and you’ll hear all about her brother or her uncle who grew late but turned out to be 6’3.
Hang in there, Mom. We are all rooting for you and your kid.
4. The “This Is a Competition” dad/mom
This person eyes your kid up and down every time they see them. They will keep track of what size shoe your daughter wears, or how tall each of your respective kids were at the start of the previous school year. They will give backhanded compliments about your child “finally losing their baby fat.” Height is a race that they are determined to win.
Competitive Dad is sure that if his son is the tallest boy in eighth grade, he will be sure to get a NCAA scholarship to a Division I college, and then the NFL.
5. The practical mom
She is the only person who doesn’t seem personally invested in her kid’s height. She is either interested in other qualities, or has a ton of kids, or is grounded enough to decide not to spend useless energy worrying because she has no control over the outcome. This is a great mom friend to have, especially if you are anxious, because she provides a welcome dose of sanity after you’ve been exposed to competitive parents.
Definitely hang out with this mom on the sidelines at junior high football games or before standardized testing days—she will reassure you that those things don’t really matter in the long run, either.