Sunday, September 21, 2014

Too Tall?

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Mom, am I too tall?” Tess Williams asked her mother as they finished washing and drying the dinner dishes.

“Why do you ask?”

“I’m the tallest girl in seventh grade, and I’m taller than almost all the boys, too.”

“When I was your age, I too was the tallest girl in class. Does being tall bother you?”

“A little. Sometimes I get kidded about it, nothing terrible, but it makes me feel funny.”

“When you get older, you’ll find that being taller than average is better that being shorter, even for a girl.”


“Most sports favor the taller players, though not always. At work, you will find that you are taken more seriously, listened to with more respect. Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way, but often it is.”

“Do boys date girls who are taller than they are?”

“Some don’t, but your father did. When he was in high school he had a crush on a girl who was an inch or two taller than he was, and they dated. It happens.”

“What was her name?”

“I’ll tell you that story another day. Her family was in a bad car accident, and their lives were never the same. Being tall had nothing to do with it, by the way. There are many more important things in life.”

“Is there anything I can do about being so tall?”

“Not really. You may choose not to wear high-heeled shoes, and some clothes will make you look less tall, but you should stand up straight and be proud of yourself, rather than slump and hide your height.”

“What about the kids who make jokes about my height?”

“Unless they are really mean, you can laugh along with them. They may be jealous, in fact. When you are grown up, you will do well and have the last laugh.”

Mr. Williams had been listening in. “It’s true that I really liked a very tall girl in high school. People have different tastes, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ is an old saying with a lot of truth to it. Anyway, it is a mistake to make a big deal out of how people look.”

“You can’t tell a book by its cover,” Mrs. W. added, always quick with an old saying herself. Then she quoted another, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

“Tall is tall,” said Tess, with feeling.

“And small is small,” was Tim’s comment. He was a bit shorter than most of the kids in his fourth-grade class. He hoped to grow much taller.

“You’ll grow. You’ll grow!” his dad said, while thinking:
It is hard on boys to be short, but many short men have had happy lives.
Sometimes, they may have had to work harder to succeed, but they did well.
Rick is average height, and Tim will most likely be that tall, at least.
Time will tell.

Mrs. Williams had the final say. “We are told to improve what we can improve, accept what we cannot change, and learn the difference between them. You each will be as tall as you will be, and Dad and I will love you no matter how tall you are.” Then she put the last few dried dishes on the very top shelf…without even standing on her tiptoes.


One of our series of 50 instructional short stories for  young readers.

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