“Wow he’s big!” It’s something we hear often from other people about our oldest son. He’s 8-years-old and nearly 5-feet tall, and weighs in just over 125-pounds. As a second grader he’s often mistaken for a fifth grader. We’re often asked if he will play in the NBA someday.
Our oldest son has always been big for his age – actually off the charts. As a baby he started out in the 110th percentile and has never dropped below it.
He stands well over a head taller than any other kid in his second-grade classroom. On any given day his height can be a good gift from the Lord (and genetics) for things like reaching the cereal box, and getting that toy from under the porch that no one else can reach. However, all too often my son can feel like it’s a curse and I am left mending his heart wounds and helping him to emotionally grow into his size.
Actually it’s mind-blowing the things our kid goes through merely based on his size alone. Here, let me give you a glimpse into what life has been like for our little boy in a big kid’s body. There are many unique challenges of a little boy in a big kid’s body.
1. In public places
I’ll never forget one particular instance at his pediatrician’s office. He was on my lap, drooling and playing with toys as most babies do.
We often got stares, but that day one woman kept staring at him. And not like the “oh your baby is so cute” kind of stare either. Finally she blurted out “he ain’t walking yet?” I was shocked… what? Walking? This kid wasn’t ready for walking,.. I mean, … maybe? Isn’t 8-months a little young? I was so shocked. It took me a few seconds to realize… OH… she thought he was older.
Off-hand remarks seemed to be something we’d have to get use to – and not just by beligerant adults, but by curious children too. When our son was 2-years-old we took him to a public pool. I held him in my arms and splashed in the water with him. A little boy swam near us and circled around, eyeing my son. After a few moments this boy asked “what is wrong with him? Why doesn’t he swim?” I knew what was going on and asked the child.. “how old are you? And how old do you think he is?” He replied “5… and he’s five right?”
Yes kids and adults often assume he is older than what he is and that means misconceptions mount and swirl around him. Adults hold him more accountable than other kids his age. Kids who don’t know him often wonder why he’s so weird for his (perceived) age.
Our son’s height is a challenge when making new friends. Peers of his own age group wonder why he is so big, and sometimes don’t want to play with him merely because they can’t relate to him. Or they think he is older than their own age.
Kids who are the size of my son are older and therefore wonder why he doesn’t have the same agility and mental capacity of them.
3. At school
One day when our oldest son was 7-years old he decided he didn’t want to eat his dinner. When I prodded him to talk about it he declared through hot tears “I’m a pig and I’m lazy.” My heart ached for my child. He was and is neither of those things, yet another boy from school bullied him nearly every day until he believed those words of venom were true. We had a long talk that night about how only love is the truth. Words spoken of love are true, not those spoken out of hate, anger or jealously.
But this is yet another misconception of the big kid. We always think of the tiny kids as getting bullied and overlook the kids on the other end of the spectrum. I never realized it until talking with my husband and his father who were both very large kids, that big children are big targets for bullying. The bully usually thinks “if I can take down the big kid, I can take down anyone.” Additionally, smaller-sized bullies generally slip through the radar of grown-ups. One day my son said “I wish I was smaller so the teachers would treat me like the smaller kids in my class.”
4. In Sports
Athletics pose an interesting challenge for our young son in a big kid body. For one thing, he is physically a lot stronger than other kids his age, due to his size. This means my son is constantly restraining himself from playing full-out.
For instance, at baseball practice he often doesn’t throw as hard as he does at home because he doesn’t want to hurt his friends. In dekhockey he often hangs back and doesn’t get aggressive for the puck because he is concerned he will knock other kids over.
Another issue is the sports gear. We bought him men’s baseball pants this year because the kids were too tight and short. His head required an adult helmet. I have no idea what we will do in 10-years if he continues to play.
On television and in movies the big kid is never the leading role and almost always the bully. If not the bully, then the big kid is usually the “good-hearted fat kid sidekick” who never gets the girl, is usually a bit dorky and weird. Think of famous movies like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Goonies.
6. Amusement Parks
Last year we went to the largest water park in Iowa. Lost Island was a fun 2-day getaway, but it too presented a challenge for our little boy in a big kid’s body.
Our son is just 8-years-old and the size of some small men. So he is physically tall enough for every ride in the park. However, some of them he wasn’t emotionally ready to handle. This left us as the bad guys explaining why he’d have to wait.
There was one ride we allowed him to go on and he hurt his elbow; banging it on the way down. He wasn’t mentally prepared for the safety requirements of the ride.
7. At Home
Yes there are even challenges for our son at home. He’s big, but he’s still a kid. He wants to do kid stuff like wrestle, and goof around. The only problem is that it hurts when he wrestles because he is so strong. When he lays on his bed he nearly touches the end of it already.
8. In his own body
His knees were the first part of his body to give him trouble. He was growing so fast that at the young age of six his knees began to ache. Shortly soon he began experiencing foot pain which we remedied with shoe insoles.
His back is long and tall like an adult but he has the habits of a kid so he often slouches. In most kids this is no big deal because their bodies are still small. With his body however, his upper back muscles have the risk of becoming underdeveloped as his middle back compensates to try and keep him upright.
Our little boy in a big kid’s body has been through a lot in his eight years of life. We never allow him to look at himself as different and only remind him of the good things and advantages his height allows him. He has always been such a good-natured boy and he generally takes everything in stride. As a mom, it’s always hard to see our kid go through challenges but then when we see how it has grown them on the other side, it makes it a little easier.
Despite his size, we still see our son as a little boy. We often call him our big little boy. We just want to help other people to see him that way too. And to maybe see life from a different perspective next time they see any little boy in a big kid’s body.