My younger son’s soccer team won a tournament this weekend and someone sent me a congratulatory email that read: “It shows that size really isn’t as important as determination and hard work…”
I didn’t get it. Why does size matter?
Yes, my son is vertically challenged. He is the by-product of a 5’2” mom and a 5’8” dad so that’s not too much of a surprise, but he wasn’t trying out for the NBA or even shooting for Olympic Gold in the high jump. Now that would be a feat for someone on the less tall side. Then, I suppose, height would be a relevant talking point.
But soccer? Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona is considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time and he’s only 5’7”. (His teammates, Andres Iniesta and Xavi are only 5’6”!) Messi is skilled, fast, and determined because he wants to win not because he’s shorter than the average European soccer player.
My youngest has always been determined. “Me do it!” was his mantra even when he was two-years-old and didn’t realize that he was only in the 5th percentile for height. He was simply born with that “can do” attitude.
It’s funny though, how some people—usually the freakishly large—view short stature as a negative, something that needs to be overcome. Sure, there are studies that show that people who are shorter than average are paid less than their taller counterparts, but women and African-Americans are also paid less than their counterparts. Those statistics are far more telling of who is in charge of the money than they are of anything of importance about someone short or African-American or female.
To me—all five-foot-two-inches of me—being short doesn’t mean you have a Napoleon complex. It just means you’re short.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe being teased about his height has helped my son become a little feistier. My sassy center may have been shaped by way too many short jokes (although I think it had more to do with being the youngest in the family and being picked on by my older brother).
Perhaps my younger son’s spirited side is due to my constant yelling and screaming…at his older brother. My oldest doesn’t respond to my shrieking but motivating my youngest may be a happy by-product! (I’m shameless when it comes to justifying my bad behavior).
I, of course, would rather attribute my younger son’s drive to a higher purpose: a fight for those who have been wronged. I’ve noticed that he gets most fired up in a soccer match when a teammate gets a raw deal, a ref makes a bad call or when an opposing player pushes him around. During his last game, he became more aggressive after two opposing players drove him into the ground. (Both players were his height, in case you were thinking that he was trying to prove a point.)
To get to the bottom of this I decided to simply ask my son if his height makes him work harder at soccer. (We try to avoid talking about his height because we don’t want him to think that we think he’s short).
“Of course!” he responded, without hesitation.
That just goes to show you…
I know nothing about my children.