Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Scrappy Is As Scrappy Does

If I asked The Husband what one word he'd use to describe me, I'd bet it wouldn't be beautiful or funny or intelligent.

Nope. It would be stubborn.

I am. For all the good and all the bad the word connotes, I am as recalcitrant as a mule.

I blame it all on my childhood (of course, doesn't everybody?) and being smaller than everyone else, even babies my own age.

I was reminded of this when Elizabeth Flora Ross, a Twitter bud of mine, tweeted about her uber-climbing 17-month old. She wanted to know when she could expect her toddler to get over this ambition to climb Mt. Everest, and I told her that I still climbed exactly like that.

And I do. When you're 4'10", you have to climb for everything. Top shelves in kitchens are useless without a ladder, and sometimes The Kiddo steals the ladder I have in the kitchen. At that point, getting supper on the table means I have to climb the way I did when back when I was six.

Back then, when I was six, I weighed 36 pounds and was 36 inches tall. I was a shrimp, but a scrappy little shrimp.

Being short gave me a sort of tenacity. I knew everything was going to be hard. I sort of expected it. My parents, for the most part, didn't coddle me. Mama expected me to pull my full weight during her many, many home-improvement projects. Complaining almost always netted me a response of, "Do what you can."

I still remember the summer morning I was helping relocate a stack of 2x4s from the back of the house to the end of the house. With a board tucked under each arm, I marched behind The Sister, wishing I could tote two boards under each arm like she could. She, however, was about 11, four years older than my 7 years, and normal-sized to boot.

I'd reached the end of the house and was struggling to lay the boards down when something else fell down instead -- my elastic-waisted shorts. There I stood, at the head of the drive, my shorts around my ankles, screaming my head off.

Everybody came running to see what snake had bitten me. I still remember the eyeroll Mama gave me. "Put down the boards and pull up your pants, for goodness' sake. And get a string to tie around your waist."

It was cool reactions like that which shaped my ya-got-it-stick-it-out approach to life. No drama. No whining (well, not any more than you can absolutely resist). Just keep on plugging. And if the unthinkable happens, just pull your pants back up.

Ah, yes. Such recalcitrance has stood me in good stead. It's one of my best-kept secret weapons.


Mia said...

LOL, your post made me smile today. I can relate. I'm 5'2 (which my older sister who is 4'11 would say I'm lucky to be that 'tall'). I'm also the youngest in my family, so yeah, I'm definitely the stubborn, feisty one. Hey, us shorties have to defend ourselves somehow ;)

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

Obviously, I can't relate to the short part. ;) But the stubbornness and tenacity? Absolutely. Darn good traits, if you ask me.

Btw, my DD was 34 inches tall at her 15 month check up. That's right, she's going to be an Amazon woman like her Mama.

Lickety Splitter said...

Stubborn has a sister named Persistence. Persistence knows the secret to life ;)

I've so average in height, but you make me feel really tall. I am 5 foot, 5.5 inches. But, I still have to get out a stool to reach the top shelves in my kitchen. If the stool is in use, I too use the child's method of climbing.

Kelly Breakey said...

What a great laugh out loud story. Your mama sounds an awful lot like my Gram, no nonsense and to the point. We were lucky to have ladies like that instill such good, practical values for us.

Patty Blount said...

Well, here I am feeling sorry for myself and you post something that not only makes me smile, it makes me laugh, nod my head and clutch my belly, too.

So true.

Thanks for a lift when I needed it most.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I heart you for using the word recalcitrant. I recently used it in a short-story and thought, "Nah, can I really use this? Is it too fancy-pants?" But if Cynthia's using it, and proudly wearing it to boot, then so can I! :)

p.s. I left it in.

p.p.s. I wish I had a pants dropping cool story to share, but I don't. :)

Cynthia Reese said...

Mia, I want those 4 inches. Gimmee. Please?

Elizabeth, you are raising either the next WNBA star or the uber-super-model. And I thought The Kiddo was a tall one -- she was 35 inches at 35 months. The old wives tale is that if you double their height at 2 years, that's what they'll be when they grow up. o_0 Nearly six feet! Yowza!

Lickety Splitter ... I see you count fractional inches, too. I would, but I come in at 4'10" even. Dadblame it. And I hear you on Stubborn's sister!

Kelly, my mama taught me so much. Would that I have said thank you a little sooner!

Patty, thank YOU for letting me know I created a belly-laugh!

Susan, comes from reading the dictionary on rainy days! Good for you for leaving it in!

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

She is freakishly tall! ;) But I am 5'10" and my hubby is 6'2". So it's no surprise. I predict DD will be 5'11", hubby predicts 6'. She's gonna be tall, there's no doubt about it.

It's incredibly awkward as a young girl, I can tell you from experience. Actually, it can be downright agonizing. I might write a book about it, for my daughter, to help her through it. It's not fun, but once you are an adult, being tall rocks!

Tawna Fenske said...

After your fabulous writing, this is my second favorite thing about you. You make ME look tall! :)


Cynthia Reese said...

Elizabeth, you've got that right. It's much more fun to be tall as an adult. But being short as a kid is no picnic, either.

And Tawna, my job in life is to make you feel like an Amazon woman!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Great story! I'm at the other end of the height issue. I was always taller than everyone. I was called bean-pole, toothpick legs and every other tall, skinny joke you can think up. The skinny part has changed, but not the height. I'm always in the back of the picture, always at the end of the line. I guess we all have our burdens to bear. ;)


Love this post. I think being called "stubborn" or "tenacious" is fantastic--because to me, success is about being stubborn and tenacious, more than anything else. I feel like the stubborn people are the ones who stick to it, stay at it, and make it work. Hooray for Tenacity! And hard work. And discipline.

Meghan Ward said...

Great story! Maybe my toddler needs a little of that tough love, so he'll stop crying every time we put him in bed.