Life Lessons From the Shortest Kid in Class

Let’s take a moment away from waiting for that “growth spurt” everyone keeps talking about, and complete a critical thinking exercise about what can be learned by being the shortest kid in class.

1. Being short – especially short and skinny – makes it easy for other kids to think you’re weak. Mean kids, will try to exploit this. Oh, woe is the day teacher announces a friendly game of dodge ball…or worse…red rover! You know exactly what this means….red rubber balls getting chucked violently at your head, and the biggest kid in class charging straight for your sweaty, shaky little hand-hold. Because you’re little, other kids pinpoint you as an easy target, and assume you’ll be an easy “out”. These bullies don’t see you as a challenge, but won’t they be surprised when you jump and dodge your way to the winners circle.

Life lesson - you will be underestimated because of your size, and bullies will try to shove past you, whether professionally, or even in line at the grocery store, because they don’t think you’ll put up a fight. Stand your ground, don’t be a push-over, and you can achieve great things.

2. It’s easy to hide in a crowd…just make sure you can be seen when you want to. Congratulations, you snagged that awesome seat right behind Johnny Bigglesworth, the biggest kid in class, which means when you see teacher’s eyes scanning the room to pick a victim, your short stature makes it easier to hide from view. While this can be an asset when you forgot to do your reading the night before, it can be really frustrating when you know you got that math problem figured out, but teacher doesn’t see your hand raised, failing to show your shining genius to the rest of the class.

Life lesson - it’s easy to get lost in a crowd when you’re small, but hiding behind bigger people is no way to live. You may have to work a little harder to get noticed – laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger, sit a little straighter, (or my favorite trick, stand on foot rests of bar stools so that bartender will see you) – but a short kid’s gotta do what a short kid’s gotta do!

3. If you can’t do as the big kids do…get creative! Let’s face it, there’s just some stuff you’re not going to be very good at. Like reaching high shelves, or probably basketball. But I bet you’ll be great at fashioning makeshift stools and reaching devices, like a petite MacGyver. Or you’ll invent an amazing new underhanded shooting strategy that catapults you to be the queen of H-O-R-S-E. See…you can do it too…just differently!

Life lesson - you’ll probably never outgrow the need for step stools (or really tall romantic partners) to reach those high shelves. And you’ll probably never realize your dreams of being on the Olympic women’s basketball team. But you can be a “think out of the box” type of person thanks to your need to be creative. Is that Mac ‘n Cheese just a tad out of reach at the grocery store? No problem! This package of whole grain spaghetti can be hurled in the general direction, knocking that sucker right over (on your head, but that’s a small price to pay for cheesy goodness). Or, behold! This grocery basket becomes a handy step stool when flipped upside down! Genius! In fact, I’ve found there’s not much I can’t do, once I figure out a creative way to go about it. Harness this creativity for the rest of life’s challenges.

What other life lessons did you learn from being the shortest kid in class?

44 Comments

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    b_ra

    Being the shortest kid in class, I've learned to embrace my height. I have a great sense of humour about it and I never let it get me down. If you have a positive attitude about your height (or weight, etc), you'll have a great shield against anything thrown at you. More often than not, I forget that I'm very short and just live life as though I am 6 feet tall :D

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    curls-and-pearls

    LOL Kelly, this is hilarious but oh so true! Believe it or not I was never the shortest til I became an adult when all my friends outgrew me. But even now I'm actually almost average height at work :P

    I disagree about not being able to play basketball LOL – I suck now but little known fact (even my husband doesn't believe me hahaha) I was captain of my basketball team and coached bball in highschool ;)

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Jackie

    Great post! I can relate to all of the above. I was always the littlest girl in class; probably in my whole flippin' school. One of the most important things I learned was waaay after that though. When I was 20 I learned that:

    1. No matter what your physical hang up, your negative can be turned into a positive. As a martial artist I learned to use my small body in ways I never thought possible. I'm strong…just in an unexpected way.

    2. Don't take things personally. When someone discriminates you because of your size (or what have you), that's an issue that THEY are dealing with. It's NOT your fault. =)

    3. Don't worry about things you can't control, fix the things you can. I can't do anything about the fact that I'm 4'10" but I can control how I feel about it and how I choose to present myself. =)

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Anonymous

    Anyone has this experience ? A tall person intentionally rests his or her arm on your head and pretends to lean their weight on you as a support. It's not funny and I found it very degrading. Not only I will push him or her away, I will return with a punch at their tummy. Sorry! I am "pretending" you are my punch bag.

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Aubrey

    Hahaha Great article – all too true and entertaining. Thanks for all your "short support"! ;D

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Recovering Shopaholic

    Really adorable post! I've always schooled my taller counterparts in limbo contests!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Elle

    lol great post Kelly! To be honest I wasn't really very short or particularly skinny as a kid, I just stopped growing when everyone got their respective growth spurts. But I think my brother can sympathize with some of the life lessons here…he was really skinny and on the shorter end of the spectrum as a kid and got picked on a lot. I remember fighting older boys a lot as a kid because I thought I was supposed to be protecting my brother. :)

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    lia

    @Anonymous

    ah, this used to happen to me all the time in HS. Especially by close friends (no, that does not make it ok!) I got used to stepping out from under them and tipping em off balance in revenge :P That and an added glare usually stops future uses of my head as an arm rest!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Tiffany - I am Style-ish

    great post! I love the creativity point. So true. You should see me in my kitchen, we have a step stool for me but sometimes I like to "macgyver" stuff to help me reach the stuff on the top shelf.

    I've used my shortness to my advantage more times than I can count. People are so jealous of how I can curl up in my seat on the airplane! LOL!

    When I was in high school I was on cheer and was one of the two smallest girls so was always the flyer (the one that gets thrown into the air) and you can't really complain about that since it's the most exciting part on the cheer squad! I loved the attention ;) Being small definitely has it's advantages!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Marie @ Lemondrop Vintage

    The grocery store shelves are such a pain! But I stop tall strangers and they always help, though I am not above using display items either.I guess another life lesson is to love myself as I am instead of bemoaning what I am not.

    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge
    Otis and James accessory giveaway

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Tamara

    As a short person I became proficient at climbing from an early age. I can still hop atop a counter and reach those high shelves lickety-split. To my chagrin, my son (age 3) appears to be a great climber too, especially where there are cookies to be found. :)

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    maryeb

    Love the 'petite MacGyver' idea. Very funny and oh, so true. Dodge ball and red rover were the bane of my grade school years. After all this time it's nice to find some camaraderie with fellow petites.

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    mary

    Can you please stop with the demeaning stereotypes? I am so offended by "you can't be good at basketball" because that is such an offensive myth. My daughter – and she is just one shining example – has excelled at basketball her entire life, and now is on her 4th year of varsity. Ever heard of Becky Hammon, Nate Archibald, Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues, etc? No, I thought now. Next time think before you pretend to be an expert on something you know absolutely nothing about!!!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @b_ra – LOL. I've gotten myself in precarious situations because I think I'm 6 feet tall in my head.

    @curls-and-pearls – So cool to hear you were a b-ball star! I LOVED basketball, and while I was quick, the taller kids pummeled any shots I tried to take. I got pretty good at H-O-R-S-E though! I was also incredibly short all through school, so maybe you had a height advantage on me too. ;)

    @Jackie – Good list! So true about not taking things personally. I've learned to have quite a good sense of humor about my height. So cool that you're a martial artist! Nobody better mess with you! ;)

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Anonymous – Luckily that hasn't happened to me in a while, but yes, it has happened to me pretty often growing up. Not a very original joke if you ask me. :P

    @Aubrey – Thanks Aubrey! ;)

    @Recovering Shopaholic – LOL! Limbo! Maybe I missed my calling!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Elle – Lucky you! I've never known what it's like to not be the shortest kid in class. Poor brother! Being a short guy is way tougher than being a short girl. What a good sister you were sticking up for him!

    @Tiffany – I am Style-ish – Thanks Tiffany! I'm constantly coming up with new ways to get stuff down from up high. Petite MacGyver is right! Everyone wanted me to try out to be the flyer but I was never a fan of being tossed around. It sounds terrifying to me! You're a brave girl! And, yes! I always love that I have ample space on planes and packed cars. Being small has it's upsides. ;)

    @Marie @ Lemondrop Vintage – If I can't seem to get an item myself, my favorite line to use to get help from someone is, "Can I use your height for a second?".

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Anonymous

    @mary Saw your FB comment and had to see what all the fuss is about. I think you're being a bit over-the-top.

    "Let's face it, there's just some stuff you're not going to be very good at. Like reaching high shelves, or probably basketball."

    Key word: Probably

    A (I'm going to guess) 4'5 grade school girl playing basketball on a 10' rim PROBABLY isn't going to dominate the sport. Becky Hammon is a 5'6 guard (that's not a petite height). Nate Archibald was 6'1. Webb/Bogues/Robinson are adult (i.e. post puberty) athletic freaks.

    You've taken the post out of context.

    Go Pack Go!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Tamara – Yes! I am also still an excellent climber. My knees are usually bruised from having climbed onto a counter and reaching to something on my knees. ;)

    @maryeb – OMG…I still get all anxious at the thought of dodge ball and red rover. Terrifying!

    @mary – Sorry you didn't enjoy my post. Wonderful to hear your daughter is a star basketball player, and I wish her lots of athletic luck in the future!

    This post is based on my personal experience being, quite literally, the smallest, and scrawniest kid in school. I have a sense of humor about this, and hope it was portrayed in this post. Yes! I do know Mugsy Bogues! He was my personal hero growing up, because, I LOVED basketball and wanted to play BADLY. Sadly, it was not in the cards for me. LOL. I also know there are exceptions to every rule, which is why you'll see the word "probably" in my post related to being a basketball star. Cheers!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    AubreyOhDang!

    I use it as an excuse to talk to tall hotties!

    Who doesn't like to sit atop a hottie's shoulders @ a concert? I do!! you w/me kelly??!!

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @AubreyOhDang! – LOL. I have very fond memories of the hot rocker boys who saved me from spontaneous mosh pits in my college days. I'm with ya Aubrey! ;)

  • Reply March 28, 2011

    Anonymous

    I love this post. I can really relate to point 1 in your post. I just started at a new company today and again, I'm the shortest person there. My position at that company requires me having to manage certain groups within my department. When I was introduced to my coworkers today, I can already see the doubt in their faces that I can't do the job, boy are the in for a surprise. I'm a tough little cookie!

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Anonymous

    My mantra: Though it is often difficult for me to find shoes, a size 4 shoe is pretty much always cuter then a size 10.

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    PetiteXXS

    I don't think I was the shortest kid in class per se, just that everyone else outgrew me in my teens :) But other than not being able to find clothes that fit (and perhaps not being taken as seriously at work), I actually enjoy being small! Just yesterday, I managed to squeeze into my driver seat despite the mere 6 inches of space left by the car parked to my left! There are benefits I say ;)

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Anonymous – Ah yes…I feel you. I'm always "surprising" people at what I can do professionally. I'm short, not incompetent. Go get 'em! Show them who's boss! ;)

    @Anonymous – And that is why all the display shoes are the smallest sizes available. They're cute! I do feel for the big footed ladies as well though. Not only are larger sizes hard to find, but they're not as attractive as their smaller counterparts either. My niece has this problem, poor girl.

    @PetiteXXS – This seems to be a common experience. Most ladies here are mentioning they only became short after everyone else outgrew them. Hmm…I wonder how many people share my experience of always being the shortest/smallest growing up.

    LOL…yes, tight spaces are a petite girl's specialty. As a kid, I was always being shoved into windows to let neighbors back into their house, or unlock cars. I was a handy little tool to have around. I still rarely meet a tight space I can't maneuver. ;)

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Anonymous

    Yes, I was once the tallest in the class with an early puberty at 10. Most outgrew me, BUT I grew up in NYC with a large Latina and Asian population so I was never the smallest at 5'2ish" around.

    I rode the subways since a child and being short, and especially thin (100 lbs.), I found early on that I could make my way in the crowd and onto the subway cars by walking SIDEWAYS. I could fit into the doors this way. They didn't even know I was there. Plus, if there was any room at all on the bench seats, I could squeeze my way into between people. People would see the size of me and move an inch or two to give me more space!

    Climbing? Done that for decades. It prepares you for old age (62). I can still climb onto my kitchen countertops to get my cat who jumps on top of the cabinets. I can climb a 12 ladder with ease, whereas my 6'2" husband has a very, very hard time of it at this age. Decades of climbing keeps you in shape for old age.

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Anonymous

    Today I received an unexpected complment. I am 62, 5'2 and weigh 100 lbs. I lift and carry a 45 lb., 5 year old CP boy mulitple time an hour, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, at work. His 27 year old, 5'8", 140 lb., teacher picked him up and carried him outside. When she came back and handed him to me, she said, "If I had to lift and carry "Joey" all day like this, I would never need to diet or work out at a gym."

    As Stevie Nicks said in Leather and Lace, "your thinking I am fragile and I try not to be." "I have my own life and I am stronger than you know". I can add both physically and mentally.

    Stevie at 4'11" sums up what we all know.

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Ski Petite

    What a great post. I can definitely relate to this. I think that being underestimate is something a lot of petites have dealt with, and I love when we stand up and prove how amazing we are.

  • Reply March 30, 2011

    Anonymous

    @ AT, I've with you on the always short/small. When I was born my cousin actually give my mom all of her doll clothes to dress me in until i could fit into infant clothing.

  • Reply March 31, 2011

    ShortieK

    I was one of the people that's always been the shortest in the class. In middle school, there was a girl who was slightly shorter than me and that was a big deal!
    Same as Anonymous above, I was a preemie and wore doll clothes for the first 6th months of my life!
    I struggled with "being noticed when I wanted", but the tips you mention definitely work. Bright red hair works too!

  • Reply March 31, 2011

    Mia

    Kelly,

    Your post was a good read. I've always been one of the smallest in school in both weight and height so I can definitely relate! In elementary school my parents actually had me tested to see if I had some type of growth disorder. Of course there was nothing amiss, I was (and still am!) just a tiny little girl.

    I've learned over the years to take advantage of my stature. I'm a useful tool to friends and co-workers (often being put up on shelves or sent into tiny spaces) and they are always willing to return the favor of height should I need it. Also, many people assume that I'm unable to do the job at hand, or assume that I am younger and less experienced so I always set my performance to stun. People are usually taken aback at my strength and conviction which ends up rocketing me past my taller colleagues.

    I've had my share of people in school and in the professional world that don't take me seriously or that seem to not even see that I am there. Like a few posters have replied.. you can't let that bother you. I've found that you really need to look at life with a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart.

    It also helps knowing that at a size 2 there's really no one that will be able to "fill my shoes". :-P

  • Reply April 1, 2011

    Suzanne

    My daughter is very petite and will probably grow up to be the smallest kid in her classes. But her personality is larger than life!

  • Reply April 2, 2011

    Anonymous

    It's funny. At 5"2' you would think people would see me as petite. But I've had student athletes and very tall colleagues tell me that I come across as taller and more authoritative than the other professors!

  • Reply April 4, 2011

    Anonymous

    I love this post. I just have one comment: I'm 5'5" and played center and power-forward on my high school's JV basketball team. I wasn't great, but one of my best friends is barely 5' and she was the starting shooting guard on our Varsity team. She was tiny, but she was so fast that people would lose track of her. She might not have been able to make the Olympics women's basketball team, but even most tall people couldn't do it.

  • Reply April 4, 2011

    Getthebubbles

    omg, this was great! I'm 32, and still 4'11", just like I was in 6th grade. I come from a family of short people, so have lots of role models of how to live life as a shortie. My dad, who is 5'2", played basketball and wrestled in high school – it never stopped him. I learned that I'm usually put in the front in pictures so make sure to have on cute shoes :)

  • Reply April 5, 2011

    poet

    Amen! I used to be the shortest kid in my class, though I eventually grew to stand at the upper bound of petite / lower bound of "average-sized", and I do still need to climb chairs to reach top shelves! I really appreciate being short because it means I'll never have the problem of finding sleeves and pant-legs long enough for me – what is too long can easily be shortened, but not the other way around (as my sister, who is 5" taller than me by virtue of extraordinarily long legs, had to experience…).

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Getthebubbles

    omg, this was great! I'm 32, and still 4'11", just like I was in 6th grade. I come from a family of short people, so have lots of role models of how to live life as a shortie. My dad, who is 5'2", played basketball and wrestled in high school – it never stopped him. I learned that I'm usually put in the front in pictures so make sure to have on cute shoes :)

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Mia

    Kelly,

    Your post was a good read. I've always been one of the smallest in school in both weight and height so I can definitely relate! In elementary school my parents actually had me tested to see if I had some type of growth disorder. Of course there was nothing amiss, I was (and still am!) just a tiny little girl.

    I've learned over the years to take advantage of my stature. I'm a useful tool to friends and co-workers (often being put up on shelves or sent into tiny spaces) and they are always willing to return the favor of height should I need it. Also, many people assume that I'm unable to do the job at hand, or assume that I am younger and less experienced so I always set my performance to stun. People are usually taken aback at my strength and conviction which ends up rocketing me past my taller colleagues.

    I've had my share of people in school and in the professional world that don't take me seriously or that seem to not even see that I am there. Like a few posters have replied.. you can't let that bother you. I've found that you really need to look at life with a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart.

    It also helps knowing that at a size 2 there's really no one that will be able to "fill my shoes". :-P

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Suzanne

    My daughter is very petite and will probably grow up to be the smallest kid in her classes. But her personality is larger than life!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Elle – Lucky you! I've never known what it's like to not be the shortest kid in class. Poor brother! Being a short guy is way tougher than being a short girl. What a good sister you were sticking up for him!

    @Tiffany – I am Style-ish – Thanks Tiffany! I'm constantly coming up with new ways to get stuff down from up high. Petite MacGyver is right! Everyone wanted me to try out to be the flyer but I was never a fan of being tossed around. It sounds terrifying to me! You're a brave girl! And, yes! I always love that I have ample space on planes and packed cars. Being small has it's upsides. ;)

    @Marie @ Lemondrop Vintage – If I can't seem to get an item myself, my favorite line to use to get help from someone is, "Can I use your height for a second?".

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    mary

    Can you please stop with the demeaning stereotypes? I am so offended by "you can't be good at basketball" because that is such an offensive myth. My daughter – and she is just one shining example – has excelled at basketball her entire life, and now is on her 4th year of varsity. Ever heard of Becky Hammon, Nate Archibald, Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues, etc? No, I thought now. Next time think before you pretend to be an expert on something you know absolutely nothing about!!!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Tamara

    As a short person I became proficient at climbing from an early age. I can still hop atop a counter and reach those high shelves lickety-split. To my chagrin, my son (age 3) appears to be a great climber too, especially where there are cookies to be found. :)

  • Reply July 25, 2011

    Wesleyvincent

    Im a 7th grader, and im the size of a 11 year old but extremely fast, i use that for my own advantage around GIANT bullies

    • Reply July 25, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Yes! Speed is certainly on the side of us shorties. I hope you use it to your advantage when it comes to sports as well! :)

  • Reply September 12, 2011

    xBlushingBeautyx

    A great encouraging post.
    I do believe we, petite folk, have to work hard to make others, ‘bigger’ folk, take us seriously. It’s to be expected. It can be a little frustrating, but you have to learn to find your zen, so to speak. With time and practice, over 95% of the time now I’ve learned to not let discouraging remarks or looks based on my size get me down.
    My sister, also very petite, learned quickly not to let others tell her what she can and can not do because of her size. She’s a ball of energy. Both her and I are redheads and she sometimes portrays the stereotype of being feisty, haha. In a good way, she knows how to put someone twice her size in their place (hope that makes sense).
    I think everyone has done a nice job of covering the benefits of being petite. Oh, often in any kind of group picture, I do get to be in the front almost all the time, haha. =)

    http://littlerosetrove.blogspot.com/

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