The Giant Just Watched
Among the kids in the neighborhood, I was considered exceptionally tall — not because I truly was, but it was just that all my contemporaries were very short. Being the big kid somehow made me popular for games because they counted on me to be fast and easily able to reach stuff, and so, I was always top pick for teams. I enjoyed being big until I had a growth spurt during my “‘tween” years.
At 9 years old, I started getting mistaken for a teenager because aside from shooting up a few inches, my body started developing. My aunts tirelessly pointed out that I was too big to hang out with the other kids and that I should start wearing different clothes already. I hated that immensely — my neighborhood friends who were all older than me freely played outside whenever school was out while I was constantly discouraged from doing the same thing.
The even bigger source of frustration was that around that time, rides and play areas in some fast food restaurants became popular. I wanted so badly to go on the rides and play, but the attendants always questioned my age since I was so much taller than the other kids. They were so strict back then and I had no ID to show them that indeed I was only 9 years old and still a kid — I was often turned away.
Everybody thought it was funny that kids older than me — some even already teenagers (I had male cousins who stayed under five feet until they reached high school) — were allowed access to the playgrounds and paid playrooms, while I was declined entry to the paradise of kiddie fun every time. It wasn’t.
My giant of an uncle who was the biggest man in our street consoled me in a way by saying that the playrooms really had to deny me entry not because I could potentially break the play equipment but because me playing there would be “controversial”; as someone who was 5’7” at the age of 10, (now 6’3” and large as a bear) my uncle knew what he was talking about. Therefore, at the age of 10, I stopped dragging my parents to the fast food restaurants that had playrooms — they were no fun for me anyway. I, the giant kid, could only watch.
Several years back, though, my girlfriends and I attended this event and there was this huge bouncy castle; my best friend dragged me over and paid for both of us.
“Aren’t we too big for that?” I remarked at her, remembering how I was always turned away from paid playgrounds as a kid.
The attendant overheard and said, “It’s okay, ma’am, this thing is strong enough for at least 20 of you.”
I quickly removed my blazer and my boots, and crawled to the center of the bouncy castle and bounced happily like a kangaroo before climbing up the slide and tumbling-slid down.
A male friend of ours, as big as Baymax, saw me and my BFF and said, “Hey, are you two 6 year olds? Wait, I’m joining you.”
Only the three of us used the bouncy castle for about half an hour and then kids saw us having fun and decided to join in. Male friend complained, “Those kids had to come and ruin our fun. Gosh, I’ve always wanted to go on one of those when I was a kid but I was too big.”
“Me too,” I exclaimed. “I just often watched other kids play.”
Male friend felt my pain, “Wasn’t that so sad?!”
“I played on those until I was 16,” my best friend said. She’s 4’10”.
At least I got to outwork a childhood frustration that day and instead of me envying “other kids” having fun, they actually envied me having fun. I just wished they didn’t join us so soon; we were having a blast until they arrived.