Some part of me always knew this was going to happen one day, but I thought we had a few more years.
Eggbert is...how do I put this kindly...freakishly small for her age. She was under the 3rd percentile for height (well, length, I guess, in a newborn) when she was born, and around the 10th for weight, and she has stayed pretty close to those numbers throughout her life so far, floating between the 3rd and 10th percentiles for height (but mostly sticking closely to the 3rd). Good things come in small packages, right? At age 4, she is just barely over 36 inches (91.5 cm) and 30 pounds (13.6 kg). So, if she were only 3, she'd still be on the small side (the 41-42nd percentile for height and weight), but for a 4-year-old she is tiny. She doesn't seem to have noticed yet that her classmates at preschool tower over her, but I have certainly noticed the other parents and even the teachers sometimes grouping her in with the 3-year-olds, or even the 2-year-olds, when they are talking about ages. The "up" side is that this makes her seem wildly precocious--people often tell me how well she speaks, for example, as if being able to communicate effectively at age 4 is an unusual accomplishment, but the down side is that she is often babied and not challenged to act her age.
Anyway, a few days ago, we went to I*kea. We live in the middle of nowhere, so this is an epic journey for us--over 2 hours each way--but necessary in light of a recent move and the subsequent discovery of how little furniture we actually owned. So off we went. And I'll tell the truth. I was excited. It's not that I*kea is my design ideal, but I just find the bright colors and do-it-yourself attitude enchanting, and the prices are affordable enough that I don't agonize over purchases there like I do over most things. Our plan was to arrive there around lunchtime, have lunch in their cafe (one of rare venues that has something that each of the 3 of us really likes), then take Eggbert to the playroom while Mystery and I shopped.
At first things went off without a hitch. The drive was good. Eggbert was cheery, Mystery and I were happy, and we made good time. Lunch was reasonably enjoyable, and we trotted off to the playroom with eager anticipation (Eggbert), and only mild misgivings (me). There was a queue, so we waited our turn. We watched the staff check in child after child, and then it was Eggbert's turn. We got to the front. The staff member frowned.
"They have to be potty trained!" she said. "
Of course she's potty trained!" I said.
"They can't be wearing a pullup!" she insisted.
"She's not!" I said, beginning to feel annoyed.
"She's too small!"
I took her up to the "children below this height cannot enter" sign and showed the staff member that Eggbert was right at the line.
"Take off her shoes!" she crowed.
We did. She was about 1/4 inch below the line. The woman said "see! we can't take her."
I whined "but she's four!" The woman just shook her head.
A lively conversation ensued among the parents behind us. "She's four? There is no way that child is four! Is she really four? How could she be four?"
We skulked off. Eggbert was crushed about not being able to go to the playroom, although she didn't really understand the reason. I was furious at myself for putting her through that, but also furious at the staff for being so unbending. On one level I get it, they don't want kids of too many different sizes playing together because someone might get hurt, but the upper limit was based on age, not height, so apparently they will let in 6-footers that are 7, but not 3-footers who are 4, so it's not just a size disparity issue. Ultimately, I'm sure they have their reasons, but that knowledge doesn't actually make me feel any better about the fact that my child was excluded based on a physical feature that she has no control over.
Sigh. It probably won't be the last time.