Whoo. It's been a while. Work's going nuts and the house is still torn apart with the finishing touches on the hardwood floors not quite finishing as fast as I'd like. Add that to the Christmas rush and I've had to cancel my daily "lung-filling-with-oxygen-for-prolonged consciousness" exercises in favour of the less recommended "pray-for-oxygen-through-osmosis-before-you-pass-out" school of time management. Still, if I'm going to rant I should be thorough. So, without further ado, I give you....
My Adventures Amongst the Pygmies of Eastern Ontario
Like most parents, I’m always amazed at how fast my kids grow up. As adults we get so used to owning the same articles of clothing for years on end it can sometimes baffle us when we stare at the pajamas that fit our kids just last month and realize that they can now barely get their feet through the cuffs. Still, for most of us this is a normal part of having children and for many a quick trip to the local Walmart, (or Gymboree in my case, a big shout out for Jamie’s Mom!) a quick dip in the bank account and we can hit the snooze alarm on that particular slice of life-awareness for another three months.
Well, most of us can, at any rate. For any who know me, they are well used to the minor eclipse that occurs on even the sunniest days when I’m around. At 6’8’’ I tend to block a great deal of ambient light whenever I come over to chat (and depending on my angle of approach). For any who don’t know me the effect can be quite off-putting and I have actually had people stifle a small scream as they whip out of the elevator only to be confronted by my sternum at eye-level. Living, as I do, in a region of Canada that is literally swarming with the under 5’10’’ set, I do worry as to how my children will cope as they get older. Though my own parents were of normal height it has already become quite obvious that my own size seems to be an evolutionary trait that my children have inherited. Both of them come in at near the top of their class in overall height and already wear two to three sizes above their age range in clothing.
And here, then, is the crux of my concern. Like their dear old dad there will come a time when their ability to find clothes in their size will be put to the test. Consider, I can walk into any shopping mall in this city and be pretty much guaranteed that not a single article of clothing in there will fit me properly. Now, think about that for a second. Walk into the largest mall you can get to. Look down the rank upon rank of clothing shops and try to imagine for a moment that nothing they sell, absolutely nothing, is going to fit. Not the socks, shoes, ties, jeans, whatever. Zero. Nada. Need to replace a shirt? Too bad. Shoes wearing out? Oh well. Winter coming? Sucks to be you. For some reason despite the fact that the population of the rest of Canada seems to be growing at a normal rate the population of Ottawa-Carleton continues to remain, well, stunted, or at the very least they tend to lag behind the national average. And don’t even get me started on what passes for selection in the stores of this backwater outpost we call a capital.
Unfortunately, the infrastructure that serves the local "wee folk" hasn’t evolved much either in the decades I've spent here. Yesterday I watched as the boots of my youngest son brushed against the floor of the bus and I immediately realized that in another year or so his leg swinging days on seats that are too big for him will be gone forever. A few years after that he’ll be wedged into the bus seats at a perpetual back-torquing 45 degree angle, stuck in a spot that was designed for someone who never grew past 5’6’’. This realization regarding the average height of the denizens of Ottawa-Carleton causes an even bigger mystery. How, by all that's holy, with such a short population, do the denizens of this town manage to take up an entire sidewalk. There isn’t a day that goes past when I’m not sidestepping or turning profile to squeeze past one of the many barreling dwarves that seemingly make up the majority of the population of Ottawa's downtown core.
Still, the times they are a’changin’ (if albeit in a glacial way). I have noticed in the past few years a slow trickle of people more my own height poking up above the sea of heads like a humpback surfacing for air. The first few times I was amazed. It’s like being told you’re an endangered species all your life and then realizing that you aren’t the only one of your kind left. Now, it’s just kinda cool not having to be introduced to people’s bald spots before I can look them in the face. As for my kids, hopefully by the time they’re grown Ottawa will have progressed to where the rest of the planet was twenty years ago and they won’t feel quite as awkward. Still, given the issues I found with finding clothes that fit, and knowing that there are only a handful of shops in the entire city that carry my size in, well, anything, I’m halfway tempted to start stocking up on adult clothing for them now to avoid the rush.