A Sense of Scale

I think I’ve gotten used to being tall.  When you are over six feet, as I am just barely, you realize the world is made for people 6-8″ shorter.  Working at a counter means hunching over like Quasimodo.  Getting anything out of the f#@king lower cabinets or drawers means getting on all fours like a rat.  Airplane seats earn you a black belt in contortion and in many showers your sternum gets a better scrub than your head.  Whine, moan, etc.  Alright, try being half that height.  Half!  The built environment that Number Two inhabits is practically made for a different species.  Counters are like roofs on which land your toys.  Door handles are above your head and light switches are a distant impossibility.  Just forget about reaching the cookie jar–it’s up in the clouds.

Now imagine going camping when you are tiny.  If the sky seems vast to adults, if trees tower above you, just imagine the permanent crick in your neck if you were Number Two’s height.  Things that make sense to adults, like sleeping bags, are foreign.  You want me to climb into this long tube and have my head stick out?  And a tent is like a palace when you wake up and have it all to yourself:

Number Two waking in tent


He did remarkably well and Child Harbat is now a seasoned pro at camping.  And even if you are only three feet tall there’s no reason you can’t eat an adult-sized doughboy filled with jelly and melted butter.  This is why we go camping.

Number Two eating doughboy


Oh, what a lovely blog post!  But let’s go behind the scenes.  See that pretty green sweatshirt he’s wearing above?  It belongs to his big sister because he threw up on his coat the moment he stepped out of the car.  Now we know that to ride backwards for an hour on twisty mountain roads might cause one’s stomach full of porridge and mac ‘n cheese to churn up and need immediate release on your coat, pants, shoes, and all over the ground.  But he was soon in better spirits and running/stumbling downhill toward the steel fire ring filled with white-hot coals and exuberant flames.  Then he picked up a sharp pointy stick and waved it around at everyone, jabbed it at people’s legs, then fell down in the mulch.  At breakfast the next morning I got his camping-filth hands washed clean and, while I washed my hands in the restroom, he asked me about the urinal while grabbing at the plastic screen in it.  I see in your future another handwashing!  I guess if you’re only three feet tall a urinal is at the exact right height for reaching in and fishing around at the colorful cakes in there. Like I said, it’s a different world if you’re short.

Writer, architect, father, husband.

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