This past weekend, we visited with some friends we had not seen in well over a year. Their son, Drew, is older than Jax and was also born with Achondroplasia. I honestly couldn’t believe the difference in his appearance. Gone is the baby look which has given way to the more characteristic features of an Achon. The longer, broader face and wide shoulders clearly said, “‘adolescence”; Jax all but fit into his shadow. As with all boys, noticeable changes happen upon entering these years; however, due to the common physical characteristics associated with this type of dwarfism, those changes are just a little different. When children with Achondroplasia are born, they have what is called, “redundant skin folds”, meaning they have more tissue than bone, mostly in the upper part of the limbs. It is often mistakenly seen as fat. “Baby fat” or not, that look decreases as they mature. The round face and body are replaced with a more squared look with most of the boys, as muscle builds up and the features mature. It becomes clear that they have a type of disproportionate dwarfism. People begin to ask less questions about your child and people begin to associate them with familiar faces, such as those of celebrities, or someone they’ve met in the past. In all other aspects, the experience is the same — your baby is growing up.
Later that evening, we went to dinner. Jax strutted right up to the hostess and said, “Reservation for Senator Jax.” (His favorite joke.) The hostess giggled and grabbed 4 adult menus and 1 child menu with crayons. We took our seats and I noticed Drew looking over his adult menu with disapproving judgement. He glared back at the waitress, looked over at Jax with his crayons, then frowned.
“Where’s my menu?”
His father chuckled, “You’re a big kid now, buddy.”
I recall the times when a waitress may have asked if he needed a booster seat, or would perhaps automatically looked to his parents to order for him and how he would get annoyed at that. Usually, mom or dad would direct the waitress to ask him what he would like, but when your 10, the embarrassment has already been set.
“Honey, you should be happy, she saw a young man, not a little kid.” His mother reassured.
Drew sat still with a blank face.
His dad jumped in cheerfully, “You’re all grown up! You get the adult menu!”
The blank face remained.
Finally his dad looked over at my son, who was holding out a crayon to Drew, then motioned for the waitress with a wave of the last crayon. She brought another kid’s placemat and crayons for Drew. Immediately, Drew turned it over and said with a grin, “See, 12 and under….I’m still twelve for two more weeks.”
Jax jumped in, “Oh, yeah… we could probably get these until we’re like 15, maybe longer!”
Drew smiled back.
I guess when it comes to being a kid and being cool, some things just don’t count.