My Mother’s Growth Records


My mother has kept detailed records of my height and weight since my birth. While growing up, my mother would stick a Post-it on a wall, call me over, ask me to stand up nice and straight, and mark my height. Then we would move to the scale. I considered this exercise a nuisance since I already did this at the doctor’s office. I didn’t know my mother kept a notebook where she meticulously recorded all this data – dozens of entries since I was two years old.

When she declassified the notebook the other day, I was shocked at its level of detail and care. If she wasn’t my parent I would’ve filed a restraining order. It was freaky yet touching to see the whole thing. My mother, being a Chinese immigrant, worries about the height of her children growing up in America. Her notebook was one way in which she measured her success as a parent. Was she raising her kids to be tall and healthy?

To me, the notebook was a gold mine of data that I could play around with. The first thing: why use analog when you can go digital? So I entered everything into Excel. Converted years to months, pounds to kilograms, and inches to centimeters. I wanted a basis of comparison so I pulled data from the Center for Disease Control’s 2000 growth charts. I plotted my growth against the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles.

age vs height age vs weight age vs BMI Observations:

  • I’m more/less below average in height and weight
  • I became a fatty when I was 7