In 2003, I was standing on the sidelines of an Alabama vs. Auburn basketball game when I heard a voice behind me.

“You sure are a tall girl,” the man said.

I looked behind to find Tommy Tuberville, Auburn’s then-head football coach standing behind me. I was blocking his view. He smiled and I apologized and stepped aside - it wasn’t the first time something like that happened. When you’re a woman who happens to be 6-feet-tall and sometimes wear heels, you tend to stick out in a crowd.

I’m a back-row kind of person. I learned early during my days in the kids’ choir at church that the tall kids go in the back. It’s something that really hasn’t changed, whether it’s posing for a group picture or watching an event from a crowd.

I have to special order my pants online. When my husband and I were newly married, he bemoaned the idea of walking into a shoe store with me, until I explained to him that it wouldn’t take long, because shoe stores don’t carry my size.

For what seemed like forever, strangers on the street would ask me one of two questions: How tall I am, or if I played basketball. And when it came to grocery shopping, people always ask me if I can help them reach something on the top shelf (which I really don’t mind).

For a lot of people, there are personal physical attributes that define them, traits that are so ingrained in who they are that it would feel odd being any other way. For me, it’s my height.

And when it comes to my three kids, people frequently comment on their height. Maybe it’s because my youngest two kids are genuinely tall for their age - they come by it honestly. Maybe it’s because people see me or my 6-foot, 2-inch husband and naturally expect our kids to be tall, too. Only, how do you explain to one kid when they’re not?

Last week at a doctor’s appointment, the nurse commented on how my 9-year-old daughter grew 2 inches in only six months.

“How tall am I going to be when I grow up?” my daughter asked me, as we drove home from her appointment.

For the last six years, my daughter has stayed constant between the 40th and 50th percentile for height. Now, in fourth grade, she is the same height as her brother, who is in first grade.

“If you continue on the same percentage, you’ll be about 5-foot-3 or 5-foot-4,” I told my girl.

“Is that as tall as you?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “It’s about 9 inches shorter.”

“Is that as tall as Grandmom?” she asked, referring to my mom, who is 5-foot-11.

“No,” I told her.

“Is that as tall as Mimi?” she asked, referring to my husband’s mother, who is 5-foot-10.

“Not quite,” I replied.

“Will I be tall as Aunt Andrea?” she asked, referring to my sister, who at 5-foot-8 is the shortest person on my side of the family.

“I think you will be the shortest in the family,” I replied. “But that’s a good thing.”

It was then that I caught a glimpse of my sweet girl in the rearview mirror, tears streaming down her cheeks as she looked out the window. My heart broke. How do you explain to your child that being “average” - is a good thing?

I joked with her that she’ll never have to worry about finding jeans long enough, or shoes big enough. She’ll never have to worry about finding a date who is “tall enough” or whether or she’s blocking someone’s view. Still, my 9-year-old cried quietly all the way home.

As we entered the house, I told my husband about the conversation and he pulled her aside. I never met my husband’s grandmother, who is our daughter’s namesake. She died when my husband was still a teenager. But from what I know about her, she was a tiny-but-fierce woman who was barely over 5-feet tall. She was someone who stood up for what was right, regardless of public opinion and would bend over backwards for her family. She was, and is, someone to look up to, my husband explained to our daughter.

“If you are shorter than the rest of us, that’s because you have some of her inside you,” my husband explained. “And that is a very, very lucky thing.”

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.