“It’s just a phase,” she said sweetly, wisely even, with a knowing mama look. My dear friend is a few years ahead of me in this parenting game, and I respect her wisdom. That being said, there was a tiny part of me that wanted to wring her wise little neck after such a comment! Not really. Kind of. Because how does SHE know that this child’s particular behavior is a just a phase? We went to bed last night, and all was well. I woke up this morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And then…BOOM! Child A has a new behavior that just grates on my last nerve. What if it’s not just a phase? What if my life, as I know it, is over? What if this JUST. NEVER. ENDS?
It’s funny how permanent things feel in the moment that you’re in them. Not “haha!” funny necessarily, but funny. When your little angel develops a new, and immensely irritating, behavior overnight, it can feel like your life has been turned upside down! Since it is hard to find the humor while you’re in the thick of it, I am going to share some of my least favorite childhood “phases” with you!
My Least Favorite Childhood “Phases”
1. The “No Sleeping” phase.
I think we can all agree that this one is the WORST! I know that there are mamas out there who can function on relatively few hours of sleep, for years at a time. I have crazy respect for you and applaud your abilities. I, however, am not one of those mamas. I expect a lack of sleep with a newborn and young infant. I even expect a lack of sleep with sick kids. However, when my little darling, who has slept soundly for months at a time, suddenly avoids sleep like the Plague, I am going to lose my ever-loving mind. If the aforementioned child is not sick, teething, and has not experienced any recent life changes, I mean, give me a break. It might be noon, and I can’t decide if I need wine or coffee. I am running to Natural Grocers in search of lavender oil and googling “how old does a child have to be for melatonin?”
2. The “TV show/movie character” phase.
Ok, so I have some empathy for my kids here. Because really, as adults, we still have our favorite shows and characters. Lines from “Friends” still pop into my head on a regular basis, and true confession: I have a favorite “Law and Order” mug that I like to drink my coffee in. My issue with the TV show/movie character phase is twofold. First, while I might enjoy the movie Frozen as much as the next guy, I do NOT enjoy the soundtrack in my SUV on the 47,000th listen. Whatever show or movie character is the current obsession just saturates every last minute of our day, week, month. It’s exhausting. Secondly, when it comes to the beloved character phase, I always just seem to be a smidge behind the eight ball. I excitedly plan some sort of surprise related to the current favorite character, whether it is a birthday present or tickets to Sesame Street Live/Paw Patrol/Whatever and I build up anticipation in my head. I am sure to be the coolest mother ever. I can’t wait to see the look on my child’s face and finally, TA-DAH! Here is your surprise! Come to find out that the child in question is no longer interested in that particular character. Appreciative, sure. Enamored? No. That ship has sailed, and I wasn’t on it. But alas, here I am standing next to 10-foot-tall Paw Patrol characters.
3. The “Lovey” phase.
Again, I have some empathy for my kids here. Because who doesn’t want to feel warm and secure?? I would walk around with a bamboo blanket if I could. In fact, I am currently trying to get our youngest to attach to some sort of comfort object. All of the stuffed animals and blankies that I keep putting in his crib have been rejected, however. Again, my issue with the loveys is twofold. First of all, sometimes, that thing just needs to be washed. It is not sanitary. It just needs a quick run through the old washer and dryer, and it will be good as new. Unfortunately for you, though, your child acts as if you cut off his arm. Secondly, sometimes your child finds comfort in an object that seems…well…a bit odd. Which is fine, at home. Out in public, however, you get some stares. For example, one of our children, who shall remain nameless, has found comfort in belly buttons. Just popping a little finger in a belly button. You know, for comfort. Not the belly buttons of strangers, to be fair; said child has awareness of social norms, but the belly buttons of family members are enormously comforting. I myself find personal space enormously comforting.
4. The “Random Yelling of Words/Sounds/Animal Noises” phase.
Do all children go through this, or is it just mine? Now, I have never personally known someone who had been diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, so I don’t know exactly what that struggle looks like. But I imagine it as something like this phase. For a long while, my son would just randomly “moo” for no apparent reason. We took a brief family vacation during this phase, which involved all of us sleeping in one hotel room. I kid you not, this child was moo-ing in his sleep. When the moo-ing finally ceased, my joy was short-lived. It was immediately followed by random screams of “pizza!” Unfortunately, these shout-outs were almost never in response to a query about what my son wanted to eat.
5. The “Hoarding” phase.
I am not entirely convinced that this is a phase, rather than just my child’s personality. Because it has gone on for A WHILE. However, I distinctly remember waking up one morning, and the suggestion to throw something away was profanity. I can understand how throwing away your child’s artwork could be perceived as an act of betrayal, but I’m talking about actual bona fide garbage. Popped balloons, twist-ties, remnants of our last Hello Fresh box…you name it. My child is currently hoarding it in his room.
I don’t have any teenagers yet, so I know that there are a whole lot of phases still waiting for me. But when you feel like you are channeling Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, know that you are not alone. Odds are good that you will laugh about this someday.
What have been YOUR least favorite silly (or not-so-silly) childhood phases?