What They Didn’t Tell Me As A Parent: Kids Go Through Phases


They don’t tell you a lot of things when you have a kid. Actually, nobody really tells you anything except: “HERE, HAVE THIS BABY.” If you’re lucky they give you pointers on how to feed it (breast milk, formula, cheetos), how to clothe it (diapers, superhero outfit, robotic exoskeleton), how to get it to sleep (lullabies, bourbon, veterinary pharmaceuticals). You can, if you ask, find out a whole lot about the basic biological needs and functions. Early on and even through toddlerdom you gain a great deal of knowledge about poop. Look, shape, consistency. How it begins in infancy as some kind of black X-Files tar, how it smells at first like buttered popcorn but later stinks like the leavings of an adult drunk who just ate a dozen egg rolls, how there are colors to watch out for (green, red, paisley, technicolor, pulsating starlight).

But when it comes to intellectual and emotional development, I’ve found that the information there is considerably more scarce — or, at least, a whole lot less certain. Mostly, you just have to roll with it. You go through all the crazy whackaloon shit you get with having a two-year-old toddler. Then they become threenager monkey-demons with the hormonal surge you thought was left only to pubescent thirteen-year-olds. You take each day as it comes.

Thing is, each day has this way of feeling like forever. Especially when they seem to repeat, ala Groundhog Day. And that’s one of the things they don’t necessarily tell you, or at least, nobody told me. (Or maybe I just wasn’t listening — never discount the possibility that when somebody was trying to explain something to me I was staring off at the middle distance thinking about sex, cake, video games, pie, sex, cookies, or how one day we’re all going to die.)

We often measure our children’s early lives in months — “Oh, he’s six months, he’s eighteen months, he’s 312 months.” But you can also measure their existence in phases. Our kid goes through these phases and while they’re happening, they feel like forever. They feel like, this is who he is instead of this is who he is right now. You get used to a certain phase as awesome or scary or weird as that stage may be, and then one day it’s just — poof, it’s over. And you almost miss it. They’ve moved on, and even if it was a phase that drove you to drink a six-pack of wine coolers a day in a dark downstairs bathroom, you might miss it, too.

I don’t know what phases your kids have gone through or will go through, but I thought: “Hey, maybe I’ll write down some of B-Dub’s phases.” Just for a lark and a larf.

So here I present to you: ten of B-Dub’s most notable phases.

The Eon Of Marshmallow Cereal

Our kid, he eats pretty all right. He’s some kinda weirdo who eats his vegetables first. He’ll eat stuff that I wouldn’t have touched as a kid: mushrooms, kale, avocado. But there was a point where the only thing he wanted for breakfast was marshmallow cereal. Like, Lucky Charms, except we’re those hipster crunchy hippie assholes who have to buy the kind without artificial colors and high-fructose-corn-syrup and whatever? That.

We’d try to expand his horizons, we’d make eggs and pancakes and French Toast but if he didn’t get marshmallow cereal, it was fucking Thunderdome in our kitchen. He was like a nuclear reactor with all the safety protocols gone to shit: a nation-destroying meltdown. You hit this grave realization where as a parent you think, “Eventually someone’s going to come and take our child away from us because at this point we cannot get him to eat a healthy, proper breakfast to save his life. They’re going to give him to another family who won’t buy marshmallow cereal. We have made a monster. We are terrible parents.” And then one day, months later, it’s over. Like birth contractions over a much longer period, they come and then they go. Now he eats diversely again (though there was a very short pancake surge).

He has not asked for marshmallow cereal in months.

The Days Of The Transformers

Everything was trucks until it wasn’t — then it was trucks that become robots. One day, B-Dub couldn’t give two rat pubes about Transformers. The next, they were the best thing ever. (I’m lookin’ at you, Rescue Bots.) Everything was Bumblebee and Heatwave and Ironhide and he would be those character and he would make them out of Duplo blocks and every mundane object he picked up — pillow, fork, cement block, piece of dog poop, brick of uranium — he pretended was a Transformer even if he had a perfectly good Transformer toy within reach.

The bonus? Pretending to be Bumblebee or Optimus Prime gave him confidence to do things like they would: heroically and with great robotic panache. And shit, I was excited, too! I loved Transformers as a kid. And so for Christmas we bought a bunch of cool Transformers gear and lined up to give him his new presents and — the boat left, and we were not on the boat. The Days of Transformers were over. Transformers all diminished, and went into the West. He was… y’know, excited enough, I guess…

But the All Spark had gone dark.

Everything Is Coming Up Minecraft

Now, it’s Minecraft.

I know that right now, Minecraft is basically Heroin For Children, but just the same, I expected that Wee Little B-Dub was too young for it — and by the time he was old enough for it, the Small Person Zeitgeist would’ve moved onto something else. But, oh no. He saw me playing it and wanted to try — and we were like, “No, son, it’s too hard, and there are zombies, and — you’re going to embarrass yourself, and nobody wants that.” But he picked up the controller and within a few short days basically owned the game. He was playing it better than I was. Doubly awesome was how much he glommed onto the Creative Mode, which he treats like Digital LEGO. (Below, you’ll see a thing he built where one day he was like, “Look, I built Mommy, Daddy, and me!” Okay, sure, our family portrait comprises a trio of horrific pumpkin-headed wool-bodied scarecrows, but I’m a horror guy so I thought it was pretty damn amazing.)

As with the Transformer phase, this wasn’t just him wanting to play the game. This was him embodying the entire experience like an obsessive little sponge. He was Steve. He was a zombie. You’d find him around the house pretending to chip iron ore out of our drywall. He wanted the toys. The LEGO sets. The YouTube videos. Every day was like a Minecraft improv group: “Mommy, you be an Enderman. Daddy, you’re a zombie. I’m Diamond Steve. Let’s go.” This phase is guttering like an old candle, now: I think we’ll soon be out of it.

But one never knows.

The Curious George Era

We have watched every episode of Curious George about four million fucking times.

Apiece.

We have memorized whole swaths of this show — not through concerted effort, but merely through experiential osmosis. My wife and I have pondered over this cartoon — a ‘toon that prominently features what I think must be chimpanzee that they call a monkey instead of an ape, a show that begs us to ask questions like: “If this so-called monkey cannot properly put a xylophone together or tell the time and if he screws everything up always, why do the Only Three Scientists In The World let him go on important space missions or polar expeditions? And at what point does Curious George finally go through Monkey Puberty and maul the Man with the Yellow Hat in some sort of sexed-up ape-rage? And can’t we just admit that the Man with the Yellow Hat is a little over-invested about this whole everything has to be yellow thing?”

(Seriously, even his underpants have to be yellow.)

Our son asks none of these questions and simply adores watching the antics of this funny monkey. Unlike other phases, B-Dub hasn’t gone all in — this is not a supernova phase where Everything Is George Until It’s Not. Only the show and the books are George but otherwise it affects his life not at all. Except when it comes time to watch something on the television: then nine times out of ten, he defaults to this show about a toddler-analog monkey who screws everything up lovably. Because, one realizes, toddlers and monkeys are alarmingly alike.

This phase has been ongoing since he was tiny.

The Developmental Contractions

Children grow intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially.

That sounds awesome. And it is — or, at least, the result is.

But again, another thing they don’t tell you? These stages of growth are often accompanied by utter tumult. They don’t tell you that to get to the next stage of development — to put on an inch in height or to upgrade to the next level of intelligence — your kid has to first become some kind of hangry rampaging werewolf. He might stop sleeping. He might wake up at 3AM every night for two weeks. He might start eating three plates of food at dinner, or he might instead start fighting every bite he has to take. He might engage in SUPER-TANTRUMS, which are like regular tantrums except the earth splits and he shrieks ball lightning out of his mouth and people goddamn die. He might sleep extra-long and you’re standing outside his door at 10AM wondering, “Is he alive in there?” It’s like, to become a butterfly he doesn’t need to enter a cocoon so much as he needs to become an over-emotional, unpredictable velociraptor. And the velociraptor has a saddle and in the saddle is a honey badger, and also, the honey badger is high on bad cocaine.

These contractions are short-lived. A day here, two weeks there, then done and gone. But they’re like bad storms from which emerge beautiful, sunny days.

The I Can Help / Mommy Can Do It Continuum

The best worst thing your Tiny Person will say is:

“I can help you.”

It’s best because, yay! You’re kind! You want to help! You’re a nice little creature!

It’s worst because your child is not qualified to help anybody do anything ever. They’re just — they’re functionally worthless. He has no skills. He can’t cook or clean but he thinks he can cook or clean. His only marketable ability is to — like the monkey-ape known as Curious George — wreak well-meaning havoc. But it’s still a nice stage and mostly you just let him help you and try your best to correct his efforts without punishing them. “I’m glad you threw the cat in the dryer because the cat was wet from knocking over its water bowl, that’s very good thinking and thank you for helping but hey, just for future reference, animals do not go inside appliances. Any animal inside any appliance. Ever.”

The opposite of this phase is when he goes through a period of not wanting to do anything, ever. The most wretched version is when Only One Parent Has Been Chosen By His Emperor, The Magnanimous B-Dub, to perform any and every given task. “NO, MOMMY HAS TO TAKE THE CEREAL BOWL. NO, ONLY MOMMY CAN HELP ME DRAW. ONLY MOMMY CAN HELP ME HIDE THE BODIES IN THE PUMPKIN PATCH AHHHHHH.” It’s like, jeez, kid.

But this too shall pass.

It shall always pass.

The Sweet, Sad Season Of Our Passed-On Poochie

Our taco terrier passed away this past year. It was hard on all of us as it always is and always will be, but this time we had the added random factor of hey so how well do toddlers deal with death –? I know I don’t deal well with death both real and imagined and I ostensibly have a better-developed emotional switchboard. But we faced it head on and didn’t sugar coat it and tried to be very clear that, yes, the dog had died, and that means she is gone forever. But the kid dealt with it like a champ, literally telling us that she is still here because can “remember her” (I swear to all the gods that he said this — a lesson even we adults could stand to learn).

Then, about three months after she passed away, B-Dub started talking about her. Sometimes like she was still around or coming back. Sometimes like he was her — at one point he pretended to be her and said, “I’m sick.”

So we said, “We’ll give you medicine.”

“The medicine won’t make me feel better,” he said.

And then we swept up the pieces of our broken hearts with a broom and dustpan.

But over time he gained control of it — and there ensued a period of time when Everything Was Our Old Dog. Every stuffed animal, every toy new and old, every conversation. Over time that softened, and now he brings her up occasionally. I’m guessing this phase was a vital one just to help him deal with the loss.

Phases can have that kind of value. Maybe that’s the value they always bring: helping your fumbling little weirdos figure out how to deal with the rigors of existence.

The I-Can’t-Poop Epoch

“I can’t poop,” he says, one day.

It had been three days since his last dropped deuce.

“Why not?”

“Because it’ll hurt.”

“Did it hurt last time?”

“No.”

“Did it hurt at some point in the past?”

“No.”

Blink, blink. “So why do you think it’ll hurt now?”

“I don’t know it just will.”

Ahh, the logic of the tiny person. When pressed, he further explained:

“My poop is old and I don’t like this poop anymore, so I will not poop.”

Uh. What.

This week has suggested an end to the phase — but man, has this one been A CEASELESS DELIGHT. You know what happens when your Little Person fails to dump his biological garbage? It backs up. It makes him cranky. He does dances that he identifies as his “poop dances,” which are interpretive dances that you should interpret as, “I have to poop but I don’t want to so I’m going to spasm in an inelegant way in order to try to coerce the poop to never leave my butt.” Then he gets skidmarks in his underwear and you start having to have frank discussions about WHY HUMANS NEED TO EXPEL WASTE without at the same time creating some kind of psychological condition and fear about the entire act (IF YOU DON’T TAKE A CRAP YOU WILL FILL UP WITH CRAP AND THEN YOU’LL JUST BE A CRAP GEYSER PLEASE ENJOY THE RESULTANT NIGHTMARES OH AND DON’T FORGET TO FEAR YOUR HORRIBLE, PURGATIVE BODY).

We tried lightly incentivizing — you don’t want to over-incentivize because if he thinks that simple, necessary acts can net him a new toy or a pony ride or some shit, he’ll push that button every time. So, it’s mostly a little bit of chocolate. (As the aforementioned crunchy hippie hipster douche-dumplings, we buy him these no funky coloring choco-rocks that taste better than M&Ms and have a perfect texture.) But the best incentive, I think, is celebrating when he goes.

Which means that whenever our kid takes a crap, we all clap and applaud and have a grand old time. YAY, YOU POOPED, YOU PERFORMED ONE OF THE CORE TASKS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, LET’S ALL GATHER ROUND AND MARVEL AT IT and then you marvel at it and his fecal leaving is about as big as the leg on a baby doll and your eyes bug and wonder exactly how this very small person produced this very large, adult-sized tugboat into his potty.

Needless to say, we’re glad this phase is over.

Even if we have to applaud our kid taking a dump.

To be honest, I now kinda wish people applauded when I did it.

The Police Boat And Bear Cycle

People don’t understand how fucking weird kids are.

Just fucking super ultra weird.

Like, I feel as if I’m weird, but then my son says or does something and you just want to ask, “What is wrong with you? Are you all right? Why did you say that thing? Are you human or some kind of alien intelligence pretending at being human?” (The other day at dinner he knocked on his head with his knuckles. We asked, “Why are you knocking on your head?” His response: “I’m just seeing who answers.” As if a praying mantis might explode out.)

So, at night, we play for a short while in his bedroom before book-time. Stuffed animals and pretend and the like. Lately one of the things he insists on seeing is that we take his GIANT EPIC STUFFED BEAR (it’s bigger than he is) and then I drive one of my old Matchbox cars that looks like a police boat on and around the bear. The boat drives on his head, in his mouth, the bear stomps around like Godzilla with the boat riding shotgun, the boat flies out of his butt (that earns paroxysms of laughter) — it’s just weird. I don’t get it. I do not understand the appeal. Why do these things belong together? No idea. (Though I call dibs on turning this into a sitcom or hour-long action dramedy on FOX. Dibs, I say, dibs!)

(A related pre-bedtime playtime weirdness was how he would demand to take me or my wife and pile pillows and stuffed animals on top of us. He would call this “Janteen,” or alternatively, “Anteen.” He would find this so funny, he’d almost cry. I mean, what the shit, kid.)

One day he won’t do it anymore and this, like so many other phases, will fall to the wayside and find itself replaced with some new habit, hobby, obsession or fixation.

The HyperDrama Never Forever Phase

Here’s a new fun one:

Everything is super-dramatic when he doesn’t get his way.

Let’s say he wants to play a game or run around with his toys or leave the dinner table before he’s eaten his food — and we say “no” for some reason or another. Whatever the restriction, his response is incredibly dramatic and usually contains the words: “never again.”

“I’ll never ever get to play with my toys ever again. Forever.”

He’ll never watch that show again.

He’ll never be able to eat that food again.

He’ll never forever ever finish his dinner ever again ever ever ever.

Ever.

One time he was playing with a toy but I was busy doing something. He wanted me to play with him and I said, hold on, Daddy’s gotta do this really very important thing for work (translation: probably tweet something dumb). And B-Dub, without missing a beat, keeps his eyes on me and then takes the toy and goes and tosses it flippantly into the corner of the room. “I guess that goes there now,” he said. “I guess that’s… that’s just it. Just throw it in the trash. We’re never gonna play with that toy ever again.” It was this totally passive-aggressive vibe, all: “MIGHT AS WELL FLUSH THE WHOLE THING DOWN THE TOILET, THEN. THAT’S CIVILIZATION SORTED. IT’S ALL OVER NOW. I HAVE NO FATHER. ALL OF LIFE IS EMPTINESS SO LET’S DIE.”

So, this is the phase du jour. Utter melodrama.

Soon, it’ll be something else.

And then we’ll miss the ones that have gone past, odd as they may have been.

*pours a little apple juice on the curb for all the lost phases, weird and wonderful*


59 responses to “What They Didn’t Tell Me As A Parent: Kids Go Through Phases”

  1. As the mother of 15 and 18 year old boys, this brought back so many memories. Thank you for sharing. And I should prepare you too. You will have many interesting phases when your son becomes a teenager. ***insert evil grin of experience here***

  2. When my son was born, my mom shared this bit of parenting wisdom: “There will be tears. There will always be tears. But there’s no rule that says they have to your tears.” She used a modified version of this on my sister and me when we were growing up. It went like this: “Somebody’s going to be crying in a minute, and it’s not going to be me.” There’s a lot of truth to this. There’s also a bit of unnecessary hard-ass nonsense for the sake of a good punchline… and that’s my mom.

  3. The weirdest part of potty training was celebrating the times my daughter went to the “big girl potty”… when other people were at our house. Not because we looked strange. Those friends understood, “hey, these people are trying to raise a tiny human to be continent and capable of controlling her bodily functions in a clean and socially acceptable manner. Whatever works for them.”

    But my daughter would be crestfallen if THEY didn’t celebrate, too. Like, why is it just Mommy and Daddy? Are they blowing smoke up my ass about this? Uncle Brian isn’t impressed and Aunt Nicki is just sitting there knitting. What the fuck? Why do I bother?

    So it started being a thing where when she would go to the bathroom, we’d have to explain to our guests, “No, when she comes out you dance and celebrate like it’s goddamn New Years Eve, do you understand me?”

    Weird times.

    Another phase my daughter went through…. DORA. She didn’t watch the show, but she had ONE book and the website games. Dora became her imaginary best friend. She slept over at our house all the time. Then, one day, the kiddo became inconsolable because she couldn’t visit Dora’s house. Like wailing sobs, the world is ending, hysterical bawling.

    Her imaginary friend now is Link from Legend of Zelda.

    And WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THE MAN IN THE YELLOW HAT?!?! Why does no one question his crippling obsession with yellow or his odd relationship with a child-surrogate monkey?

    The best part of the PBS years? Lines that could be taken out of context.

    “Mr. Crab, get off that wood. Bob needs that wood.” – Bob the Builder.
    “Clifford, you lucky dog. Where are you going to bury that bone?” – Clifford the Big Red Dog.

    Seriously, there has been gold there. (Not as much as football commentary, but still fun.)

    • Saw an episode of Curious George the other day (2 yr old, 4 yr old. Don’t look at me like that) in which Mr Yellowpants dropped George and Allie at her house. Allie says, “Sorry you couldn’t buy those socks but I bet I know what color you would’ve picked. Bye.” So meta.

      Wait, he left a 5 yr old home alone with a monkey. Oh, well, I’m sure she’s fine.

      *Presses play on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes* “Hi, Caesar. Hi, Koba.”

  4. My boys are currently 2.5 and 4.5. What were we thinking? Together it’s like a madhouse, and the husband and I just kind of look at each other over their heads like “what the hell is going on here?”

    Just keep repeating that it’s just a phase.

  5. OMG, yes. We notice the developmental phases the most, when the sleeping goes for a shit and she’s a surly little krakken devouring every last morsel of patience we have to offer. Her superhero phase has been pretty consistent, though, evolving from The Incredibles to The Avengers with a current interest in Spider-Man. She also loves macabre things — monsters, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gaiman books, Doctor Who & daleks, playing with Halloween decorations all year long. We go through days on end of her wanting to just paint or just watch Dora (gah!) or just build blocks or just read books or just Skype with Grandma. But I thank my lucky pulsars that I seem to have one of the few little girls in the multiverse who hasn’t had a princess phase.

  6. I have 3 boys under 5. So, yes. To all of this.

    Btw, why are Pixar and Nickelodeon so adept at taking our money? It’s all about Ninja Turtles and Lightening McQueen over here, though Thomas is steadily gaining. And this Netflix show called Larva is their Curious George. It’s the perfect mix of Ren and Stimpy and Looney Tunes.

  7. Ah, yes! When all my daughter would wear were flip-flops. In the middle of freakin’ winter in NE Indiana. People judged me, but hey they weren’t my feet. And like I told my hubs, there are no major organs in the feet. And now at 12, she WILL NOT wear flip-flops. I’m just along for the ride.
    Hysterical post, because life is funny

  8. The last time my nephew was here he was in the “no, not ever any more” phase as well. There is some sort of bizarre satisfaction I got as an adult when he would do whatever he was “never not any more” going to do again anyway. Which really is my problem, I suppose.

    Husband and I are having a boy in May, and hoooooboy are we looking forward (albiet with terror) to these shenanigans.

  9. They like trains in general, so I think talking trains=mind blown. That’s how they got onto Cars and Planes.

    My husband was telling me the other night that the lives of the train conductors on Sodor would make a damn good horror story. They’re completely at the mercy of sentient, childish trains.

  10. Ha! Love this, Chuck.
    Santa brought my 8-year-old a laptop. What the hell was he thinking? Now every waking minute is filled with begging (to play on the laptop) and denying (trying to keep my kid a kid). While I aim to keep her unplugged, at least for a reasonable amount of the day, I’m secretly wishing this phase will end. And that maybe the laptop will self destruct. Fingers crossed!

    Dee Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth and GOT

    • I totally sympathise – I had exactly the same problem with my son. Are you running Windows on the laptop? If so, Parental Controls are your friend. I made my son his own account on the computer he uses, so I could control the hours he was able to use it. There’s an option under the Parental Controls menu that lets you set times when the computer will automatically log itself off; I’ve set my son’s account so it won’t log on before 9am in the morning (on weekdays he’s in school by 8:45, so that solves the problem of trying to drag him away from the computer in time to get to school) and to log him off automatically at 6pm every night (he’s home from school at 4pm so that limits his computer time to 2 hours maximum on schooldays.) I did it that way because I couldn’t face the battle of wills of trying to drag him off the thing every night – “In a minute mum, I just gotta do this one thing…” Now it just goes ‘poof!’ and there’s not a thing he or I (or so I’ve told him) can do about it. A lot of other parents at his school think I’m pretty harsh, and maybe I am… but he’s got enough LEGO in his room to start his own theme park and he quite happily goes and plays with that instead when the computer’s not available.

  11. Every now and then my daughter will randomly say “Daddy’s mommy died. She’s dead. Daddy’s mommy died.” It’ll inevitably some variant of that. I have no clue where it comes from. My mom died of Pancreatic Cancer well before she was even born, basically when my wife and I first started dating in college. She still says it though.

    Thanks kid. Thanks for twisting that little poison laced dagger.

    • My kid will sometimes tell total strangers that his great-grandpa died. Which is true. Great-Grandpa *did* die. In 1992. Eighteen years before my son was born.

      It’s somewhat difficult to get through all of the “Oh my God, I’m so sorries,” to say “no really guys it’s okay, this is not a recent event…”

  12. Enveloped in an almost unknown and wonderful warmth and, at the same time, feeling (for a while at least) less punished by our cold and inscrutable universe… I breath and sigh of strange happiness and think that perhaps, “gay IS good.”

    Then, I wander off to find a cold beer and wonder how long the warm fuzzies of this lovely post are going to last.

  13. Absolutely hysterical and spot on. I have a nineteen year old and twin nine year olds, all boys, and yes I am ceritfiable, and we too are in the midst of a Minecraft clusterfuck. But I remember the tantrums that lasted two hours and the obsession with certain stuffed animals (still ongoing) and the Mommy only days very well. Fortunately they have transferred all that attention to their big brother who walks on water. Who earned this adoration, by the way, by feeding them the gaming bug as sure as shit will back up in a toddler. I’m sending this to all the moms of our nine year olds. Awesome.

  14. Oh yeah, to every single one of these phases for my son! (Except swap Curious George for Pingu. If I ever see another chuffin’ Pingu episode ever again in my life *gnashes teeth*…) Thank you Chuck, for giving me the biggest laugh-cry of my week so far. Oh, and – the Minecraft thing? It only gets deeper, I’m afraid. Mine’s eight now, and has just discovered the ‘joys’ of playing Minecraft with his best friend on a Skype connection…

    Which also compels me to offer you a heads-up… he’s just hit a phase I will only describe as “my willy is the most AWESOME thing in the universe, and mummy must witness its awesomeness RIGHT NOW!” I’d be more worried about it, but my sister told me her son went through the exact same thing at the exact same age. Tell your good lady to prepare herself..!

  15. This had me laughing, and I don’t even have kids. But I’ve lived some of it vicariously through my nieces and nephews.

    I remember when one of my nieces went through the “mommy has to do it” stage. My poor brother. He’s an MD, so quality time with the girls was/is something he looked/looks forward to at the end of the work day. Reading a bedtime story and tucking her in was *his* special ritual with Cait each night.

    Until the dreaded “Noooooo. Mommy has to do…” stage.

    It passed, but boy oh boy, some kids really do go through that stage where they’re little gender role Nazis. It’s particularly pernicious with dual career parents who share housework and child care equally etc. If the kid sees even one book or one cartoon with traditional gender roles for like five seconds, suddenly they’re all “Mommies cook and daddies wrestle rhinos!”

  16. My son is 40. Forty. He still goes thru stages. Thank God, the refusal to poop stage is not a current one.

  17. So true lol. This tickled me when I read it because it reminded me of my 3 year old grandson almost to the tee….all things Lego, Story, and fruit loops are his thing. I’m so sick of playing Buzz Lightyear after work lmao.

  18. Wow, did this take me back. Since I am developmentally frozen at the age of 2.75, I had a rather easier time than most dealing with the Phases of the Toddler Moon. And why can’t guests get up and cheer when their host’s two year old takes a dump? This is one phase that ALL parents go through. I say, let’s have each others backs on this, since we all know what the deal is without the need for prior discussion. My child rearing days are far behind me, but I’ll get on board for all you 20 and 30 somethings. Because believe it or not, these days are priceless, and you will miss them when their gone **waves as he gets in car to go bail 16 year old out of jail**

  19. I had almost forgotten about the weirdness of little kids (even though I work with them everyday). Talking about the weird stuff they think it’s hilarious; my oldest (who is now 26) used to think that the words “stinky feet” were about the funniest thing anyone could ever say. He would spend hours saying it and throwing himself around laughing his little heart out.
    He also went through a stage when he would not move if his shoe laces or any soft belt edges were hanging (not untied, just hanging). He would just stand wherever he was screaming his lungs out until I would tuck in the edges inside his shoes or inside his pockets. Needless to say, we moved into Velcro really quick.
    And let’s not even talk about the peanut butter and jelly phase…

  20. Oy. Yes. We’re definitely a binge-watching family, especially with so much of my kids’ entertainment from on-demand sources like Netflix. They get into one particular show and watch it on repeat until I bleed from the eyes and ears. Why is watching something on repeat cool as a kid but loathsome as an adult? Fortunately the phase passes eventually and you never have to see Dora or Diego or their stupid animal friends ever EVER again.
    lol

  21. I had to comment! I’ve just read and enjoyed (stalked) in the past but this time I had to say something. In the four or five years I’ve been reading blog posts, this is the best I’ve ever read, Chuck. I laughed. I cried. And I’ll be quoting the crap out of this thing for years to come, I’m sure. The first quote I took was, ‘Thing is, each day has this way of feeling like forever.’ I was seeing stars. Perfection! 🙂 You should write a book about parenthood. Man, I’d buy it.

  22. My beautiful little 4year old daughter had a ParaNorman phase. She still has a bit of a morbid thing going on. She invented a version of tag called “zombies” that the neighbor kids still play. She had an obsession with all ofvthe things 90s Goth kids thought were cool (except Invader Zim dammit) . We got a little concerned one day when she painted a picture of a horse and then slapped it with a red paint covered hand and exclaimed “now it’s dead.” We then saw The Croods and felt better.

    In general we think it would be pretty funny if this phase were permanent

  23. i am not a parent but i do have a fantastic sister who is 6. she can now set up minecraft all by herself, she plays mario cart and sometimes wins. a few days ago she caught me talking about gandalf and asked questions, yesterday she had me reading the hobbit to her, she is also already a potterhead (my reader/writer/geeky heart is proud).

    mind you i think by the time she is 10 she will be beating me and my brother up in many games. its scary.

  24. The youngest of my three went through a stage when she was still a nappied crawler, and she had but a handful of baby words like ‘milk’ and ‘mama’. One day she got angry with her older sisters and started yelling ‘I AM THE QUEEN OF AFRICA!’ Which is really both unsettling and amusing coming from a once-near-speechless baby.

    She would do this when ever she got frustrated, but I have yet to nail the kiddy story or movie or whatever diabolical media stream responsible for sowing this gem. If anyone has any bright ideas from whence it came, just speak up.

  25. The Curious George debate is huge at our house. My husband has a theory that George is actually some sort of exceptional child who insists everyone treat him like a monkey…but everyone now and then someone will refer to his monkey-ness and poke holes. We want to know where The Man in the Yellow Hat is getting all his dough. And when is he going to get together with the lady scientist? The Christmas special is deeply ingrained in our family consciousness. Let’s not get into the psychology behind the fucked up trains on the Island of Sodor.

    • My husband’s Curious George theory is that George is in fact a 3 year old whose mother died at birth (aka “MITYH ‘found’ him in the jungle”) and pretending his child is a monkey is the only way the Man can cope.

      Apparently there are a lot of us out there who are concerned about George and The Man. 🙂

  26. No Star Wars phase? For shame. My oldest was addicted to Star Wars for years. Star Wars birthdays, Star Wars sheets on the bed, Star Wars toys (which I didn’t mind at all since I still have my Star Wars toys from when I was a kid at my mom’s house), and my oldest is a girl. She took fandom to a new level knowing every character, planet, machine, and so on. She has moved on to all things Zelda, and my youngest has taken on the Star Wars obsession.

    For the longest time (pre Star Wars era) it was all things Dora. We watched so much of that I came up with the theory that Dora isn’t just a curious kid, but the child of a drug lord and Dora is showing signs of residual narcotic intake. Think about it, her parents are uninvolved with her, there is all this land she roams around on, and her best friend is a talking monkey. She has adventures with Boots while dealing with other talking and singing animals and inanimate objects. Don’t get me started about the freeloading cousin Diego. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

    I did enjoy the binge watching of Phineas and Ferb.

    Regardless of how weird their obsessions get it’s still part of growing up. I won’t go into the weird things I thought were cool when I was a kid, but seeing your own child doing what they do is both fun and worthy of pulling out your hair. Enjoy them, because even standing out in the cold waiting for the school bus will be a thing that is missed later on in life.

    • We have tried with STAR WARS, but hasn’t taken yet. (Though he’s not quite four, yet, so there’s plenty of time.)

      He is quite fond of the Jawas, though, and will sometimes exclaim: “Ootini!”

  27. This is so helpful. I’ve seen a few of these stages with my 4-year-old.

    The marshmallow cereal eon… yep. I forced the end of this eon by refusing to buy anymore of it once he decided to eat only the marshmallows and leave the cereal.

    We’ve definitely had the Curious George phase, but also the Bubble Guppies phase, the Paw Patrol phase, the Team Umizoomi phase, Cars, Planes.

    The tractors/gators/excavators/dump trucks/etc phase. He knows them all by name. He knows how they all work.

    The will not poop phase. Ugh. Still in that one. So annoying.

    The “you do it”-“I want to do it by myself” phase. Anything he is capable of doing on his own (e.g. eating, dressing) he wants mommy to do for him. Anything he really could use help with (e.g. pouring juice from a big bottle to a small cup, flipping pancakes) he wants to do all by himself.

  28. I have four sons, ages fifteen, seventeen, nineteen and twenty-one. This post was a delightful gift, Chuck. Thank-you!!!

    The phases are never ending, as is the insanity! Especially when you are a hippie wanna-be organic granola crunching free range parenting mom like me, with neurodiverse kids like mine! (neurodiverse, you know…. people) The insanity and phases are wild and fantastical!

    Thanks again for this trip down memory lane!!

    Oh, ya, also my thirty-two year old brother is severely autistic and everyone (including neighbors and friends) dance and celebrate when he has a healthy poop that makes it into (rather than onto) the toilet! He loves the celebrations and happily pulls us into the bathroom to show off his skills.

    I’d forgotten that celebrating poop is kind of weird.

  29. There are times when I walk through the grocery store and I hear mothers saying stuff like, “Oh, I’m so glad you want to help Mommy shopping and it’s very nice that you put 37 packages of beef jerky in the cart all by yourself, but that’s more than we need so let’s put some back OK, sweetie?” I remember vividly when my days were full of those kinds of interactions and I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

    But I miss the untattooed, unpierced child I used to have. She’s off in college now and I mostly hear from here when she needs money. That’s the downside of parenting. If you do your job right–read the Curious George books, sing “Daydream Believer” every night before bed, pester them about getting their science projects done, take that deep breath and give the sex talk, take an even deeper breath and let them get behind the wheel of your car–they grow up and leave. And even though it doesn’t seem like it, it all goes by so fast.

  30. My boys are 23 and 25, out of the house now. As I read your post, Chuck, I realized I’d almost forgotten about all of their crazy toddler shenanigans. So much so that lately I’ve been thinking how nice it will be to have grandchildren. Then I snapped out of it. Maybe I’ll just open up the bottle of gin and gulp some down without an olive to steady my nerves, because by god having read your stories and remembered everything, I am so NOT ready to do this shit over again. I need another five years at least.

  31. My wife and I are about 2 years behind the Wendigo clan with our child experiences. These forays into child-rearing wisdom here have been little nuggets of crunchy, hippy, no-chemical-dyes-or-high-fructose-corn-syrup. Thanks for that.

    I grew up in the 70s with weird little projector slide show versions of Curious George. I was compelled by the yellowness to tap this vein for my daughter. She refers to it as “Aah ah” (imagine a monkey, hands in armpits, tickling itself). We also have a cat named “Monkey”, so, hilarity and confusion ensue.

    The best part is William H Macy narrates something like the first 30 episodes. Rino Romano is a good second-string narrator, but it’s nothing like imagining ol’ Frank Gallagher shooting up, taking a big draw of 130-proof moonshine, and then telling his delinquent-in-training son a story about a man who fosters a monkey. Cuz, normal.

  32. Hilarious and oh so true stuff! As a father of a 40 year-old (I don’t know HOW in the HELL that happened!!) I have a piece of free advice/wisdom for you. When they’re kids it sometimes seems they are just going to be a kid forever. We all know better of course but while we’re dealing with all that kids stuff we kinda forget they’re relentlessly headed toward adulthood. So my advice I often give is this: Don’t waste too much time with “We’re gonna do this someday” or “As soon as we get some time were gonna go see this.” If there’s something you want to do with them, just do it because someday you’re going to look back and it’s going to be like, “Wow it would’ve been really cool if we had done this, but now he’s too old.” I know…it’s the old Cat’s In the Cradle song concept, but it’s really true and it all goes by fast while you’re busy with life. Life is some kind of trick!

  33. Love this! I was rolling!

    My daughter went through a phase where she wouldn’t eat hot dogs or pizza which meant she couldn’t eat at a kids birthday party. We had to bring our own stack of ham and cheese (because she also wouldn’t eat bread).

    Hostess were horrified and insulted, of course. As if we wanted to drag sandwich meat everywhere we went.

  34. Oh, don’t I know it. As a kindergarten teacher, it’s practically part of the interview the be able to recite any episode of Curious George verbatim. Since I teach English to Japanese kindergarteners, I have to also be able to translate it into Japanese. In real time.

    I had a five year-old student who asked to leave the class to use the washroom. When he hadn’t returned after five minutes I went to see what was up. I found him collapsed dramatically outside the door, without his pants. When asked why he was sitting with his naked butt on the hallway floor, he replied, “The toilet is too cold to poop on!” So I passed him off to the principal to avoid having the rest of the class dissolve into poop jokes and laughter. Apparently he spent another five minutes wandering pants-less in the reception area talking about the bane of cold toilet seats.

    Which is still not as strange as whichever child decided to leave poop nuggets all around the classroom like the world’s least desired Easter eggs.

  35. My daughter’s 4 & this is my life tho some details are different. For a while there the smoothness of our mornings was dependent on the red dippy cup with the blue top. We lived in fear.

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