“Let me tell you the truth: So far, almost every single one of their phases have fazed me”
“How do you do it? You have your hands so full with your boys, yet you always seem so unfazed!”
This was an actual statement made by my son’s wonderful kindergarten morah last month. I smiled at her, leaned in, and said, “Let me tell you the truth: So far, almost every single one of their phases have fazed me.”
And the more I think about it, the more I remember the many ways my children have kept me on my toes until now. This very minute, I’m only pretending to know what I’m doing, but I can assure you that parenting is the type of thing I can only improve at with experience, so I just do my best until enough experience has turned into some form of wisdom. (Sorry, oldest child.)
For starters, I went through the Child Learning To Talk Phase, which is both a joy and a delight, as each new word spoken is an obvious act of genius, and assured me that I was raising a future valedictorian.
And then, when I least expected it, because I was sure I’d done a good job explaining to my children who they can and cannot talk to, I end up crashing headfirst into the Talking To Strangers phase.
If you ask them, my children have never met a stranger. They introduce themselves to anyone who passes: neighbors, construction workers, and motorists.
I explained the concept of Stranger Danger.
They seemed to understand.
I taught them the Don’t Talk To Strangers song.
They loved it.
And then one day my four-year-old walked off toward the neighbor’s gardener, and as I ran after him, he looked back at me and calmly explained, “It’s okay, Mommy. I’m just going to sing him the Don’t Talk To Strangers song.”
My other son assured me that since he had already told the cashier his name, she’s no longer a stranger. In fact, they’re on a first-name basis with each other, so I shouldn’t worry because this was not the Stranger Danger thing we’d talked about in the past.
I have to admit that that particular phase fazed the daylights out of me for some time.
Another milestone I reached as a parent was to automatically and constantly point out things of interest to my children when we were out together. “Look! It’s a garbage truck / construction truck / train!”
I’d do it so often that I found myself shouting, “Hey! Does everyone see that huge construction truck?” while out driving or walking alone. It made going out in public an opportunity for incredible awkwardness. (Other adults do not care about construction trucks. I know this now.)
In any case, that was before my experience turned into wisdom, because at this point in my life, the very last thing I would ever do would be to point out something to my children if either we or the fascinating thing was in a moving vehicle. Because were I to alert my children to the presence of, say, a fire truck, only one child would manage to look up in time and in the right direction in order to catch a glimpse of the truck while the other kids would miss it completely, and then my car is full of hysterical kids who insist that, “If we follow the fire truck really fast right now then we would also be able to see it!”
You can see how that might faze someone.
As my kids get older, they become more independent, which I understand is one of the goals of parenting. But it’s a real balancing act. Yes, I want my child to go forth and find his passion and chase his dreams and feel that he can accomplish whatever he puts his mind to.
On the other hand, I came across my six-year-old one summer afternoon, looking for something as his bungalow colony friends waited nearby. When I asked him what he was looking for he replied, “I’m looking for a hammer.”
“Yes. Or that other thing that’s sharp on one side.”
“You mean a PICKAX?”
“Yeah. I’m looking for a hammer or a pickax.”
He sighed, slightly frustrated at having to explain things to someone (me) not involved in the planning of the day’s activity and said, “We want to break down the door to the big pool.”
“Oh. Sure. Glad you explained. You have a creative vision, and you’re trying to see it through. Let me help you out with that. Absolutely zero chance of you getting your hands on either a hammer or a pickax. At all. Ever.”
If I could only explain the level of nonchalance that was going on here as he calmly and matter-of-factly informed me that he:
- wanted to do some freelance demolition so that he could
- gain access to an unsupervised deep water pool
as if this were a brilliant idea that I would totally get behind.
I’m truly sorry for squashing my son’s hopes and dreams that day but his Creative Independent Phase had fazed me to the extent that I needed a while to recover from that one.
There are approximately 385 more stages that my children have grown through so far, making me consider giving each stage its own chapter in a handy Parenting Guidebook that I’m thinking about writing, titled How to Be Okay with Being Continuously Fazed by Your Children’s Phases. You can look for it in a bookstore near you as soon as I have a spare minute to write it.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 803)
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