by Lindsey Gray
You’re bound to have heard it over and over again. Your children are driving you to distraction, there is a dark cloud of depression threatening to move in with you, and you’d rather watch re-runs of This Is Your Life than hear another tired old cliche. That’s when someone pops up and says “it’s just a phase”.
The awful thing is, they’re right. We’ve had years of them with our first son, yes, singletons have their phases too, just not as many as multiples. I thought it might be useful to introduce some of them to you, so that you can greet each new phase like a long-awaited visit from a friend (one who’s hopefully not going to stay too long or trash your house beyond recognition).
- Food Phase. My identical boys Alex and Toby would eat anything when it was mush from the Moulinex, but once on to solid finger foods wouldn’t touch anything off a spoon or fork. 4 years on and soup is still a definite no-no as are most sloppy foods but a breakthrough with pasta has meant the introduction of some successful sauces. Out of all the phases, I think the Food one probably lasts the longest. I believe it usually passes around the time of the child’s first divorce. Anyway around the same time as the twins were starting Food Phase, Oliver was heavily involved in Ritual Phase.
- Ritual Phase. As the name suggests Ritual Phase governs most areas of life, the order in which it proceeds or indeed if it proceeds at all (if not followed correctly). Items included in Ritual Phase were added daily. The choosing of the clothes, the cleaning of the teeth (breakfast was always a ritual, even before Ritual Phase came in), the tying of the shoelaces (THIS ONE FIRST), the opening of the door, the riding the tricycle down to nursery, the opening of the nursery gate, the ringing of the nursery bell, the opening of the nursery door, the totally ignoring parent as parent tries to blow kisses and say goodbye (I think that could have been life rather than phase) etc. Ritual Phase came and went and was shortly followed by Wide Awake At 4am Phase.
- Wide Awake at 4am Phase didn’t last long, thank goodness. Where it came from no-one knows, there was no change to routine, bedtime, e-numbers, etc. But Wide Awake at 4am was definitely a phase to be reckoned with. Perhaps the reason they were waking so early was that they simply couldn’t wait to go and climb up car phase.
- Car phase. When we lived in Scotland we got a big old Landrover. Big old mistake. By age of two, the boys found they could climb up onto the front bumper by grabbing the radiator grill, from where they could haul up themselves up on to the bonnet, and with a little help from the windscreen wipers, could end up on the roof, 7 foot above ground level. Not only that but the roof has a bit of spring, as taut metal does, and it made a great sound when you jumped up and down. Had one of them fallen off it would have been the long 50 mile race to A&E (which fortunately we haven’t had to do YET). Nothing we could do would deter them, the only way of stopping them would have been to not let them outside at all. Not an option. I eventually discouraged them from going up on to the roof by adding a robust yellow slide off the bonnet (the leftovers of a beautiful wooden playfort which was blown over in one of our “light breezes”). It looked particularly odd and did leave a few dints and dents (especially when you forgot to take it off before driving away!) but did the trick. Car phase slowly chugged away but just around the corner was door phase.
- Door phase. See a door, open it. That’s pretty much the key to door phase. Cupboard doors, car doors, room doors, wardrobe doors, they had to be opened. And shut. And opened again. And shut. All I remember from door phase is going round to a friends house and her turning to me (after only a few minutes) and saying “OH MY GOD – I see what you mean about the door thing!!!” Fortunately door phase slammed shut (though not before door phase and car phase met with one of the boys fingers in the middle – ouch!), and we were into the bloodyell phase.
- Bloodyell phase would have been over much quicker, indeed may not have even evolved into a fully fledged phase had not No.1 son reacted quite so strongly when it was first mentioned. For those in the dark, bloodyell is a 3yr old’s impression of Ron Weasley in Harry Potter, and for knowledgeable 7 yr olds, it is swearing. 3yr old twins learn bad words very quickly when their 7yr old brother cracks up with mock-horror every time they are uttered. Amusingly, it became a noun : “You Bloodyell, you!”, a verb : “I will Bloodyell you!” as well as the usual blasphemy “well Bloodyell then”. If they could get it in, they would. I had to tell all the other mothers at Nursery so that if their children starting with such language they would know who to blame. Ron Weasly, of course!
And on it goes:
- Nappy phase,
- potty phase,
- sucky (dummy) phase,
- Power Rangers Wildforce Phase, etc etc.
We are still slowly poking at food phase, pushing it around our plate with no intention of eating it. So wherever you are, whatever is happening, please remember that you’re not alone and repeat the mantra “IT’S JUST A PHASE, IT’S JUST A PHASE!”