Phasing It Out


What's really weird about watching Small Humans grow into slightly larger humans is the weird phases that they go through. I've watched The Small phase in some weird new 'thing' that's caused me to wonder whether she's actually of the human race, only to see it disappear two weeks later, so many times now that you would think I would be used to it. I'm not. As if that wasn't weird enough, I'm starting to realise that all Small Humans phase weird behaviour in and out and what's more it's often the SAME weird behaviour. So many of my friends with Small Humans have reported the same phenomenon so what the fuck is it about buggy clips or throwing food or the word 'mine' that seems to be ingrained in their DNA?

When the Small was about 6 or 7 months she started doing this weird grunting, pushing, gurning noise. It was, quite simply, the most irritating and disconcerting noise I'd ever heard. It appeared to be borne of frustration, necessity and pain. I hated it. It made me want to poke my eyes out with white hot needles and serve them up to myself for dinner in a sauce of old man goo and bin juice. I can't quite explain why it got to me so much but after two weeks she just stopped doing it. Just like that. With not explanation or apology for the excruciating fourteen or so days that had just passed.

Ten months later, I visited a friend and heard her 6 or 7 month old make exactly the same goddam noise. Of course, she wasn't my Small Human so I didn't have the same emotional and phyiscal reaction to it but I remember being weirded out that this 'noise' was something important. It was clearly a 'thing'. I don't really read books about babies and what they do month by month because I think it takes the fun out of figuring it all out but, I can only assume that it's some sort of speech, vocal development phase which, when I think about it is pretty cool but doesn't make the thought of that noise any more appealing.

Then there is the other stuff: the sudden obsession with buggy clips. This seems like something so exterior, so other to the Small Human, that not for a minute did I think that this was a universal obsession. In fact, it's so much of an obsession that they have brought out a toy dedicated to the Small Humans' love of clips. A best seller on Amazon nonetheless. Who would have thunk it?

There's the throwing perfectly good food onto the floor which, apparently, is called Casting. According to Tovah Klein, Ph.D., director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development, in New York City this is all about developing awareness of cause and effect. She tells us that Small Humans throw things on the floor because they know we'll pick them up - it allows them to explore their power which sucks for my Small because I pretty quickly started ignoring it. The rug however, couldn't ignore it and, to this day, there are red, spaeghetti sauce stains that testament to this particular phase.

Following Casting comes the regurgitating phase. Ok, she doesn't actually swallow it before depositing it, unceremoniously, back on her plate but she'll spend an age masticating it and then dribble it slowly and deliberately down from whence it came no matter who we have as dinner guests. At first I thought this was a tactic of impatience. "You can go and play with Playdoh when you've finished what you've got in your mouth." Cue immediately evacuation of what she had in her mouth in the name of Playdoh. Then, it just started happening mid meal. The real fun comes when, about five minutes later, she goes back to it and just pops in the chewed up mess and swallows it without a care in the world.

The 'mine' phase has been my all-time favourite (sarcasm noted). It's been particularly enhanced by the fact that we've been staying with friends who have a boy who is thirteen months older than Billie. Sharing has been a bone of contention between the two resulting in about 314 timeouts between the two of them, 25 tantrums, 13 momma-shaped headaches, 5 shoves with intent, 4 kicked shins, a bumped head and oh, I'd say, about five bottles of wine?

In the face of tangible strength and power coming from a boy just over a year older, Billie has started to really assert her will when it comes to something she is playing with. No longer is 'mine' just enough. Now she must scream it in the offending Small Human's face which is about as fun as a Chinese burn and as embarrassing as your mother-in-law discovering your secret drawer of sex toys.

(Totally NOT drawing on personal experience for that one. Obvs.)

My (rather long and drawn out points are) that a) Small Humans go through many weird and varied and sometimes unfathomable phases and b) these are just phases. No matter what your Small Human is doing to wind you up...remember the one truth amidst this whole world of craziness: this too shall pass.