How many times have you heard the phrase “it’s just a phase” or even said it yourself when dealing with a fussy baby or a toddler acting like a teenager? (threenagers are real and among us)
Often we mutter it to ourselves or others when they’re going through a rough patch with the child, or children as a way to acknowledge their tough spot or more-often than not, as a way to minimize their struggle. I want to challenge you to consider that often quoted phrase as an encouragement to sink into your current phase and find the good in it. It may not be easy, in fact you may be snickering and rolling your eyes at my suggestion, to sink into the troubled phase that you’re in the midst of and seek out the good in it. Trying to find the good in a difficult situation is tricky and often difficult, but the benefits of doing so can have ripple effects within your family life that are hard to see now, but may surface again later to your surprise and enjoyment.
Right now I have a kinder aged son, Munchkin, who’s all about wanting to create, draw and build with any source materials possible. He’s totally stoked that his Oma and Pa have said he and his sister will be getting a tree-house this summer. He’s so excited for the tree-house that he’s asked about it each and every time he’s seen them since the announcement a few weeks ago. His enthusiasm hasn’t been dampened by the almost constant raining and flash flood warnings happening around us. (yay Texas spring) He just wants his tree-house. This is a phase that could be grating and really annoying for us as parents, but I’m trying to sink in and find the good in it. He wants to spend time with his grandparents. He is okay with sharing the future tree-house with his sister (a HUGE plus in my book) and he wants to help to build it. I don’t know what that will end up looking like, but I hope he not only enjoys the build, but learns a lot as well; about himself and what he’s capable of as well.
His sister, Little Miss, is all about wanting to be a princess and having a long beautiful dress to complete the look is a bonus. She’s all about skirts, dresses and make believe. She also likes to act like a puppy complete with barking her part in our conversations too, so her imagination is off the charts. Sometimes her imagination is hard to overcome when she’s needing to do certain things, usually eating a meal and going to nap, but I try to work with her imagination instead of against it. It’s a tricky balance, but one I’m willing to try to find. If I’m trying to have a conversation with her as a puppy, I ask that she’s Little Miss and not Little Miss puppy for a brief time. It’s not always easy, but I don’t want to stifle her imagination and creativity so I’ve learned to sink into her crazy imagination world a bit and work with it.
Since she likes dresses so much I’ve learned to balance her wearing a skirt and wanting to play on the playground with a pair of leggings or shorts underneath her skirt. She’s able to be active and I’m assured that her undies won’t be on display at the park when she’s swinging or being fearless and climbing to the highest landing for the slides. I’ve also tried my hand at modifying some old t-shirts into night dresses for her as well as trimming down an old night dress that I never wore into a beautiful long princess dress for her. She was super stoked to see that dress and even picks up the front hem to walk up the stairs safer when wearing it.
Something else that Munchkin has been doing for a while now, and I hope he continues for a long while, is coming back downstairs for more hugs before bed. Sometimes he does it so he can see what game I’m playing on the playstation, other times I think he does it to delay his bedtime. Whatever the reason, I find if I take the delay as a quiet moment to enjoy spending time with my son it helps me enjoy the phase a bit more than if I take it as an annoyance or bother. I know there may come a time when he’s not wanting to even give me a hug before bed, let alone come down for more. Or even share with me his silly stories and creative moves to get up and down the stairs before racing upstairs to bed.
So the next time you hear “It’s only a phase”, look back at the speaker and say “Yes, it’s only a phase, but I am trying to enjoy it while it lasts.” I’d be interested to know how the rest of the conversation goes, or even what their reaction to you is after tilting their expectations a bit with your comment.