4.25.2008

Fazed by phases

Otherwise sane adults enter parenthood feeling they can manage the child, that they can shape that newborn bundle of protoplasm into a functional adult who will bring good to the world.

Soon, however, sleep-deprived parents recognize that babies are around-the-clock need machines who bring into the world only one thing: dirty diapers. And it just goes downhill from there.

The central problem of parenthood is that the child's needs and expectations often are in direct conflict with the needs and expectations of the parents. For instance, a toddler expects life to be full of fun and freedom and adventure; the parents expect the child to stop sticking his tongue to electrical sockets.

Many such conflicts occur because parents don't understand the Stages of Child Development. As children grow, they go through "phases" in which certain behaviors are exhibited. Parents will find each of these "phases" to be "weird," but wise parents know that, if they just wait the child out, soon the aberrant behavior will be replaced by something even weirder.

Let's look, then, at the Stages of Child Development. For simplicity's sake, we'll break down childhood into the following categories: Infants, Toddlers, those of elementary school age (hereinafter known as "Kids"), and Teens. Each of these general age groups display certain universal behavioral traits, though individual deviations are common. Your mileage may vary.

Question: What do children want most from parents?

Infants: Around-the-clock attention.
Toddlers: A chance to get away with something.
Kids: A ride somewhere.
Teens: Money.

Question: What will interest the child most at various stages?

Infants: Mom's face.
Toddlers: Electrical sockets.
Kids: Armpit noises.
Teens: The opposite sex.

Question: Children tend to insert things in their mouths. What items are most typical?

Infants: Toe.
Toddlers: Everything.
Kids: Candy.
Teens: Foot.

Question: What are children's methods of communicating their needs?

Infants: Crying.
Toddlers: Crying.
Kids: Crying.
Teens: Sullen silence.

Question: What are children's favorite modes of transportation?

Infants: Mom's arms.
Toddlers: Dad's shoulders.
Kids: Anything that has wheels and an element of danger.
Teens: Their own car, dammit.

Question: What's the favorite form of amusement at each stage?

Infants: A mobile over the crib.
Toddlers: Inane television shows.
Kids: Setting small fires.
Teens: Talking on the phone 24 hours a day.

Question: How do children regard normal bodily functions?

Infant: Fascinating.
Toddler: As topics for public conversation.
Kids: Hilarious.
Teens: "God, you're so embarrassing! Can't you just leave me alone?"

Question: What clothing options are suitable for a child at each stage?

Infant: Six billion diapers.
Toddler: Armor.
Kids: Anything the parents didn't pick out.
Teens: The same stupid bellbottoms you wore when you were a teen.

Question: What philosophical questions are indicative of each stage?

Infants: Who am I?
Toddlers: Can I eat it?
Kids: Why not?
Teens: Can't a person get any privacy around here?

Question: What patterns of disturbing behavior can parents expect?

Infants: Shrieking at 2 a.m.
Toddlers: Throwing up at 2 a.m.
Kids: Raiding the fridge at 2 a.m.
Teens: Needing bail at 2 a.m.

Question: What are the typical ambitions of a child at each stage?

Infants: To become toddlers.
Toddlers: To escape their parents' control.
Kids: To someday drive a car.
Teens: To escape their parents' control.

Question: What are the biggest challenges for the parent at each stage of the child's development?

Infants: Sleep deprivation.
Toddlers: Ensuring a safe environment.
Kids: Public embarrassment.
Teens: Controlling homicidal impulses.

Now that you have a firm understanding of the Stages of Child Development, you can be better parents. Remember: Each of these stages is merely a passing phase and, eventually, the children will grow up and move away.

And then, finally, you can get some sleep.

2 comments:

Clair Dickson said...

That was hilarious! Thank you for giving me a good laugh that got everyone around me to stare.

Jered said...

Better -- and more practical -- than a college course on the same material. Thanks for the heads up.