There’s no getting around it, kids do the craziest things -- all of the time. Not only that but when we ask them why they thought that filling their clothes drawer with syrup and raspberry sauce was a good idea, they’ll just give a disinterested shrug and say, “I don’t know.”
Unfortunately, I speak from experience on that particular example.
We all did this kind of thing when we were children and fortunately for the world at large, as we grow we learn not to do everything that crosses our mind. The downside to maturity is that when our kiddos do the same weird things we did, we have forgotten what it’s like to be operating sans impulse control and expect them to explain themselves.
Save your breath and your sanity. Don’t bother struggling to get an explanation out of them because quite often there isn’t one. Even if there was a particular motivation, children do not yet have the skills to analyze the complexity of their impulses, nor do they have the communication skills to explain their actions to you.
Rather than getting hung up on “why?” learn to accept the fact that it happened and stop trying to rationalize it. Consider this your first lesson in “Parenting Zen 101,” and use these examples to remind yourself what you used to do and yet will be baffled by when your kid does it.
20 Mini Mixologist
Any child who finds themselves unsupervised in the kitchen will take the opportunity to open up the fridge and/or cupboards, grab a handful of random items and mix them together. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you’ll discover a bowl in which they are “cooking” with orange juice, crackers, and a hefty helping of mayonnaise or some other hellish combination.
If you are exceptionally unlucky, you will not discover their experiments until a line of ants appears in your home, and you find out they are coming in for the honey, jelly, and peanut butter your daughter mixed and then tried to dispose of by wiping it up the wall behind your sofa. Yes, this is my life.
19 Paper Avoidance
Imagine the scene: you have created a cute little corner for your budding artist, complete with pens, pencils, chalks, paints and brushes, an easel, and enough paper to keep an entire city of daycares supplied for a month. The wipe-clean cloth is on the floor, your little Picasso is covered in an apron to protect their clothes, and you have sat together being all creative. The doorbell rings and in the time it takes you to answer, sign for a delivery and get back to the art corner your angel has gone rogue and painted on the walls, door, bookshelves, TV and even under the drop cloth. Welcome to motherhood.
18 Strange Sleeping
Most of us have had to endure our parents embarrassing us with stories of “That time you…” I particularly enjoy embarrassing one of our teenage sons with the tale of how he went through a phase of only going to sleep wearing a particular purple woolly hat and with his favorite football to cuddle.
Another son has to listen to us telling his girlfriend how he would just lay down and sleep anywhere. Laying across the dining room chairs, in the tumble dryer, on the roof of the shed, you never knew where you were going to find him, and he could never say why he chose a particular place.
17 Licking Stuff
Pity the parent whose child explores the world through input from their tongue. Despite the fact the flavor of many things must be hideous, some kiddos take to licking as part of their overall examination of anything new, or novel.
In some cases, this is, of course, healthy behavior. Poking out your tongue and letting just the end of it touch a new or suspicious food is something many people still do as adults. Sticking out your entire tongue to give a tree the kind of full-on slobbery licking an overexcited golden retriever would be embarrassed by, not so much.
16 Up The Nose
I once spent several hours in the ER waiting for an ENT to examine our oldest daughter who had firmly wedged a hard candy banana up her left nostril. After this, I hoped that hiding odd things in holes in the head was a one-off experience, but no, each of our children went through the experience, although there was some variation. Peas in the ear, the rubber from the end of a pencil up the nose, the list goes on, and on, and unfortunately on. I feel there are an entire subReddits worth of stories from our family alone.
15 “Custom” Toys
Sometimes it is good to be reminded of your own excursions to the land of off-beat childhood actions.
Once, when one of our sons spent an afternoon with a new pack of toy cars, the results of his impromptu customization looked like Tim Burton had been commissioned to create a set of Hot-Wheels but had rejected the final product because even he thought they were too freaky.
His dad was upset until he was reminded of his own childhood custom job, when he took his Matchbox collection, set fire to it in the garden and dripped the burnt remains in red paint to resemble blood.
14 The Odd Collection
Depending on when they were born and their particular interests, some kids might collect novelty rubbers or pencil sharpeners, everything to do with Captain America, Squishies or any number of other bits and pieces around a theme. We might not share their passion for a particular item, but we generally understand the urge to collect something that speaks to us.
At least, we can understand it if it is a toy or items that are designed to appeal to kids. It’s more challenging to get your head around a collection when your child is the one who suddenly decides to amass pencil shavings, car license plate numbers (not novelty ones, just any old number), twigs or receipts.
13 Mouth Sounds
Making fart noises with the armpit is something some kiddos never grow out of, but there are plenty of other weird and wonderful ways kids discover to make sounds with their bodies that are, thankfully, less likely to make it to adulthood.
The worst one, in my opinion, is their mouth. From sitting doing homework while making popping noises to laying in bed creating gross gurgling sounds with drool, some kids seem to be unable to do anything without an accompanying soundtrack created with their kisser and a healthy dose of the dribble.
Ask why they’re making that noise, and most of them will be unaware they are even doing it and look at you like you’re the weird one.
12 I Am My Art
A close relative of the aversion to paper, body art is popular with many kiddos. They are sitting down with a perfectly good activity book to color and draw in and the next thing you know, they’ve swapped out the children's pens for some permanent markers you didn’t even know you owned and doodled all over themselves.
Don’t waste your time asking why they drew on themselves instead of the paper or trying to work out how they got their hands on bright green pens with ink that doesn’t wash off. Save your energy instead for coping with the strange looks you are going to get everytime you appear in public for the next three weeks with a child who has a magnificent neon handlebar mustache on his face.
11 Just Eat It
One thing it is easy to forget when you are a grown-up, or if not an actual proper grown-up a person in an older body who has at least learned a couple of the most basic life lessons, is that kids don’t know what you know.
I’m not talking about the recipe for an unbelievable Margarita or how to stalk someone on social media without getting caught, I mean the most basic things like don’t eat the worms you dig up in the garden.
When your child comes to you with a mouth full of mashed up arachnid, remember he or she has probably never been explicitly taught that spiders are not a good snack food.
10 Speaking In Tongues
Yes, most babies babble and a relatively large proportion of children make up the occasional word or phrase, unique to them. This isn’t enough for all kids though, some of them have to take it a step further and put their own spin on language.
You might get up one day to discover your son is adding “diddly” to the end of every other word or that your daughter is using “le,” “la” and other sounds to give the impression she is speaking an odd pseudo-French.
Instead of trying to talk them out of it, go with the flow. We once spent three days speaking in bad French accents, which resulted in plenty of weird looks at the store, but plenty of giggles too.
9 The Cover Artist
I know plenty of fellow mommas who have been wholly bewildered to find their child covered, from head to toe, in peanut butter, chocolate spread, diaper cream, baby powder, or anything else their child could grab and spread around while mom wasn’t looking.
If you are lucky(ish) they will confine this behavior to their own body, one spot in the house, and use something easily washed off. Then again, these are kids I’m talking about, so they’ll make it as hard as possible for you by using something oil-based that is a nightmare to clean, daubing it in several rooms and applying a liberal amount to an expensive item like the TV.
8 Call Me Rocky
This fun quirk is usually confined to children who have a pet in the house but can be adopted by others who have seen pets on TV, the internet, or in other peoples homes. Actually, there are a lot of weird pet related behaviors, and for the sake of decency, I'm going to skip over anything to do with your child investigating your pet's body and go straight to little ones who decide to act like a pet.
Don’t be concerned when you find your kiddos have put their food on the floor and is insisting on eating without using their hands and putting their face straight in the bowl. They do grow out of it, and you don’t have to worry they’ll still be acting like this on their first date. Probably.
7 Exploring What Comes Out
Thrusting their hands down the toilet or into the potty and fishing out a poop, poking around in their diapers and emerging with gooey brown fingers, or merely waving their digits about in the stream of their pee, if it comes out of their body, chances are your child will be curious.
This need to explore the substance that they just produced is kind of understandable. What is more challenging to get to grips with is why, once they have discovered it is stinky and gross, why some kids insist on eating it, spreading all over themselves, or rubbing it on nearby surfaces.
When your kid grosses you out by doing this, remember, you probably did the same thing. Now, who’s the gross one, eh?
6 Eating With Style
Children explore food and eating in the same way they examine everything else. You might tell them how to do it “properly” but how can your mini-me be entirely sure you are right? The best way to eat their pasta might actually be by sucking all the sauce off of each piece first, spitting them out when they’re sauce free and then eating the sucked clean pile of shapes at the end of their meal.
Maybe you’ll luck out, and they’ll tire of their quirk quickly. If not, be prepared for a crossover into sticking things in facial holes. Yeah, fun times.
5 Bite Me
A favorite story in my family home is the time I went through a phase of biting myself. I would like to make it clear at this point, this was not a recent thing and that I was about four years old at the time.
Not only did I take to sinking my teeth into my flesh hard enough to break the skin and create some spectacular bruising but I did it on multiple occasions. All of this despite the fact that every time I did it, I ran to my mother, crying that it hurt, so it’s not as if I didn't understand the cause and effect.
To this day, I still couldn’t tell you why I insisted on doing this.
4 The Random Fancy
As adults, most people have a relatively fixed idea of the “right” way of using things. Spoons are for stirring and eating, toothbrushes are for, well toothbrushing and stuffed animals are for cuddling.
Your child may not have adopted all of these social norms yet and so, sometimes, what seems like an inexplicable use of an object to you, is just your little one going with what pops into their head and not restricting themselves to the “right” way of doing things.
Try to remember this if your child is the for whom a blankie is not the goto comfort object and, instead, carries a severed head Halloween prop with them as an item of solace.
3 The Strange Pet
Apart from the brief, baffling passion people had for pet rocks, most people's pets are the living, breathing, interact with, need to feed them and keep them clean kind. For this article we’ll skip over Tamagotchis and the like because there’s no time here for the “could they be classed as electronic pets?” debate.
Plenty of kids “adopt” an odd pet. One of our sons had a shell, named Michelle, which was once accidentally thrown away, an event that resulted in my husband having to climb into and rummage through a huge dumpster, looking for a shell the size of your pinkie fingernail.
These pets can be just as important as living breathing ones to your little. As long as it doesn’t cause problems, make the most of the fact you don’t have to clean it out or feed it.
Oh, and yes, Michelle was rescued, and in recognition of the effort his dad went to, our now fully grown son still has her.
2 Don’t Ask
I have one friend whose son declared out of nowhere that his “real” parents were aliens and that he had been placed with his “Earth mom” to learn what it was to be human, after which he would be beamed back to his home planet in order to teach the rest of his species about Humans. He was almost four at the time, so he didn't say it quite like that, but that’s the general gist.
I also know a child who decided she was actually Italian, even though nobody she knew was and she didn’t know anyone who had ever been to Italy.
If you are the lucky mom of a kiddo who suddenly decides they are a cuckoo in the nest, embrace the story. It will come in handy when your child does something terrible and you need to disown them.
1 Tasty Tasty Mixes
We began with the random mixing of foodstuffs, and we end with the blending of foods, but this one is slightly different. I’m not talking about pouring things into a bowl or mixing them on the floor “just because.”
This time it’s about your child eating what they create, and I tell you, children can create some weird stuff. Foods consumed in our house include: Cheetos crumbled up and mixed with strawberry yogurt, bananas wrapped in bacon, and, my personal favorite, turkey breast coated in Nutella.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to hide until my kids have grown out of all this. It should be safe to emerge in twenty years or so, right?