My 7 month old daughter is at the stage where she thinks holding a piece of broccoli or red pepper in her hand and moving it to her mouth is the most fascinating thing in the world. Her eyes widen like a butterfly taking flight. She shakily grips the vegetable I give her like a knight taking his first sword.

My 4 year old is at this weird stage where he asks copious amounts of questions whose answers are evident. Just listen to my voice, I want to play with words like they are a musical instrument. That’s what I think he is thinking. At times it is annoying like a bad pop song, but it’s equally hilarious.

My 8 year old is in many fascinating stages. One of my favourites (and one I secretly encouraged) is the comic book stage. As a kid myself, I inhaled comics. Watching Yumi munch through them like a termite has been delightful. I can’t help but get giddy about it.

What I find so funny about these periods in their lives is the way it’s obvious they will outgrow them. Lucy will soon find the act of holding broccoli completely ordinary; Jackson will stop sounding like a walking Dora question machine; and Yumi will likely not find time to read her manga.

As a teacher of 13 year olds, I encounter a relatively mercurial and mysterious group of students. The mood swings, the seemingly random bouts of misbehaviour, the quiet anger. The changes they have gone through this school year are startling when you really break it down. It’s no wonder vampire novels touch such a chord; they’re wonderful monsters themselves, trying to make meaning of new found power, weakness, and complexity.

Some are to be savoured, while others endured, but all of life’s stages have their meaning and value.

Posted originally on May 30 2011 here.

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