Puh-leeeeze Read My Post About Whining

14 Mar

I like to watch brain surgery. Really. I’m not being sarcastic. I am leading up to something, but, seriously, I like to watch brain surgery. My favorite brain surgery to watch is the kind where the top of the patient’s head has been taken off and the surgeon is rummaging around in the brain looking for a particular section that will elicit a particular response from the patient. The surgeon calls for the patient to be wakened. Then he (OK, or she) prods the identified brain section with his brain prodding thingy and the patient starts talking about some long forgotten incident. I’ve seen it lots of times and I still think, “Cool!”

I want a brain surgeon to open my head and look for a particular spot and then sever its neural pathways. The one I want him to find is the one that causes my entire body to convulse when triggered by that parental nightmare: the whine.

Whining slices straight through me. My entire body contracts, my eyes squinch, my brain crackles. I will do anything to make the noise cease. Some people can’t stand fingernails on a chalkboard. Some can’t stand ringing telephones. I can’t stand to hear the sound of whining children. This is a problem. I have children.

I don’t recall whining being a huge problem with my son. He wasn’t a particularly whiny kid but all kids have something they do that is completely and utterly obnoxious. My son’s obnoxiousness was physical. He liked to hang on people. Literally. We knew it was annoying, but we never tried to stop him. The then-current parenting fad was logical consequences. The logical consequence of our son hanging on people was that they would be annoyed with him and tell him so. They did. He didn’t care. The logical consequence of our attempts at logical parenting was that lots of people thought we were indulgent parents afraid to discipline our child. Who? Us?

Our daughter is the one who makes me want a lobotomy. Like many an eight-year-old, she is a charming child. She is beautiful and delicate. She is bashful around strangers. Her teachers report that she is popular, helpful, considerate and kind.

These people have never denied her a thing. I know the monster that lurks within her. I have told her, “No.” I know the keening banshee that lies beneath her placid exterior, the one who comes out to play when the Empress is thwarted.

A typical exchange might happen at breakfast. My daughter will say, “I know you’re going to say ‘no’, but can I have sugar cookies?” I will ask, “Have you had something healthy?” “No,” she will say, “but you said I could have them yesterday and I didn’t eat them then.” I will remind her that yesterday she asked to eat the cookies after she had eaten something healthy.

“You can have the cookies after you eat your bagel and cream cheese.”

“But I don’t want the bagel and cream cheese.”

“You asked for a bagel and cream cheese. You will have to get your own breakfast if you don’t want what I made you.”

“Ok. I’ll eat the cookies.”

“No, you may not eat the cookies until you’ve eaten the bagel and cream cheese.” By now, the pre-whine tone has entered her voice. I can feel the tension building in my toes.

“But I don’t want the bagel and cream cheese.”

“Then get your self something else that’s healthy.”

“You’re supposed to make my breakfast! I’m just a little girl!” She is now in full-on whine. I am resolved to remain tough. She is my little Zen master and I will not rise to her call to chaos.

“You know the rule. If you don’t eat what Mommy makes, you make your own breakfast.”

“Fine! I’m having the coo. . .” Before she can say “. . .kies,” I say, “No, we talked about this. You may not have the cookies. You must eat something healthy first.” I can feel myself slipping. The knife-edge of her whine has sliced my brain in two.

“You interruuuuuuuuuuupted MEEEEEEEEEEE,” she wails. “I’m trying to talk and you interrupted meeeeeeee!  You always do that! I’m trying and trying to explain to you and you interuuuuupt meeeeeee!”

And she has me. I cave.

“Fine! Eat the cookies!” I say, thinking I would probably let her eat glass at this point if she would just stop whining.

I don’t always cave in. Sometimes I hang tough. I remember that she is acting, that she can turn the tantrum off at will and that I have proof.

Our children do nothing together but bicker. We spend lots of money on therapy so that they will learn how to do something other than bicker. After two years, they are able to tolerate playing video games together for about 20 minutes, in the therapist’s office. Progress.

One night at dinner, our son was lobbying hard for some electronic or musical hundred-dollar-plus gizmo. Probably a Les Paul, but maybe a 40,000-gigabyte iPod Touch. Whatever it was, he was pushing with all his considerable negotiating talent. His father and I were resisting mightily. We were winning. Then, our daughter started whining. The whine turned to a wail. She was sobbing, tears were falling down her cheeks. All conversation stopped. We turned to her. “Sweetie,” her father said. “What’s wrong?” When she had all of our attention, she abruptly stopped wailing, looked at us and said, “Now will you give him what he wants?”

We did not give him what he wants. But, while condemning her methods, we applauded her solidarity with her brother.

There’s not much evidence that our daughter will leave the League of Fine Whiners any time soon. Why would she? It’s the most effective weapon in her arsenal. She may even be recruiting her brother. He has begun using whining as a tool to achieve his desires. So far, he does it playfully and it’s really rather amusing to see him smoosh his very teen-aged, semi-bearded face into childish pleading. He even holds his hands clasped together and gives me puppy dog eyes, while saying, “Pweeze, Mommy.” It’s ridiculously endearing. The first sign of serious whinery, though and I’m headed for the nearest neurosurgeon.

4 Responses to “Puh-leeeeze Read My Post About Whining”

  1. Bobbi Meier March 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    You know the old saying, “white whine with fish!”

  2. Elaine March 16, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    I must say that, to me, this is a whole new side to Miss A! She never whines at our house, well, beyond the usual “5 more minutes, pleeeeease?” kind of whine when it’s time to go home. Claire, on the other hand, can go from whine to full-blown meltdown in about 5 seconds flat. It’s really kind of impressive, in an abnormal sort of way. 🙂 But I’m with you on the lobotomy…I have that thought about 8:30 every morning when both kids are still refusing to get dressed, eat breakfast, go to school, etc. Ugh!

    • jmlindy422 March 17, 2011 at 6:18 am #

      I’ve seen Miss Claire go into overdrive. It really is something. Nothing halfway about it. Yes, Abby at home is a very different animal.

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