(Part Two of Three)
I think some of you weren't brave enough to listen to The Howl, so I'll spare you the sound that makes my blood pressure climb, gives me tension headaches, and puts me a foul mood faster than an episode of Wife Swap. I suppose I should be thankful that we got off relatively easy for Sydney's Terrible Twos. She really wasn't so terrible. Rather delightful actually. Sure, we had the occasional meltdown, we definitely had the throw-self-to-the-floor-and-cry routine (but rarely in public), and we had what we now have discovered was the warm-up period for what has become a daily routine: whining.
Oh, I know. Kids whine. What's new. But oh my goodness gracious, it drives me nuts. Now that Syd's vocabulary has increased substantially than it was over a year ago, her ability to transform any word into a whine is a marvel.
Me: We're having spaghetti for dinner. Yay! Just what you asked for.
Syd: I don't waaaaaaaaaaaaaaant spaghetti. I want toast.
Me: We're having spaghetti.
Syd: *serious frowning* I don't liiiiiiike spaghettiiiiiiiiiiiii.
Syd: But whyyyyyy? Whyyyyyy? Whyyyyy not?
To her credit (and ours, because you know I'll take it), she doesn't throw herself on the floor as much as she used to. She has tempered the flailing of arms, the kicking of legs, the banshee screaming. But she has replaced it with the tiniest of moves that disproportionately irritates me. She hangs her head and frowns. Huge frown. Forget the little birdy landing on the lip, let's get a Canada goose to nest there.
Other than the technique of redirecting her attention, we have yet to discover an effective way to combat whining. The whole, "I can't hear you when you're whining" doesn't work because she just interprets that to mean we actually can't hear her and so whines louder. I'm onto her semantic games and say, "I can't understand you when you're whining," which prompts her to yell, resulting in time-outs. We also try, "You need to ask in a polite tone," which only works if we're planning on saying yes to whatever her request is, otherwise she gets quite upset if she goes to the trouble of changing her tone only to be met with a "no." I should insert here that if we say "yes" to everything she wants, then she is a fabulously well-behaved kid. "Can I play with my race cars?" Sure. "Can I give Daisy a bone?" Good idea! "Can I have a piece of gum?" Let's wait until after lunch.
I try to be a good parent about it. Certainly, me getting agitated and snappish at her doesn't model the kind of behavior we want from her. Yet I have my limits. My ears just get tired.
When I was reading this book, I came across the story of a mom who felt like a failure every time her kids cried during the day. I chuckled to myself (and did feel sorry for the mom, too) because the idea of getting through a day without a crying, whining child seems ridiculously impossible. So much so that I don't feel even a tiny bit guilty about my parenting skills when my kids cry. Seriously. Kids cry. I can control that as much as I can control the leaves falling. But my response? Sometimes I feel like I can't control that either, even though I'm the big kid and need to exercise patience and kindness and all good things that I seem to have so little of at times.
I want to do better. I want to be patient, I do. And if it was just a phase, maybe I could work through it. But I taught high schoolers for five years, and been teaching college students for two years, and let me tell you: whining is not a phase. It's a character trait. In some respects, maybe this whole post is just me whining. I'm not stamping my feet over it, but I could be persuaded to after a car ride in which there is copious amounts of whining because I turned I took a left turn instead of a right turn.
Nevermind my whining though. Let's focus on my parenting techniques. There's got to be a better way to deal with kids whining. Please, somebody, help me out here. That can be your Halloween treat for me--a piece of parenting candy that will be both a trick and a treat.