Thursday, December 07, 2006


So I don't usually post parenting dilemmas over here. But this is one of them. Mainly because it is driving me frigging bonkers.

Toddlerness has begun making extremely high-pitched protesty noises when she doesn't get her way. Everything from not getting to nurse right.this.instant to wanting the toy her brother has to needing a little extra attention.

It is irritating as all kinds of shit.

And because I think it is the most irritating thing in the world, my reflex is to do whatever it takes to stop it RIGHT THAT INSTANT. This is, to put it mildly, not a long-term solution to the problem of me wanting to squash whatever being makes that noise. In fact I do believe it is encouraging her to do it louder and more often.

Fran was wondering to me last night if part of decent parenting was putting up with the whining. He made the point that the families we hang out with, ones we thing parent exceptionally well, have kids that, well, whine a lot.

I don't think so. Whining is fucking annoying and not a good way to go about getting what you want in the real world, besides.

But "not putting up with whining" is a complex problem. Often she is whining about something I'd have given her anyway, and she's too little really to understand having to restate things without whining. I think. Fran is deliberately misunderstanding her when she does it, asking her "what" until she says or gestures what she wants without the squealing. I'm not sure I can put up with doing that all day long, but I may have to if I want her to cut it the heck out.

I have to say that I think we averted a hearty whining phase with the older children just by being better able to anticipate their wants and needs and cater to them more quickly. Toddlerness rarely asks for anything unreasonable. It's usually something super simple, like water, or getting her blocks out, or a turn with whatever toy her brother has, or more paper to color on. This means that I'm not only usually willing to do what it is she wants, I *want* to do it, and just *doing* it regardless of the whining is the easiest thing, particularly when I just want her to shut up so I can go back to thinking about whatever assignment I'm working about.

I realize that the way to deal with this most consistent with our overall parenting style would be to give her my near-complete attention nearly 100% of the time. But, I've got stuff to do. I've got other kids who need attention, too. And the problem isn't that I can't do what she wants, it's that I want her to learn to ask for it in a less irritating way. She is a very, very 'needy' kid. Her day is an almost-continuous chorus of "mama, mama, nummies, mama, mama, cracker, mama, color, mama, paper?, mama, mama, block?, Dada HOME!!!!, Dada, dada, dada, dada, outside? Dada, stick? Dada, dada, color? Dada, paper?" Sometimes being verbal is a handicap. She rarely shuts up while she's home and my best hope for a break is that she'll get engrossed in some activity. Right now she's got several paper bags, and she's putting random stuff in them and delivering them to people. This will probably last about 5 minutes and then she'll ask me for something. It will probably be something really random, like a towel to put on top of the basket full of stuff she's got. It will be something that I'm more than happy to get. But she'll whine about it and squeal if she doesn't get her way. And then I'll want to squish her (and not in a good way). Fucking whining! It totally destroys the happy-busy mood I think we'd have around here otherwise.


~L~ said...

this whole thing made me tense

I hate whining.

Louisa said...

Unfortunately I'm surrounded by it.
Feeling you sister.