Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Cure for Whining

I cannot tolerate whining. From children.

In my opinion only mothers should be allowed to whine. Our voices are (generally) deeper and our reasons for whining (always) more compelling. And as you know, I love a good whine. I try to whine about something at least twice a day, and indeed, I think mothers should be encouraged to whine whether it comes naturally to them or not. But children can and should be trained not to. Especially if they live in Wyoming and have rural western accents at age two. Rural western accent+carping/whinnying =appalling din.

Many of you -- sensing that I know what I am doing when it comes to dealing with toddlers -- have asked me to share my secret method for stopping the small people from making that infernal noise, like a permanent mosquito in Mama’s ear. Since we are always eager to share in our house, I am only too happy to tell you what it is I do to stop Crabtot from whining. In 3 Simple Steps.

Step 1: So easy, but can diminish in efficacy over time. Pretend you do not understand when tot speaks in squeaky mewling syllables, when she draws out the pleas in a warbling whinge, inventing vowels where none exist like a tiny R&B singer only without tune. Tell your little pest she is speaking a language you do not understand. Or tell her when she speaks like that your ears can’t hear.

Step 2: Drown them out with whiny pop music. This is extremely effective. On the whiny-music front, well there is so much to choose from, whiny richness abounding. Try Cocorosie, for example. They are exceptionally whiny half-Cherokee twins who recorded their first album in their bathtub in Paris. La Maison de Mon Reve is the album. They sound like strangled kittens. It’s really good. If you prefer your whining from men, pick men who want to be women, like Antony of Antony and the Johnsons. I Am A Bird Now, in which he bleats in falsetto about boys who yearn to be girls, is a far more melodic, poignant, and cerebral alternative to the wee one’s feeble but insistent chanting for snacks. If you prefer more of a low moan than a soprano whine then the British world is your oyster. Fine dour men abound in the UK, ranting and mumbling their sour stories and complaints in great variety. Tindersticks is my favorite. Stateside, Smog is pretty good for that sort of thing, especially the album Red Apple Falls where he gets all maudlin and hysterical about widows and fruit and horses. I have plenty recs should you need more. But I’d wager that one round of the squeaky chicks in their squeaky French tub and your needy squeaker will be shocked into silence.

Step 3: Oh, you know this one from the last post. Just spank it!

You will be amazed at the terrific results that come of curbing tot-whining from my 3 Simple Steps. Once you start, a marked improvement is guaranteed within one month or I shall send you a bottle of “cinnamon-toast-flavored” syrup from Kelloggs, which I have in my basement. (That’s right. Don’t ask me how it got there, just ask yourself why you would want a syrup for your cinnamon toast that is ITSELF cinnamon toast flavored. A sort of meta-syrup.) Also do not hesitate to try and drown out weird whine-oriented toddler pronunciation, such as “Deeeeedy” for Daddy and “You make me seeead” for “You make me sad.” I know it sounds mean, but it’s a proven fact that correcting pronunciation in the first three years of life can reduce whine output by 62%.

Warning: Don’t tell her “You’re driving me insane.” For she will simply take that one and fling it back to you whenever you drive them insane. Sometimes with a term of endearment attached, because some small people mistake terms of endearment for insults, viz. “You’re driving me insane, HONEY!”

Best of luck! And please do send me any additional Whine Management tips you think would help.


grunnio corocotta said...

Our little angel hasn't quite crossed the threshold of tactical whinging, but will soon enough, so I'm on the lookout for practical responses. Does the French bathtub music really get it done? Or does it just encourage her to level up like Pokemon?

Karen Stead Baigrie said...

Whining needs to get nipped in the bud asap otherwsie they use it as the most hideous weapon against their desparate parents. Outright refusal to understand or aquiesce to demands expressed in whine form usually does the trick. Basically ignore them and yes, loud music (works VERY well in the car!) is a superb tool.

grunnio corocotta said...

Wow, cool. I'm all for nipping in the bud. Will keep that filed away.

crabmommy said...
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Crabmommy said...
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Undomestic said...

How to deal with the 2 1/2 year old whine......my own red WINE.

Villagepig said...

Clearly South Africa has taught us well :-)

I think that moms in SA are generally less chipper and cheerful about this motherhood thing and maybe that saves our sanity in the end.

Also MY parents were extremely unforgiving and whining was NOT ALLOWED! Something about... 'n' kind is gesien en nie gehoer nie' (a child is seen and not heard).

Perhaps when mine hit toddlerdom I'll remember that and return the favour.

Amy (fellow ex South African mum)

zendra said...

our household whining cure is akin to your not understanding them, but we add to it and supply the words ourselves - whiny 3 y.o. "moooooommmmmyyyy - i donnnnnnn't waaannnnaaaa eeeeaaaatttt thhaaaat" Me "a polar bear? in your ear? that's highly unlikely." 3 y.o. looks at me like I'm crazy and stops whining b/c she's likely looking for an escape out of the asylum. love your blog - just found it

Melissa said...

A note from the childless but pro-good-children camp: Thank you, Crabmom, for fighting the good fight and training your Crabtot not to whine. All childless adults at nearby tables in restaurants--at nearby anywhere--will be ever so grateful.