There is nothing that I hate more than whining.
13 years of parenting has taught me this. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. I feel that if I taught you how to speak, you could do me the decency of communicating without all of the dramatics.
There has been an ongoing whining struggle with my eight year old for about the past, well, eight years. Just when I think we’re out of the woods she likes to remind me that we’re not (children really are little evil geniuses sometimes).
I’ve tried being the patient, understanding, over-loving mother.
I’ve tried being the tough, intolerant, not-happening-in-my-house mother.
I’ve tried the ‘this is really a first world problem’ guilt trips.
I’ve tried convincing her that my tombstone is going read “Death by Whining”.
Nothing. Has. Worked.
At least not as a cure for this ridiculous problem.
Yesterday morning, whining was in full swing.
As soon as I told her it was time to get off the couch, get dressed, and eat breakfast because we were leaving soon for her vocal lesson – she went full-blown whiner on me:
“I don’t know what I want for breakfast.” (Said in the most pathetic whining tone you can imagine)
This is the part where I ran through all of my usual unsuccessful tactics:
“It’s fine if you don’t know. Not a big deal. Just take a few minutes to think about it.”
“Stop. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You can talk to me without whining and being disrespectful”
“You’re pretty lucky to be faced with the problem of so many options for breakfast that you don’t know which one to choose.”
“You’re killing me smalls! I have ZERO patience for this. I’m just trying to help you get ready for your vocal lesson. I’d be happy to still be in bed right now.”
Here is where my epiphany set in…
I SOUND LIKE A COMPLETE A-HOLE PARENT!
Hi. My name is Danielle and I have a problem.
I dance around in repetitious cycles of insanity
with my children. Thinking that if I just keep
dancing, the insanity will somehow end one day.
Whining is not the problem.
My child’s attitude is not the problem (well…not entirely).
The problem is that we both have come to believe that this is normal. This ridiculous back-and-forth between us. As if pushing against one another is what we’re supposed to do.
“I don’t want to argue and work against you”, I told her. “That’s not what I’m supposed to do. My job is to help you. I want to help you get whatever it is that you want to eat. I want you to get dressed in the clothes that you want to wear today. I want to you to make it to your vocal lesson on time so that you can go sing the song you’ve been practicing every day. We’re a team. Partners. I love you like crazy and I want to help you get everything it is that you want.”
A completely different child responded to me.
We quickly figured out what she wanted for breakfast. She got dressed quickly (which is another process that tends to be a morning nightmare) and she was ready to go with plenty of time to spare.
Is she cured of the whining disease?
There was definitely complaining and push back when she was asked to do her chores later in the day. But, all in all, we are in a better place. Mostly, because I’m taking a different perspective –We’re always on the same team!
I know they won’t always respond positively. I have a hunch that my 13 year old is going to be more difficult than my 8 year old pretty soon.
Regardless of how my children are behaving and responding to me, I’m committed to helping them realize that this back and forth isn’t normal and it isn’t how we love each other.
I’m probably going to have to remind them of that regularly.
And that’s ok.
Because I love them like crazy.
Even though they drive me crazy.
Here’s to not settling for the things that we don’t want and always finding a better way.
Much love to you, Sexy Momma.