Friday, January 6, 2012

Whining? Can't Have It. Not On This Team.

My whole life I have been saying that when I had kids of my own I wasn't going to say the things my parents said to me: "eat all of your (fill in the blank) or no dessert, not under my roof, do I need to tell Santa, etc". Alas, I am a father of two boys (2 1/2 and 5 months) and if I am not saying the things my folks said to me then what is coming out of my pie hole is certainly no less ridiculous.  Undoubtedly, my three year old self would happily toss a Spiderman motorcycle toy at my head for the father that I have become.  But as a parent sometimes you just have to do what works (or rather what shut's your kids up).  Because your kids will drive you nuts and you will need to minimize it both for a happy home life and a healthy you.  And I don't mean they'll drive you "nuts" like it's rush hour and some schmuck just cut you off sort of "nuts", I mean someone just spit in your mother's face, crapped in your food, kicked your dog and kissed your wife sort of "nuts".  I'm not kidding.  This shit is real.  What drives parents this level of crazy is different for each person, for some it is the Captain Contrary/Negative Nancy phase, for others it may be not following the simple rules.  For me it is whining.

I can't tell you where my son learned it from.  I don't whine.  My wife does't whine.  The dogs whine, but that's different.  It's as if it is just some sort of diabolical manifestation.  Sure, some professionals will tell you that it is the child learning to express themselves and that apparently negativity is the first thing they learn.  Fantastic.  You newbies are surely saying to yourselves "but what could a 2 1/2 year old have to really whine about besides wanting toys or not wanting to eat his/her vegetables"?  And the answer to that is EVERYTHING.  Absolutely, positively anything.

My son will tell me he's all done eating his dinner and I tell him it's time for a bath.  He then tells me he's not all done with his dinner and that he doesn't like baths.  He'll tell me he wants to go play with his kitchen in his room, but when I tell him that he needs to clean up his Legos before we go and play something new he tells me he doesn't want to go to play with his kitchen.  And he never does this nonchalantly.  Oh no.  A whine is nothing if not all in the delivery.  His is characterized by a sort of mid-pitched, head tucked to his chin and arms crossed while slightly swinging side-to-side (if he's in his high chair, he usually turns his head completely away from me) followed by "me no want to (fill in the blank)" with a heavy emphasis on the word "want" and always mixed in is the fake cry.

And it is in that faked cry that the intolerable whine is produced.  I usually try to reason with him, not happening, at least not yet.  So he whines again.  I try to dissuade him from pushing this too far by assertively telling him to cut it out.  He ignores me and whines again.   Here is where my skin begins to crawl and my level of patience, understanding and most of all calmness goes out the window and I become my mother.  My face hardens up.  My finger wags in his face.  And I tell him between clenched teeth "I don't care what you want.  I told you to (fill in the blank) and that's what you'll do".  Believe it or not, he gets me.  Or at the very least he's just scared enough to not make another go of it.  And there in lies the trick newbies: a healthy dose of fear in your kids is to a happy household as the play action pass is in football - it keeps them honest.

Your kids are smarter and wilier than you know.  They are learning what buttons to press to open or slam your proverbial doors everyday.  You have to stay on your toes, but more importantly you need to keep them on theirs.  The first time you make that horrible, hard, ugly face and let them know that this is your ship and not theirs - if you do it right it will be like in Monsters Inc. when Sulley unintentionally scares the shit out of Boo when he roars for the practice dummy.  The realization that this dude is crazy and I don't want any part of that; you'll see it in their eyes, trust me.  And sure, you'll feel terrible for it, but it's a necessary personal health safety precaution.  Because your kids are going to get older and from what I hear it is going to get even more challenging.  You're going to need to keep that blood pressure low and that heart healthy if you want to live to see those days.

Let's be honest, we take hordes of pictures and videos of our kids over the years for two reasons.  One, we want to remember these moments because though the days are long the years are short.  Two, your kids will have girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands/wives and most importantly kids of their own and what better way to get back for all those days you were sure you were three beats from a heart attack or an emotional/mental collapse than to show some of the more embarrassing footage of them when they were kids.  I know I am keeping my collection well stocked.                  

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