Saturday, October 21, 2006

How About Some Cheese With That Whine?

Our February school break was a whine fest and I feel positively hung-over. The whining began just as a child thing but by the end of the ski vacation even my husband’s baritone voice went into low whine (mine was more of the high pitched variety).

What is it with whining? Kids learn early on that it “works,” even though as intelligent adults we know that it shouldn’t. Exhausted or desperate for peace, we give in to the incessancy of the whining. We may say, “Stop whining! Whining won’t get you your way,” but minutes later we’re handing over the cookie or changing the channel or searching for the misplaced or unpurchased toy that is the subject of the whining. Child-rearing books advise parents to ignore the whining, but have the authors actually experienced whining at its finest? I kind of think not.

Whining begets whining. Example from our trip: My daughter, Janet, 11, announced one morning that didn’t want to ski that day; she was tired. “ Pleeeaaase! You said it was my vacation too! Come oooooonnnn!” Her dad replied in a deep whine, “Come ooooonnn, Janet! I paaaaaiiiid for the ticket; you haaaaavvvvve to.” Then Jack pitches in with a half-whine, “ That’s not faiiiiiirrr! How come she can stay in and I can’t?!” My turn: “ Jaaaack! You can ski with me, pleeeeaaaase!” Jon: “ Juuuuulllllles. Don’t encourage her not to goooo.” Goodness, what a noisy scene.

We had Jon’s step-sister and family staying with us on our trip. They have two children, a girl, 6 and a boy, 9. They were big-time whiners and they are British, so the sounds of the whines were pretty intense.

“ Muuuuummy! Daadddy! Edward’s being awfully, awfully rude!” The English accent just intensified the annoyingness of the whine. (Note: I happen to adore English accents but in a whiny voice I am not a fan).

We were out in Jackson, Wyoming and it was pretty darn cold there the week of February 14, so there was a fair amount of complaining and whining about the crispness of the air (even from yours truly, though I was highly grateful that at least the sun was shining). Whenever Janet or Jack would start the whine about the cold I’d ask them if they wanted cheese with their whine. At first it made them stop the piercing sounds and ask what on earth I meant by that. I explained about wine and cheese and the rather clever play on words (wine-whine). And so whenever they started I’d say “want some cheese?” and they would invariably smile or laugh or tell me that I wasn’t very clever and to stop saying that. That said ,it also would cease the whining for a blessed ten minutes or so.

Although whining seems to be primarily a province of the young female of the species, it seems that boys are catching up. Blake (now 21) and Kenny (19) were not big whiners at all, but Jack and even some of his friends, can be real champs at it, which is both interesting as well as cringe-worthy.

I truly wish I could pass on some sound parenting advice here on the topic, but woefully, I cannot. Why? I doooonnn’t knnnoooowwww!

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