There seems to me to be three types of toddler. There’s the angry-stampy-throwing-on-the-floor type; there’s the manic-shouty-running-circles-around-mum kind; then there’s my one. The whiney-melodramatic-crying-about-everything-that-hasn’t-happened kind…
Before you have children, when you are very much in the “eww…kids” phase of life, you see these snotty whining clingy children and can’t help but sneer. Urgh. Why would you want one of those noisy soggy limpets hanging off of you all the time? No thank you. When eventually you start to open your mind to the possibility of a child, you imagine your quiet, polite, funny if you’re lucky, little mini-me as something of an accessory to delight in, and show off. Then you blink and find yourself staring down at the stringy little runner bean wrapped around your ankle emitting a tortuous noise that makes you want to shoot yourself in the head. You wonder how this happened. I was adamant I wouldn’t have a whingey, whiney child. Much rather a boisterous opinionated one that stamps and shouts – at least it would have a backbone. Alas it was not meant to be. A whingey whiney very-almost-three-year-old is exactly what I have. My days are bombarded with a whining sound that can only be compared with an air raid siren from WWI. “wwwwWWWWHHHAAAAAaaaaaa wwwwWWWWHHHAAAAAaaaaaa”. Unaccompanied by tears but loud enough to make the old deaf guy over the road turn his head – it’s deafening. It’s alarming and stress-inducing. It comes unexpectedly and at the drop of a hat. Any threat of pain or unwanted suggestion of activity. “Whaaaaa I fell over” – “but you didn’t bleed”; “whaaaa I tripped up” – “but you didn’t actually fall”; “whaaaa a wasp just flew near me” – “but it was the other side of the window”; “whaaa I don’t like it Mummy” – “but you haven’t even tried it.” It drives me to distraction. It turns me into a horrible mother. “WHY ARE YOU CRYING!?” I find myself yelling unsympathetically at my little girl 25 times a day. Shocked bystanders hold their phones in their hands threatening to call social services when they see her sad face, giant eyes and scrunched up features. “THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU!” I bark at her. I’m not unsympathetic. Like any mother, my stomach lurches when she runs too fast. My jaw sets when another child says something mean. My shoulders rise when she walks into something. I very much worry for her and when she is genuinely hurt, my love and cuddles are abundant. But only when there are genuine tears. The whining noise that has become the soundtrack to my life is more than I can bear. “wwwwWWWWHHHAAAAAaaaaaa”. I see the child-free sneer with distaste. She has become the anti-advert for starting a family. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Those golden curls were meant to be symbolic of her angelic-ness. An actual angel, not a pretend one. Her little face was meant to draw people in, not make them turn away in disgust when they hear her. The noise gets worse when she is tired, louder and more frequent. Every little thing sets her off….”whaaaa I need a drink”; “whaaaa she tried to touch me”; “whaaa I need a wee”. JUST GO TO THE BLOODY TOILET THEN!
After a particularly bad week not long ago, I decided enough was enough. Enter Evil Mum. The next time she stumbled but didn’t actually trip I continued walking. As the wailing became louder, I brusquely said “is there blood or are there broken bones? No? Then stop crying”. The next incident was some water down her front in a restaurant. “It will dry” I said, and kept on eating. Next time, in the park she actually fell. But no blood, no tears, no scratches, not even a pink graze. The moaning crescendo’d….I had had enough. “STAND UP. Why are you crying? Just stop it. Let’s go on the slide.” The other mums all looked aghast. I realised I looked cold but it had become ridiculous. Being firm now is the only thing that worked. The siren reduced to a whimper and eventually tailed off leaving just the sound of gossiping parents. We carried on like this for a week. Evil Mum conquered the whine siren. For a while, anyway.
I hate being mean. It makes me sad. I don’t want to be horrible to her but I genuinely believe it to be attention seeking, and it grates on me like little else in the world. I want her to know I love her but making that noise will not be the thing that elicits affection. I always try and think about how this behaviour manifests itself later in life. She will be the class cry-baby. The teenage sour face. The adult moaner. The wet weekend. The drip. People will roll their eyes when they think about spending time with her. It would be no good for her in the long term to let this carry on. A little tough love now will be good for her in the long run, particularly as this is nothing deeper-routed than a cry for Mummy and Daddy’s attention. I find it suspicious that the ramped-up whining coincided with the arrival of no2. But being mean when she cries feels horrible and it makes me feel bad. At night, before we go to bed, I go in to her bedroom and stroke her angelic blonde curls, kissing her soft chubby cheeks. I tell her I’m sorry I’m not more patient and that I can’t be more like the Mums that don’t snap. I tell her I love watching her go down her slide and that I love how inquisitive she is. I love her impatience, it reminds me of me. I love her frustration that she’s not more independent. I love that she expects to be able to do everything straight away. I love that she can’t talk when she first wakes up. I love that she randomly gives me kisses and cuddles when she’s in the middle of playing. I love that she says I’m her best friend and likes to hold my hand. I love that she can almost write her name (with lots of l’s and a special i-dot). I love all of her. But fucking hell she can be hard work!
The whining has eased off for now. It’s nice that I don’t have to be cold and callous in front of the nice sing-song mums all the time. It comes back every now and then and we have lots of chats about being brave and not crying about things that haven’t happened. It’s OK to cry when we’re sad or scared or hurt, but not for no reason, my little girl who cried wolf. Child psychologists may tell me this isn’t the way to handle this situation but like many other things as a parent, we do what we think is best. I’m sure friends, teachers and she herself will thank us in the long term. I hope so anyway. Wine is the only whine we want in our lives, my love.
Share with me your own tips on handling your toddlers’ whining either below or on the Facebook post. Thanks for stopping by! xx