If there's one thing I can't stand about toddlers (and, while we're at it, older babies -- I'm looking at YOU Molly), it's the whining. So much whining! But I've discovered a new way to deal with Mr. Whiny McWhinerson in my house. Lately, whenever he starts up the full force whine, you know, the one that starts liquefying your brain within seconds, I simply turn around, give him A Look and say, "NO. MORE. WHINING." And then I go back to whatever I'm doing and the two-year-old is sort of stopped in his tracks, looking at me curiously, wondering who this strange new creature is. As if to say, "HEY, where is the coddling?"
He IS starting to catch on. He's beginning to realize that my firm no-nonsense voice did not ACTUALLY relieve him of his whining skills. But I'm still enjoying the confused (and, I admit it, slightly wounded) expression. Maybe he's also beginning to realize that he's getting to be a Big Boy who knows the words for "help" and "please" and "cookie" and maybe if he used THOSE once in a while he might get better results.
In just a few months Jack has gone from a four word vocabulary to three-word sentences. It's amazing to me, and sort of makes me wish I hadn't wasted all those hours fretting about his inability to deliver soliloquies on Cheerios at 15 months, which is when the pediatrician told me he should be talking. I am now the recipient of daily bursts of Two-Speak, ranging anywhere from "I! Need! Shovel!" to "no! potty!" to "COOKIE!" It's super fun. I think the talking makes up for a lot of other things, like two-year-old diapers and pulling every mixing bowl out of the cupboard so he can "cook".
But it's also not reliable. Yesterday at a friend's house he ran up to me with a small scrape on his palm, whimpering. I asked him what happened, but he didn't or couldn't tell me. My friend tried again while she was putting a band-aid on the boo boo, asking him if the kitty cat scratched him. And for the rest of the day, whenever you asked him what happened to his hand, he said, "Kitty! Skwatch!" Is this what happened? Or did we feed that to him?
Either way, it's better than whining. (ANYTHING is better than whining.) And whining doesn't get you very far in this house anymore. It gets you dragged inside or plopped in bed or, best of all, ignored. I'm such a mean mom! But I really feel like he has the tools to communicate and the longer I try to translate the whining, the more frustrated we all become. Sometimes it's better to pretend you can't hear it and wait for him to find another way to tell you what he wants.
Of course, there are still the times when he doesn't KNOW what he wants, he just needs to WHIIIIINE and he wants Mommy to pick him up and baby him. How do I resist? He's only TWO. I can't exactly expect him to say, "Mother, I am bored/jealous/tired/frustrated/angry/sad and I would please like some attention, preferably in the form of snuggling and pampering."
And then, sometimes, I'll take him out, all on his own, away from that demanding little sister and the rules of our house and let him get all his whinies out. I'm not ALWAYS a mean mom.