I think I’m a fairly tolerant person. I can handle waiting on lines, even with an antsy toddler. I can deal with getting up far earlier than my circadian rhythm dictates each morning. I can cope with Sophie’s daily I-don’t-want-to-wear-a-coat flip out. But I CANNOT tolerate whining. It grates on my very last nerve. When I used to teach, I declared my classroom a “no whining zone” and was not above whining back at my students to demonstrate just how annoying and obnoxious it is. I was also a fan of telling them that all complaints must be submitted in writing.
Sophia, I am afraid to say, is a natural-born whiner. When she doesn’t get her way, the crocodile tears start flowing and she announces with great dramatic flair, “Sophie CRYING!” I like her to be precise with language, so I’ve taken to correcting her, “Sophie is not crying. Sophie is WHINING.” So now, when she does not get her way and the crocodile tears start flowing, she declares, “Sophie WHINING!” To which I respond, “Yes you are, and you’re doing it in a no-whining zone. Use your words and tell me what you want/how you feel/what’s wrong, etc.” Which is invariably met with…
It is one of those mornings when I have gotten up far earlier than my circadian rhythm dictates. My mother needs a ride to the shop to pick up her car. I have long metabolized every last drop of caffeine I knocked back yesterday, and I am swiftly going into withdrawal. The coffee can is in my hot little hands, but my mother shoos me out of the house before I can get the percolator going. “Mom, I NEED coffee,” I insist.
“We’ll stop along the way." She replies. "There’s a Dunkin Donuts down the road.”
As with most addicts in need of a fix, I become perseverative. My only thought is that I must get to that Dunkin Donuts. We’re driving down one of the most strip mall-flanked roads in the nation, and I’m on high alert for the pink and orange sign. My mother is singing to Sophia in the backseat, in a voice that is threatening to split my head open:
“WHEN PIGS GET UP IN THE MORNING THEY ALWAYS SAY GOOD DAY! WHEN PIGS GET UP IN THE MORNING THEY AWAYS SAY GOOD DAY! OINK, OINK, OINK, OINK THAT IS WHAT THEY SAY. THEY SAY, OINK, OINK, OINK, OINK THAT IS WHAT THEY SAY.
She’s very into this song, as is Sophia, who gleefully suggests new animals, “Bear! Snake! Penguin!” And I am growing deeply concerned that we are going to drive right by the Dunkin Donuts. This is untenable.
“Mom, where did you say it was?
“It’s a little further down the road. I’ll let you know when we are getting close.”
“Is it by where dad used to work?”
“Melissa,” says my mother, growing exasperated with me, “relax. We’re almost there.”
“Mom, I NEED coffee. I DON’T want to pass it while you two are carrying on in the backseat.”
Another voice responds to me from the back seat, “Mom! Stop WHINING!”
Touché, Sophia. Touché.